LIVE: Bendigo council meeting

Reporter William Vallely will be tweeting and posting a live video on Facebook of the council meeting from 6pm. Follow him on @williamvallely or watch the live stream here


8.30PM – Councillors voted to authorise its chief executive officer to sign a new four-year funding agreement with Bendigo Heritage Attractions. Funding for the 2017-18 financial year will be $600,000 and this amount will be indexed annually with CPI. Another $450,000 will be provided each year for capital works and maintenance of buildings.

Bendigo Heritage Attractions is responsible for a number of historic city assets, including the Central Deborah Gold Mine, Bendigo Tramways and the Bendigo Joss House Temple, which was constructed in the 1860s. 

8.15PM –  Councillors vote in agreeance with a council report on the Bendigo Club’s application to install a further 16 poker machines at its Park Sreet venue by opposing the plan.

In a submission to the state’s gambling regulator, which held a hearing hearing in Melbourne earlier this month to determine the application, the council suggested the economic and social impacts of the proposal would be detrimental to the community.

“There appears to be little demand for additional EGMs given the low usage rates of existing machines (at Bendigo Club). It appears the main motivation is to avoid tax. Tax avoidance is never a community benefit,” it stated.

Cr Andrea Metcalf said council needed to update its gambling policy, rather than relying on data from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, which could be construed in a number of different ways.

The report was put before council retrospectively and the result of the hearing is expected in the coming weeks.

An artist impression of the Aspire Precinct.

An artist impression of the Aspire Precinct.

8PM – An important decision on the development of the Aspire Precinct, which includes plans to build a multi-million dollar interfaith precinct in Bendigo, has been delayed a month, at the request of the developer Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst.

Its construction, adjacent to the Sacred Heart Cathedral, would involve the demolition of fences, partial demolition of an the existing parish hall and sections of the former paint shop, and alteration of access to a road.

7.50PM – Councillors vote in favour of the original motion, which is to adopt the outcomes of the Bendigo Urban Flood study 2013, which imposes flooding controls to a number of properties to ensure flooding is considered in development proposals.

7.40PM – A motion to refuse an amendment to adopt Bendigo’s urban flood study has been put forward by Cr Julie Hoskin, who suggested the council would be sitting on a “ticking time bomb” with a financial liability of $68 million per year. 

She said the information contained in the urban flood study was inaccurate and council would be loath to approve an overlay that would impact thousands of residents.

Councillor James Williams said he wasn’t keen to hold things up, but agreed the information could be more comprehensive.

Motion defeated 7:2

7.20PM – Councillors voted to establish five new heritage precincts in the suburbs of White Hills and East Bendigo, in addition to extending two existing precincts.

Sixteen places of heritage significance and three miners cottages will also be protected under the changes.

The heritage study was sent to an independent panel for assessment after coming before council in May.

Cr Andrea Metcalf said there were a number of properties located within the proposed overlay that “weren’t worth fighting for”. 

Since the proposal was put to council in May, councillors had been engaged in debate about what is heritage and what isn’t, deputy mayor Jennifer Alden said.

Cr Matt Emond said “one thing we must be careful of is demolition by neglect”.

Councillors were reasonably divided with this motion, voting 5:4

SET TO TRANSFORM: The 2.6-hectare block of empty land between Lansell and Lloyd streets could become home to more than 100 mixed-size homes in the future.

SET TO TRANSFORM: The 2.6-hectare block of empty land between Lansell and Lloyd streets could become home to more than 100 mixed-size homes in the future.

7.00PM – Councillors vote in favour of the Lansell Crest Development in East Bendigo. Crs Hoskin and Flack opposed the motion. The decision will be forwarded to the state planning minister for approval. 

6.40PM – Speaking on the Lansell Crest development – Bendigo’s first medium-density housing project –councillor James Williams said the site’s proximity to the central business district could help revitalise the area.

“We’ve seen people moving out of the CBD, this is a way of putting people back in that space,” he said.

“We’re not just going to sprawl.

“Unfortunately some people don’t like it in their backyard but it is a deliberate plan of council. This is the first of a number of developments in the future that will see the city’s construction change.”

Cr Julie Hoskin, speaking on behalf of 100 people who opposed the proposal, said residents feel the development plans are deceptive. 

“I’m not a fan of packing and stacking beehive developments being entertained across Bendigo,” she said.

“It may set a dangerous precedent for the community and be something council might come to regret.”

The site is located in East Bendigo. 

6.30PM – A petition to improve street parking within the Girton College and Sacred Heart Cathedral precincts achieved a resolution, of sorts, with council committing to a review of its residential parking policy in 2017-18. 

6.20PM – Councillors received a petition from Epsom Primary School students concerned with the safety of their fellow classmates.

A petition to have a ‘lollypop person’ stationed at the intersection of Howard Street and the Midland Highway. garnered over 1200 signatures. 

Council thanked the youngsters for their efforts and said it will consider the petition and present a response at its next meeting.

6PM – Welcome to our live blog of the Bendigo council meeting, much to discuss tonight, including the Lansell Crest development and Aspire precinct.

Full November 15 council agenda