THE new owner of Villa Fortuna has revealed his plans for the iconic Bendigo mansion.
The army barracks at the back of Villa Fortuna are set to be transformed into eight new town houses.
Meanwhile the mansion and gardens are to be given a facelift and opened up to the public for a range of tourism and commercial uses.
New owner Paul Banks, who bought the property in June this year, has been quick to put his plans in action with the council due to start the formal planning scheme amendment process at the October 23 council meeting.
“It is a credit to all concerned for making this a priority. Promptness such as this will enable locals and visitors alike to enjoy the villa sooner rather than later,” he said.
“This is just the first process but we are kicking along well and I hope to start by early next year. I’d like to crack it in under 12 months.
“We are currently planning a café area and will conduct tours, weddings and outdoor concerts as soon as we are approved.”
Other plans include converting the parade ring into a high density development and subdividing the remaining land not infringing on the villa.
Meanwhile all buildings without heritage significance are set to be removed and replaced by gardens.
And work on the villa has already begun with paint being applied in the original heritage colours.
“Everything we do will complement the heritage values of the villa,” said Mr Banks.
“To revive and restore such an icon as Fortuna Villa is an honour.”
Mr Banks will be holding an open information session on November 19 in the Pearl Room at the National Hotel to give the public an opportunity to express their thoughts and ask any questions.
“I hope the feedback will be positive but if people do have a problem I hope they accept my invitation to come to the meeting and contact me directly with any issues, rather than putting in a formal submission to council,” he added.