For Sale: La Trobe University to sell off two prime lots to fund existing campus improvements

La Trobe University will this week advertise the sale of two prime plots of land deemed surplus to requirements in its Campus Master Plan. 

One parcel of land is the 2.1 hectare Central Victorian Innovation Park (CVIP) on Edwards Road, currently occupied by Bendigo Telco, while the other is a 3.3 hectare plot on Friswell Avenue, Flora Hill – a site which was partially developed for residential subdivision years ago, but never finished. 

La Trobe University Bendigo head of campus Robert Stephenson said the Edwards Roads site would be sold as a commercial or mixed used holding, while La Trobe was open to development ideas for the Friswell Avenue land, which will be offered on a cash basis or as a joint venture development with the university.

Mr Stephenson said given the population growth expected in Bendigo, requirements for student, or a variety of rental accommodation would increase.

“Our ambition is to grow considerably and that’s not just about attracting local commuter students. We need to be in a position to attract students from elsewhere which will create a longer-term need for accommodation,” he said. 

La Trobe University has a planning permit for a residential subdivision at the Friswell Avenue site. Both plots will be sold by expression of interest over a four-week period. 

Sale of the properties will require approval of the Victorian Government Land Monitor, and cannot be sold below the Victorian Valuer-General valuation.

Funds from the land sales will be put back into improving facilities at the university’s campus, Mr Stephenson said. 

PRIME LAND: The disused La Trobe University site in Flora Hill is one of a number of plots of unused Crown land identified by council as potential housing development spots.

PRIME LAND: The disused La Trobe University site in Flora Hill is one of a number of plots of unused Crown land identified by council as potential housing development spots.

La Trobe is in the midst of a $50 million upgrade of its Bendigo campus, which will be completed by the end of the year. 

A new arrivals plaza, extended library and student union building, and a new engineering building are part of the Bendigo Campus Transformation Program.

Mr Stephenson said the university didn’t see the Central Victorian Innovation Park (CVIP) as a failure, suggesting the park’s fortunes were a result of a changing market. 

“It (CVIP) was going to attract high tech data centres as an innovation precinct and really the nature of innovation has changed over time. Innovation happens collaboratively and not just in one particular space,” he said. 

“The world changes and you’ve got to set your priorities by how the world changes. 

“It (CVIP) didn’t attract additional operations, it didn’t fire at the time but in terms of the opportunities, opportunities change.” 

La Trobe University was finalising the sale of its athletics complex in Spring Gully to the City of Greater Bendigo.

COGB councillors voted to purchase the property from the university in December 2016, with the council planning a $1.45 million investment, including replacement of the ageing track.

Another site owned by the university which has been identified by the COGB as a potential infill development site is the former Bendigo Teachers College in Flora Hill. 

Mr Stephenson said no direct plans had been made at this stage. 

The COGB has identified up to 30 Crown land sites across the city for infill, medium-density housing development. 

Old school sites – like Golden Square Primary School and Golden Square Secondary College – were being considered.

As were disused plots of Crown land closer to the CBD, such as Chum Street, next to the St John of God Hospital.