VCAT bypass: Bendigo theatre project going ahead

A NEW theatre at the old Bendigo Gaol is expected to be running by 2014.

The state government has dismissed a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing after the authority bungled the appeals process, giving the $25.8 million development the green light.

Four complainants had appealed to VCAT, arguing that the council’s planning was short-sighted and broke planning regulations.

Member for Northern Victoria Damian Drum this morning said the complaints had been dismissed by Planning Minister Matthew Guy, allowing the theatre to commence without delay.

“The language from the Federal Government is very clear,” he said. 

“There is no extra money available should this project run over budget.

“To allow an appeals process to proceed through VCAT, in our opinion, would be placing the concept of this project being built on budget at too great a risk.”

The complainants, headed by former Bendigo mayor Daryl McClure, have no further course of appeal.

City of Greater Bendigo CEO Craig Niemann said the council hoped to award a construction tender early next year.

He added the council had been “extremely rigorous” in the planning process and had met all criteria.

“This brings some absolute certainty to the project,” he said. 

“It’s good for the development that we can now proceed to the detailed designs and go to tender.”

More coverage in tomorrow's Bendigo Advertiser.

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