Bendigo VRI Bowling Club fears for its future as Bendigo Railway Station overpass plans eat in to green

Don Robertson and Brian Rosewall, of the Bendigo VRI Bowling Club, fear for the club's future as part of plans for a second overpass at the Bendigo Railway Station. Picture: GLENN DANIELS
Don Robertson and Brian Rosewall, of the Bendigo VRI Bowling Club, fear for the club's future as part of plans for a second overpass at the Bendigo Railway Station. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

MEMBERS of the Bendigo Victorian Railways Institute Bowling Club fear they could be forced to close as part of plans to construct a second overpass at the adjoining Bendigo Railway Station.

Preliminary plans showed a disability access ramp would be built on the southern platform, near the planned overpass, which would take away metres from the length of their second bowling green – already at its minimum competition length.

The club leases the land from VicTrack, but the lease was recently reduced from 50 years down to a month-by-month lease.

Bendigo VRI Bowling Club vice president Harry Huggard said they only found out about the plans via a third party, and have struggled to find any more information.

“We haven’t been consulted, even in October at the public meeting,” he said.

“We just found out about it a few weeks ago.”

The top red line shows the possible location of a ramp, which takes away 15 car parks from the bowling club and several metres from its second green.

The top red line shows the possible location of a ramp, which takes away 15 car parks from the bowling club and several metres from its second green.

Club members voiced their concerns during a VicTrack public consultation session in Bendigo on Tuesday. They feared the loss of the green, and up to 15 parking spaces at the end, would mean they would have no room to accommodate their 63 members.

The tender for the $15.8 million project at the Bendigo Railway Station is likely to be released in the coming weeks, when more detailed plans are completed and construction starts next year.

Kerry Yu, of VicTrack, said the ramps were required under the Disability Act in case the two lifts in the overpass stopped working.

But she said other options were still on the table.

“We are currently looking at options and are very mindful of the discussions that have already taken place and are continuing,” she said.

“That sort of feedback will help us with the next phase of the design, the more detailed designs.”

The club has been at the site bordered by Mitchell Street and the railway station for 51 years. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

The club has been at the site bordered by Mitchell Street and the railway station for 51 years. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

The club has been at the location for 51 years, based in the 140-year-old old stationmaster’s residence. As a not-for-profit group, it spends many thousands of dollars per year on the maintenance of the grounds

It also hosts all-abilities bowls and art classes for students with disabilities from Lifeskills Bendigo.

Club president Don Robertson said they were shocked to see the plans eating into their grounds, and their requests for meetings with local MPs have fallen on death ears.

“When we looked at the plans, we saw we were losing a green. We’d lose our club, we’d lose everything,” he said.

“We just want to know what’s going on.”

The plans could also see the loss of parking for some train station employees, including drivers.