LEGAL groups and community organisations have provided their preferences and advice for the new Bendigo Law Courts as Court Services Victoria prepares its case for final funding.
A range of groups including the Bendigo Law Association, Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre, local police, court staff and Bendigo Health were among those to attend the two-day session in Bendigo this week.
Relocating the law courts to a new site in the Bendigo TAFE CBD precinct is one of the top priorities for funding for the City of Greater Bendigo and business advocacy group Be.Bendigo with the state election next month.
The Bendigo Advertiser understands the courts are proposed to be located at the Mundy Street-end of the TAFE precinct, with the possible demolition of a building at the corner of Mundy and Hargreaves streets to make way for purpose-built courts.
Bendigo TAFE will develop the Chapel Street-end of the campus, using $59.9 million in state government funding. The development will sit alongside the TAFE health and community centre of excellence on McCrae Street, freeing up much of the remainder of the campus for the court development.
Consultancy firm Nous ran the sessions in Bendigo this week to help gauge the preferred scope of the courts project, with the plans to be submitted to the Victorian attorney-general.
Bendigo Law Association president Juliana Smith said there were a range of factors to consider in developing the courts.
“There’s technological solutions, safety, access, separate entrances, security, toilets, interview rooms,” she said.
“It’s also about learning from the court development at Shepparton.
“The old courts are lovely, but they are difficult to use. There’s a lot of issues that need to be addressed.”
The state government provided Court Services Victoria with $20 million in this year’s budget to acquire land for new courts in Bendigo and Werribee.
The courts could follow a similar service delivery model to the Shepparton Law Courts redevelopment, which was officially opened in March.
LCCLC manager and principal lawyer Lindy Harland said the session was productive and the main focus was about finding the ideal service delivery model, rather than discussions about preferred sites.
“They wanted to get an understanding of what services would be ideal for Bendigo into the future,” she said.
“It was a very interactive and visual session.”
Court Services Victoria director major projects Michael Carroll said negotiations were ongoing.
“A preferred site for the Bendigo Court has been identified, and negotiations between CSV and the site owners are continuing,” he said.
“CSV is working with the legal community, a range of key stakeholders and the City of Bendigo to ensure any future development meets the needs of the local community.”
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