VCAT objection could cause costly delays for old gaol theatre project

BENDIGO federal MP Steve Gibbons has demanded that Victoria’s education and planning ministers intervene after the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal received one objection to the construction of a theatre at the old Bendigo Gaol. 

City of Greater Bendigo chief executive Craig Niemann said the objection would be put to a directions hearing on Friday to decide if it is valid. 

Mr Gibbons said VCAT had botched the appeal process and strongly suggested ministers issue a permit immediately.

He said “one protester” could potentially increase the cost of the development by $1 million. 

“This is a ridiculous situation where the City of Greater Bendigo and the Bendigo Senior Secondary College had fulfilled all the necessary requirements and were informed that there was no appeal lodged within the prescribed time,” Mr Gibbons said. 

“It would be incomprehensible that just one objection could add another million dollars to the project, which is strongly supported by both state and federal governments”.

The $25.8 million project at the old Bendigo Gaol was expected to begin early next year, but  it could be delayed if the objection was considered by a tribunal. 

Mr Niemann said VCAT had advised the council it received the objection on Friday, despite the tribunal informing the city in writing on September 12 that no objections were lodged in time to be considered. 

“The city is extremely disappointed by this error by VCAT and is asking them, as a matter of urgency, to explain how they intend to deal with the matter given the uncertainty they have created for both the applicant and objector,” he said. 

Mr Niemann said he was frustrated.  

“If this (objection) is valid then it will be an additional cost and construction would be delayed,” he said.

An artist's impression of the proposed theatre

An artist's impression of the proposed theatre


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