Fortuna to be subdivided for housing: owner

DEVELOP: Paul Banks at Fortuna

DEVELOP: Paul Banks at Fortuna

BLOCKS of land will be sold for housing at the Fortuna Villa site, according to owner Paul Banks.

Mr Banks is trying to rezone the land, and City of Greater Bendigo staff recommend councillors support the plans at Wednesday’s meeting.

He said the rezoning was likely to proceed, bringing his bid to subdivide the property closer.

“There are two steps to go,” Mr Banks said.  

“That’s it.

TERRACE: Mr Banks plans to turn former army barracks into terrace housing.

TERRACE: Mr Banks plans to turn former army barracks into terrace housing.

HOME PLAN: Paul Banks

HOME PLAN: Paul Banks

“We’re keen, we’ve been doing surveying work with the view of getting pegs in the ground and getting it fenced off.”

About 40 per cent of the site would be sold off, Mr Banks said.

“We’ll sell to a developer,” he said.  

“Whoever does it, it has to be an absolute no-brainer opportunity.

“There aren’t too many people who can create a development that overlooks a property like Fortuna Villa.”

A seven acre parcel of land would likely be used for high and medium density housing blocks, and the former army barracks would be converted into eight terrace homes. 

Booth Street residents had raised concern over noise, traffic, and appeal rights with the change in zoning, but an independent panel found the objections were overstated.

"While the panel acknowledges the issues raised by Booth Street residents, it believes that their concerns about possible off-site impacts have been overstated,” a report said.

Any future subdivision and development would still need council permits.

Mr Banks said he was now months away from progressing with plans for Fortuna, which was built in the mid-1850s.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

“Our plan is to open it to the public as an eatery with tours of the venue, with a function venue, and later on we want to do a boutique hotel.”

The front of the home has been repainted, a Pompeii fountain restored, and work undertaken on the lake.

Mr Banks said he had probably spent “a couple hundred thousand dollars” on the restoration. 

Work will start on the back of the property once the site has been opened to the public. 

The Chum Street home has had an interesting past, and is perhaps best known as the former home of mining entrepreneur George Lansell.

The Defence Department had owned the site and listed it for sale last year, causing councillor Elise Chapman to go on hunger strike in protest.

Mr Banks purchased the property last May after another purchaser, who had placed the winning bid, fell through.

RESTORED: The front of the building after restoration work.

RESTORED: The front of the building after restoration work.

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