Old gaol process in disarray

THERE are assurances the Old Bendigo Gaol theatre project is on track, despite confusion over yesterday’s Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing. 

Parties involved in the 

$25.8 million project said last Friday the project would go ahead despite the VCAT objection. 

Member for Northern Victoria Damian Drum said last Friday Planning Minister Matthew Guy would quash the appeal, giving the project the green light. 

But a hearing was held yesterday and a date for the appeal set for December. 

City of Greater Bendigo director planning and development Prue Mansfield said the hearing was part of the process of moving the project forward. 

She said the council was waiting to hear from Mr Guy that the actual hearing in December had been dismissed.

“We know exactly what is going on,” Ms Mansfield said. 

“The minister has said that if he needed to, he would change the planning scheme after today’s decision. 

“The council is awaiting legal advice that the minister has taken that action.”

Mr Guy’s spokeswoman did not return calls to the Advertiser in time for publication. 

The Member for Regional Victoria Damian Drum, while he wasn’t completely certain of the status of the project, said it would be proceeding without delay. 

“This was about the best way for the council to handle the appeals process,” he said. 

“There doesn’t seem to be reason to worry about the VCAT hearing in December.” 

Objector Daryl McClure, who attended yesterday’s hearing, said they had been sent on a “wild goose chase” and described the situation as “most extraordinary”. 

“We’ve now got a situation where public money is being wasted, where people’s time is being wasted, where VCAT’s time is being wasted and our time as applicants apparently counts for nothing,” he said. 

“With 40 years of experience in these things, I’m unaware of any time this has happened in the past.”

Mr McClure said nobody involved in the project knew what was going on.

“The minister has said he will call in the file, that hasn’t happened,” he said. 

“If the minister plans to deal with the matter, why has he not done so?”

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