Osborne House to receive heritage-friendly makeover

March 4, 2021 BY

The council has committed up to $10 million for the restoration of Osborne House, which includes $2 million in funding for restoration and maintenance works already underway. Photo: SUPPLIED

HISTORIC Osborne House is one step closer to its mega makeover with Geelong council agreeing upon the expressions of interest (EOI) process that will take the sustainable redevelopment forward.

Built in North Geelong in 1858, Osborne House and its adjacent stables are considered one the region’s most important heritage assets.

The City of Greater Geelong council is now seeking investors to partner with for the redevelopment, which is expected to cost more than $21 million.

Geelong mayor Stephanie Asher said the Osborne Park Precinct is an important part of the region’s heritage.

“The historic Osborne Park Precinct is much loved by the Greater Geelong community, so it’s exciting that progress is being made on its redevelopment,” she said.

Cr Asher encouraged potential partners and investors to come forward with their vision for the house and stables.

National Trust spokesperson for Geelong and Region Branch, Jennifer Bantow, congratulated council for making certain no part of the property would be sold off and said the integrity of the site must not be compromised.

“It’s important that the whole of the Osborne Park property, from the bluestone gate on the highway to Corio Bay, is all seen as having heritage value,” Mrs Bantow said.

“The 19th century Robert Muirhead and Philip Russell buildings should be totally restored and have public access ensured.”

Osborne Park Association president, Cheryl Scott, said Osborne House had been the subject of several failed EOIs and masterplans over the past three decades and that while the process had been slow and frustrating, it was worth it in the end.

“It was an historic vote that ensured Osborne House and environs remains in community ownership,” Ms Scott said.

She said that vision, courage and imagination will be needed and there were many examples already in the region.

“Consider what it took to create some of Australia’s iconic tourist destinations and we already have; the Dome library, National Wool Museum, Geelong Gallery and Geelong Arts Centre,” Ms Scott said.

“This won’t take away from them but will enhance the Geelong experience – exciting times ahead.”

Cr Eddy Kontelj said the precinct meant a lot to the community and he wanted to ensure the sites heritage values are protected.

“The EOI has the potential of providing some very exciting opportunities for Osborne House, the precinct, the community and investors into the future,” Cr Kontelj said.

The council has committed up to $10 million for the restoration which includes $2 million in funding for restoration and maintenance works, which are already under way. So far, work has included restoring 50 windows and French doors and installing fire detection systems. Stable wall remediation works will begin this month.

The development of the EOI documentation and process has been carried out in consultation with the Osborne House Project Control Group, which includes representatives from the City of Greater Geelong, Heritage Victoria, National Trust of Australia (Victoria) and the Osborne Park Association.

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