A planned community, education and interfaith hub at the foot of Sacred Heart Cathedral will not go ahead in its original form after it failed to receive federal government funding.
The Aspire Cultural and Charitable Foundation's board has now determined it would "not be possible to arrive at an outcome that would satisfy all stakeholder requirements within the overall business case".
Aspire Foundation chairman Gordon McKern said the foundation applied to three rounds of federal government funding, but was unsuccessful.
After failing to secure the federal government funding, it knocked back a $5 million state government contribution to the development because it was unable to fill the shortfall in funding.
The $15 million project had been in the works for several years, having been officially announced in 2014 when the first stage - the statue of Saint Mary MacKillop and the garden - were unveiled.
It was to include an interfaith 'interpretive centre' looking at the history of faith on the goldfields, a cafe, retail outlets, a library, a theatre, a hall, an exhibition space and a meeting space.
The interpretive centre was to have been interactive and included photographs and video, archival documents, artefacts and artworks.
Now the Aspire Foundation, the Diocese of Sandhurst and the cathedral parish are developing plans for the area between the cathedral and the parish hall.
Mr McKern said they were "reconceptualising" the precinct based on available resources.
"The Aspire Precinct will continue to develop a place of benefit to the community and as a welcoming gateway to the Bendigo CBD," Mr McKern said.
The timing of any future works was dependent on consultation with the community and planning authorities, he said.
The foundation had said the precinct would attract visitors to Bendigo and create more than 100 jobs during construction and operation.
The Labor party promised $5 million funding for the project in the lead-up to the 2014 state election, and by April 2016 the foundation behind the project had attracted another $5 million from the Diocese of Sandhurst and private donors.
It was originally planned that construction would begin in 2015 and be completed in 2017, and in December 2016, it was said it would start late the following year.
The foundation's website currently states work was expected to begin early this year.
"Delays have occurred due to planning and regulatory processes on what is a challenging site, given the topography, and difficulties sourcing the necessary funding," Mr McKern said.
A planning application was lodged with the City of Greater Bendigo in April 2017.
The plan drew opponents, who argued that the precinct in its proposed form would only worsen parking issues in a busy area.
City of Greater Bendigo councillors approved the development in a tight vote of 5-4 in December 2017.
It agreed to waive the requirement for car parks at the site, with a condition the foundation make a financial contribution to the council for 14 spaces.
The development would have meant the loss of eight parking spaces.
Objectors took their concerns to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in July last year, but the tribunal upheld the council's decision.
The tribunal added several conditions relating to hours of operation, deliveries, waste management, bus parking, signage and matters relating to the liquor licence for the site, to further limit risks to the amenity of nearby residential properties.
The permit issued by VCAT specified had to start within two years and be completed within four.
Max Turner, one of the residents who objected, said the concerns with the project lay only with the impact on parking.
"The people that were involved in the issue of parking never set out to do any harm to the project - in fact, most will be disappointed - but it should be a lesson to the Church to work with local people, and the same with council," Mr Turner said.
The late Tim Fischer, John Brumby and Gerry Ryan were ambassadors for the project.
Mr McKern said other projects to protect and preserve the history of Sacred Heart Cathedral continued.
October 2014: The proposed Aspire Precinct is officially announced.
November 2014: Labor promises $5 million for the development if it wins the 2014 election (it does).
April 2016: Aspire Cultural and Charitable Foundation board members travel to Canberra to try shore up federal support.
June 2016: The foundation calls on political parties to commit funding ahead of the federal election. The project failed to attract federal funding.
December 2017: City of Greater Bendigo councillors approve the development in a 5-4 vote, despite strong objections related to the impact on parking availability in the area surrounding the cathedral.
December 2017: Objecting residents of the surrounding area consider taking their concerns to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
January 2018: The City of Greater Bendigo trials time-restricted parking in the area, although one of the opponents to the precinct plan says it is a "knee-jerk reaction" that will not solve the issue.
August 2018: VCAT approves the development, issuing a permit that requires work to begin within two years and finish within four.
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