Observatory protection sought – City of Greater Bendigo council meeting briefs

April 28, 2022 BY

Historic: The John Beebe Observatory is a step closer to receiving heritage protection. Photo: SUPPLIED

AT their April ordinary meeting, City of Greater Bendigo councillors voted in favour of an independent tribunal deciding what parts of the property containing a historic observatory should be heritage protected.

The site is at 55 Condon Street, Kennington and contains an old observatory once used by East Bendigo architect John Beebe.

Councillors have previously discussed the significance of the building and the dwelling at the front of the property, and sought to speed up the heritage overlay process when the owners put it up for sale.

Cr David Fagg moved the motion and said it cements council’s determination to see the observatory and dwelling receive heritage protection.

“We are acting to protect a key part of our history so any changes proposed regarding this property would need to come to council for a decision,” he said.

Some concerns have been raised over the condition of the dwelling and whether it should be included in the heritage overlay, which is now up to the State minister for planning to decide on.


Tram with a plan

The municipality will assume the role of project manager for the Bendigo Tramways expansion project.

The works have a total value of $10.7 million and are funded by four parties including the City, VicTrack, Regional Development Victoria, and Bendigo Heritage Attractions.

The expansion involves the construction of a storage shed to house an additional 30 W-Class trams and other heritage rolling stock, including from the former Bendigo gas works site.

It is expected the project will also enhance the tourism experience to Bendigo Tramways while supporting manufacturing jobs.

Cr Matthew Evans said the municipality taking on an active role is important due to the local knowledge of the site.

“To have that local expertise to know what’s happening on the ground cannot be understated,” he said. “This [project] is great for jobs and the local economy.”


Creche plans hit tail

A childcare centre will be built in Ironbark, after councillors voted unanimously to grant a permit for the use and development of land at 62-68 Eaglehawk Road.

The centre will accommodate 120 children across six rooms as well as a 33 carpark spaces, vehicle access via a one-way entrance from Eaglehawk Road, and a two-way entrance and exit from Carmen Lane and Ashley Street.

Councillors agreed childcare centres are in demand, especially around Eaglehawk and California Gully, and the proposal is suitable due to its size, design and location.

Concerns were raised, however, as the development affects the proposed Ironbark Gully Trail.

In response, Cr Fagg raised an additional motion to request the CEO to progress design of the preferred alignment of the Ironbark Gully Trail and give the City authority to commence land acquisition in relation to the trail.

“This additional motion makes it absolutely clear that council is behind the Ironbark Gully Trail and its future development,” Cr Fagg said.

“It will have the effect of completing the design for the entire 4.3-kilometre trail so it’s ready for delivery.”


Bulky centre rejected

While one childcare centre proposal had full support of council, another was voted against.

The proposal was for a double-storey centre and easement to be established on 10 Smith Street and 7 Grattan Street in North Bendigo.

Main concerns for the application were the visual bulk and overshadowing the centre would cause, as nearby properties are mainly single storey.

The proposed centre would have five rooms across its two storeys and accommodated 105 children.

Thirteen objections were received, with concerns raised around the centre’s effects on parking and traffic, loss of privacy, and that the building would dominate the street view.

Cr Greg Penna supported the proposal saying the joint block is a good idea for the proposal, and it addresses a “desperate need” for childcare centres.

Formal rejection of the plans are pretty much moot anyway, as council did not respond to the proposal in time and the applicant has taken the matter to VCAT, with the move in the chamber merely signalling a majority of councillors don’t support the development.

Cr Vaughan Williams voted with Cr Penna against the motion.


“Dream home” knocked back

Two proposals for to change a building envelope and subsequently build a large home in Sedgwick were knocked back by council.

The applicant had requested to have the building zone changed at Lot 7 Wilkinsons Road to allow them to build a dwelling on top of the hill.

Councillors agreed the proposal was not in line with the municipal planning scheme due to the unacceptable impact the development would have on the surrounding rural landscape and the impacts it would have on erosion.

Cr Alden said the original building envelope accounted for land capability and distance from waterways while minimising environmental impacts.

The proposal for the dwelling included removing 1.8 metres off the top of the hill to allow for a house and swimming pool to be built, as well as the construction of a dam and outbuildings.

“This proposal reflects how landscapes cannot be engineered at will,” Cr Alden said. “I suggest the positives of the current location be re-examined and the dream home proposal reconfigured.”


Bushfire risk blocks proposal

Another proposal in Sedgwick, for a subdivision, removal of native vegetation and creation of a carriageway easement at 19 Blossett Drive was also rejected, mainly due to bushfire risk.

The subject site consists of one lot with one house, heavily surrounded by native vegetation.

Crs Fagg and Alden agreed that as the site in the rural conservation zone, additional dwellings and removal of vegetation should be discouraged.

Cr Evans said bushfire provisions have become a focus in the planning scheme since the Black Saturday Bushfires in 2009 and the proposed design is “not desirable and not a situation we would want to put current and future tenants or emergency services through.”

Cr Penna voted in favour of the proposal as the elderly applicant has lived on the land for many years and is seeking to subdivide the land to allow their son to move into the existing dwelling.

“The new proposed site is already clear and they would have substantial area around the proposed residence well in excess of the 37 metres of defendable space the CFA asked for,” he said.

Cr Williams voted with Cr Penna, but the motion carried.