Bendigo Gaol theatre decision imminent

City of Greater Bendigo councillors will soon decide the fate of a 1000-seat theatre.

The Bendigo Advertiser understands a planning permit for the $25.8 million development will go before councillors within weeks.

Stakeholders were yesterday celebrating Heritage Victoria’s approval of the old Bendigo Gaol development.

The heritage approval slightly changed the design of the theatre.

The developers – the City of Greater Bendigo and Bendigo Senior Secondary College – have agreed to limit the breach of a northern wall that faces Barnard Street.

Bendigo Senior Secondary College principal Dale Pearce said the heritage approval was an important step forward for the project.

“The historic Bendigo Gaol is an important local heritage asset and we understand this is the first time a heritage gaol has been adapted and reused in this way,” he said.

“We have always been very mindful of the historical importance of this building and we are fully aware of the uniqueness of this project.”

The Bendigo Advertiser last year revealed the federal government had shocked theatre stakeholders and approved $12.3 million development, fast-tracking the project.

The federal grant requires construction to start before the end of November.

The council will go into caretaker mode on September 25 and councillors must approve a planning permit before this date for the project to proceed on time.

Councillors would be unable to vote on the matter when they enter caretaker mode ahead of the October 27 council elections.

The state government will manage the tendering and construction phases. Construction of the project would start later this year and finish in mid-2014.

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