CoGG: Civic building

13 October 2017

Post No 6 – By Rusty

CoGG and Victorian Gov’t | Issue: Civic building

The first flag to indicate that CoGG had decided the location of the new combined Administration and Civic (let’s just call it the civic building) was in the Central Geelong Community Infrastructure (CGAP) released in June 2017. By renaming the area down towards the courts and railway and Mercer St “Railway and Civic” and dropping the area around the Library and GPAC, ie part of Lt Malop St to “Cultural”, from Civic and Cultural.

The map of the precincts is in the report and a link is below.

The proposed civic building is not within the “professional office” area.

I went armed with the map down to the “Railway and Civic” area, and after wandering around and outside the mapped area kept coming back to the recently completed ground level carpark in Mercer St. There is history on this site, even known by me as a recent settler in town.

That raises a question to Geelong Authority: If this structural plan (CGAP) is in force at the time CoGG seek approval of 137 Mercer St, as the civic building, will it be approved at that location?

I remind you that this document (CGAP) was released to the public on 1 June 2017. The report of the suggested location for the civic building was released on 22 September 2017.

Extract from 22 September, 2017 report

A series of reports and strategies have been considered over the years since 1998. In 2007-8 Council purchased a site of 4,655m2 at 137 Mercer Street in order to establish a purpose built office accommodation building. No further action has been taken however to consolidate operations at this location.

 Council, as early as 1998, identified the need to investigate its long term accommodation needs.

 Since November 2016 Council staff, working with consultants, have:

– Tested the earlier work by evaluating available central city sites for establishment of a single civic precinct which could include new office accommodation and associated community facilities. This evaluation has had regard to the revitalisation program currently underway in Central Geelong.

Here is the link to the report as it is just TOOOOOOO hard to follow.

I commend the Council candidate, Mr George Ballas, in raising this issue and he has proposed an alternative site of the Target in Thomson Road North Geelong. This is refreshing and I would welcome a halt to this process of the search for a civic building. It also needs to be held up until the new democratically elected council can consider. I support the new council adopting a fresh approach and open this evaluation to a rigorous and wide assessment. It looks like the Councillors need to help in setting the brief that this action is predicated on.

Given that this issue of a new civic building has been subject to debate since 1998, what now is the rush? I emphasise that the new democratically council need to have a look at many major things at CoGG, so maybe the civic building can be put on hold in the short term. Amongst the many considerations for premises, CoGG firstly cannot base the initial size on the current office space utilised.

The first step is to return to the review of services and efficiency conducted during Keith Fagg’s tenure as Mayor. Once the services delivery issue is settled, and then a review of staffing levels can be conducted. Once this is complete we will be in a position to look at the premises required to deliver the service to ratepayers effectively and efficiently. The ratepayers want value for money on the rates they pay. I contend that they would not be asking for a reduction in rates but just getting the service that a council can deliver under the rate capping regime.

Geelong Authority (GA) is mentioned in these matters as they will be the consenting authority on this property development. This organisation is very poor at communicating and replying to queries. A matter I raised at a recent function with a person that claimed they were on the Board of GA.

Post #6 – date 13/10/17


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