Council has approved a start to site works for the iconic Our Place development.
At its meeting yesterday, Councillors endorsed both preconstruction works plans and the Monash Drive Car Parking Upgrade design.
Mayor Bill Moar said it will be exciting to see the start of works to make way for the new facility.
“The Our Place building will be a space for creativity, culture and tourism, and it’s great to see the project moving ahead,” Cr Moar said.
“This is an exciting development for our community and for our long-term economic future,” Cr Moar said.
The multipurpose space will be home to the Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery, visitor services, the Pioneer Settlement entrance and a new Aboriginal cultural experience.
“Council is working to establish Our Place as a learning, interpretation and information hub for our region,” Cr Moar added.
“The development also aims to stimulate further economic development in the Swan Hill region.”
Council’s Director of Development and Planning Heather Green said site preparation works were expected to start in June or July.
“These works will involve the need to remove or move some existing infrastructure, hard surfaces, established trees, fencing and gardens,” Ms Green said.
“This preparation will ensure a seamless transition between getting the site ready and starting construction.”
A risk assessment by an arborist has recommended the removal of a number of trees along the eastern side of Monash Drive. These trees are past their safe life and will soon be removed for safety reasons.
“Council worked with our landscape architect towards retaining the trees, but the arborist’s report made it clear that the trees are a danger and must be removed. These concerns were underlined by the loss of a major limb from one of the trees in January,” Ms Green said.
Ms Green acknowledged that there would be widespread disappointment among the community regarding the removal of the trees.
“Council is also disappointed however, the safety of pedestrians and visitors to the Pioneer Settlement and the surrounding precinct is Council’s number one priority and is at the forefront of this decision.
“Council will ensure timber from the trees is repurposed throughout the new landscaping design wherever possible, likely to be incorporated into seating and landscape artwork installations.
“Remaining timber will be used at the Pioneer Settlement.”
Ms Green said extensive landscaping would beautify the area.
“This will include new tree plantings to establish a shaded canopy to the project’s entry lawn and garden area, making it a place for all visitors and locals to enjoy in the future.”
As part of the development, there will be an upgrade to the road and parking in Monash Drive.
“The installation of angle parking will allow us to double the current parking capacity to 110 spaces,” Ms Green said.
“All-abilities car parking will be added, along with short-stay spaces and parking for long vehicles and buses.”
A community newsletter is being distributed in the area to households directly impacted by upcoming works, as well as those that have expressed an interest in the Our Place project. The newsletter is also available on Council’s website.
“We want our residents to share in the excitement of Our Place and will continue to keep the community updated throughout the development of the project,” Ms Green added.
“We are planning an opportunity in the near future for local residents and community members to tour the site.”
Our Place is part-funded by the Federal Government’s Regional Growth Fund.