The GovHub is a new government office to be located at the redeveloped Civic Hall site in the heart of Ballarat.
The site will be transformed into a state-of-the-art integrated workplace while retaining the existing outstanding features.
Ballarat GovHub will be home to up to 1000 government employees, including some of the 600 public sector positions being relocated from Melbourne.
The new Ballarat GovHub will cost around $100 million dollars to develop. The Government is likely to enter into a long-term lease-arrangement with the eventual facility owner to provide financial security.
The GovHub development will provide enough car parking spaces for employees. Government will also work with Ballarat City Council to improve CBD car parking and offset the losses of parking at the Civic Hall site.
A $2 million contribution towards the Ballarat City Council’s CBD Parking Action Plan will be provided by the State Government, allowing the council to commence delivery of at least 1,000 nearby car parking spaces as part of the council’s 4,367 car parks to be created under this initiative. These new car parks will be provided over the next three years.
Concept designs will be released for public feedback in December. These views will be taken into consideration alongside the feedback provided during extensive engagement with the community previously undertaken by the City of Ballarat.
A planning application is expected to be submitted in late 2017. The GovHub is expected to be completed in 2020.
The Civic Hall project is being managed by Ballarat City Council. The council is presently engaging builders to undertake refurbishment works to the Civic Hall’s main hall and ancillary spaces, including the foyer, circle foyer, seating, stage and under stage spaces. The objective of this work is to bring the building up to present day building code compliance so that it can be safely opened for public use. Proposed works include:
Lifts to provide accessible paths of travel to all public areas (required under the DDA act)
New fire detection and suppression systems
New electrical, plumbing and heating/air conditioning/ventilation systems
Refurbishment of select spaces to provide modern, compliant toilet and dressing room spaces
General clean up and restoration.
GovHub provides an opportunity to facilitate a new integrated government service activity model that will encourage collaboration and innovation. A range of complementary government activities and functions have been assembled to be integrated into the GovHub model. These include:
Department of Education and Training
Department of Justice and Regulation
Department of Economic Development, Jobs Transport & Resources (DEDJTR)
Consumer Affairs Victoria
State Revenue Office
The Minister for Planning will be asked to facilitate planning approval for the new building in consultation with Ballarat City Council.
Due to significance of the project to Ballarat and Victoria, Development Victoria (on behalf of the Minister for Regional Development) intends to request that the Minister for Planning use his powers under section 20(4) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to exempt the project from the notice and exhibition requirements normally applied to planning approvals of this type. The planning submission will include a site-specific Incorporated Document which will also exempt the project from relevant provisions of the Ballarat Planning Scheme, particularly relating to permits for work.
Development Victoria will provide the community with an opportunity to view the concept designs and provide feedback before its planning application is submitted. The planning application will include the following documentation:
Supporting guiding material including a concept design, traffic report, heritage report and other relevant technical reports related to the proposal.
Development Victoria is anticipating a decision from the Minister for Planning in February 2018. Following that, detailed plans will be prepared and submitted for endorsement in consultation with Ballarat City Council.
Construction is expected to begin in early 2019 and be complete in 2020.
A reconstructed lower hall space equivalent to the existing lower hall in volume is a key feature of the GovHub design. This space, together with the new conservatory, might be used for a café/bar, gallery space, live music venue or gathering space. Uses will be refined as work on the design progresses.
The existing lower hall will be removed in accordance with Ballarat City Council’s approved master plan. Bricks from the existing lower hall may be used in constructing the new lower hall.
Ballarat City Council’s concept design of the redevelopment of Civic Hall will see the dressing rooms provided in the space underneath the stage in the existing Civic Hall. The Civic Hall concept plan also provides two, separately usable, spaces of similar size to the lower hall.
The council’s priority is to undertake initial internal works to allow the Civic Hall to be reopened for community use as soon as possible. Stage 2 redevelopment works for the Civic Hall are not currently funded. An application for the remainder of the project is currently with the Federal Government through the Building Better Regions Funds.
The existing lower hall is in poor condition and significant work would be required to modify and refurbish it.
Other than the significant cost involved in doing this, retaining the existing lower hall would compromise the design of the GovHub through loss of basement carparking space and a significant loss of office floor space.
