Mair St Redevelopment

Mair Street redevelopment

By Georgie Hudson

 

The redesign of 300-304 Mair Street is intended to stimulate Ballarat's economy for business and to help develop the community's growth, as well providing new office accommodation for over 1,500 office based jobs in the heart of the city. This may be beneficial for business development, but should business development be Ballarat's number one priority for the next few years?

300-304 Mair Street is one of Ballarat's most memorable historic structures and is sadly also the most neglected. It was built in the 1950s after the Royal Prince Alfred Hall (which was built on Grenville Street in 1867) which was burnt down in 1953, which was suspected to be caused by arson.

During its opening year in 1956 the hall was used as a venue for celebrations during the Summer Olympics for events hosted by Ballarat - rowing and kayaking. It was in the 1960s when the two sculptural bronze statues made themselves an addition to the site. A depiction of William Shakespeare as an actor/director was sculpted in 1960, and Sir Walter Scott was sculpted in 1961.

For decades, 300-304 Mair Street was a major social venue in Ballarat, a venue for numerous concerts, balls, dances and graduations, as well as school examinations and exhibitions. It's a shame that such a memorable building in Ballarat is being torn down and replaced by office buildings when it could be used to benefit the community.

The redevelopment of 300-304 Mair Street will provide the community of Ballarat with 270 new car parks as well as new meeting spaces within the new building for the community which is great, but what about the people who don't have the opportunity to own a car, or don't have the opportunity to be a part of company meetings, or don't even have the opportunity to read this article?

This $40 million project should be rethought for the sake of the people in this community who don't have the opportunity for their voice to be heard. If this memorable hall is going to be torn down, it should at least be substituted with a place which supports the people in the community.

In Ballarat alone, there are approximately 400 people living homeless every night, which may not seem that many compared to our population of approximately 96,000, but this is still well exceeding the state average. Forty million dollars could easily provide a place for these people to feel safe and welcome, and could help with providing education and job opportunities for these people who for whatever reason, didn't get that opportunity.

This new building has forced Ballarat to borrow $30 million of the total cost. If the site were instead a project for the community itself, the cost could have been much lower. If the Ballarat community were building a place for our less fortunate and homeless citizens to take shelter, be provided with education and assistance with job employment opportunities, we would have been much more inspired to assist with the project, thus meaning there would be an extensive amount of community involvement, which would make us a much more coherent community as well as lowering the cost for the project.

The hall should be used as a support site for the community, for the people who don't have the opportunities that some of us do have. To submit your ideas and suggestions, simply visit the City of Ballarat's website, head to the project pages and directly to the Community Advisory Panel, or email directly to ballcity@ballarat.vic.gov.au.

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