In May 2017, the Heritage Council of Victoria determined that the Civic Hall did not meet the significance threshold for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register and did not warrant inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register.
It found the Civic Hall was of local historical importance, but despite its importance to the Ballarat community it was not a notable, fine, pivotal or influential example of a Municipal Building or Civic Hall; that the place is an impressive building but does not demonstrate architectural or technical
The GovHub will be approximately five storeys high.
A civic plaza will connect the Civic Hall, the new conservatory and the GovHub along the Mair street frontage, with the conservatory acting as the key entry point to the building on Mair Street.
The project team are exploring activation of the corner of Mair and Armstrong streets through opportunities for retail or commercial activities on the ground floor of the GovHub.
The GovHub also has a strong visual connection to the Ballarat CBD through large windows on the south side.
Development Victoria and John Wardle Architects are exploring activation of the corner of Mair and Armstrong streets through opportunities for retail or commercial activities on the ground floor of the GovHub. The lower hall space also has the potential to house a café/bar/restaurant.
The GovHub building will provide a full suite of meeting spaces to satisfy office design guidelines, however the State Government will continue discussions with Ballarat City Council about activation of the Civic Hall on a day-to-day basis.
Ballarat City Council’s approved master plan was the starting point for the project, however John Wardle architects have provided a site-wide response to the design. The project team will continue to work closely with Ballarat City Council and Civic Hall architects Baumgart Clark Architects as the design progresses to ensure a precinct-wide approach.
The GovHub will be connected to Civic Hall through the new conservatory and reconstructed lower hall space. There will be a strong visual connection to the Civic Hall in the foyer of the GovHub through the reconstructed lower hall, views to the Civic Hall and the continuation of brick work through the building.
The project team has heard a strong message from the community that Ballarat needs an iconic, architecturally designed building that respects and connects the heritage aspects of the surrounding area rather than trying to recreate them. The design team has been working closely with the Office of the Victorian Government Architect to ensure the building respects the Civic Hall precinct and the wider Ballarat CBD, while demonstrating high architectural value in its own right.
The design team has looked to Civic Hall as a strong civic marker and considered how the two buildings can complement each other through common themes.
A key feature of the new GovHub will be the continuation of brick and masonry through the podium area with a colour palette that is sympathetic to Civic Hall. The new conservatory and reconstructed lower hall will stitch the two buildings together.
The Civic Hall site is a complex site with a significant slope. Nonetheless, John Wardle Architects have sought through their design to achieve on-grade access to the civic plaza on Mair Street, the new conservatory and the Armstrong Street entrance. The design is founded in the Seven Principles of Universal Design which go over and above statutory requirements for access for people of all abilities.
The GovHub development will provide sufficient car parking spaces for government employees.
The 275 paid public car spaces currently provided on the site will be replaced, and additional parking totalling 1000 spaces will the provided, through a $2 million Victorian Government contribution towards the Ballarat City Council’s CBD Parking Action Plan. This will enable the council to commence delivery of the 1000 car parking spaces in the Ballarat CBD as part of the plan to create 4367 free formal spaces over five years.
Knowledge-intensive services and occupations are becoming more important to regional productivity and growth for cities like Ballarat. As a major employer in the state, the government can stimulate this kind of growth by relocating government positions to regional areas.
Government-led projects aimed at sharing economic growth and diversifying regional economies have proven to be successful in previously and the government is committed to sharing growth opportunities right across the state. The GovHub will continue to renew and develop the Ballarat CBD as the economic hub of the city.
The Civic Hall precinct has long been recognised as one of the most strategically important sites for Ballarat, as it and the station are the only two sites in Ballarat's CBD that are unconstrained and suitable for large scale development purposes.
Government is already investing $25 million in a major redevelopment of the Ballarat Station Precinct. The project is expected to create around 140 local jobs and leverage over $30 million in private sector investment. It will revitalise Ballarat’s CBD into a commercial and cultural hub and act as a catalyst for ongoing investment opportunities and job creation.
This site represents a rare opportunity for a strategic large-scale development in the heart of the Ballarat central business district.
The site is on Crown land. Development Victoria will undertake the development on Government’s behalf. Development Victoria has a strong track record of successfully delivering large scale urban renewal projects that realise the full potential of government surplus land.