PHILLIP Island could receive the ultimate birthday gift for its 150th anniversary after Bass Coast Shire Council voted in favour of surging forward with major projects, worth more than $16m, for Cowes.
The three developments – a new Jetty Triangle, Transit Centre and a redeveloped Cowes Cultural and Community Centre – are all due to be completed by November 2018.
There’s just one catch – State and Federal Governments will need to come to the party by funding $5.5m each to the project.
That’s on top of the $5.25m council has already committed to the plans, dubbed the ‘Cowes Revitalisation Project’.
And as part of last week’s monumental decision, councillors also endorsed an impressive concept design for the CCCC.
Former councillor and long-time cultural centre working group member, Anne Davie, is confident the redevelopment of the Thompson Avenue site will finally happen.
“It’s very exciting,” she said.
“And it’s not just a win for Cowes and Phillip Island – it’s a win for the whole shire.”
Ms Davie was the first to float the idea to redevelop the centre 25 years ago.
“I put up a proposal for a community and arts centre in 1991,” she recalled.
“An architect was hired to complete the design but nothing ever happened.
“Then amalgamation of the shire came along and it went on the wayside – but it was never completely forgotten.”
Plans for the redevelopment resurfaced in 1996, 2005 and again in 2009, but the project remained in limbo.
This time, however, Ms Davie is confident the grandiose community hub will become a reality.
The design endorsed by councillors includes an expanded multi-purpose community hall to 320sqm, accommodating 250 seats and a 200 person theatre, enlarged innovative library, art and craft spaces, lifelong learning experiences including dedicated space for Phillip Island Community and Learning Centre (PICAL), spaces for genealogical and historical societies and council customer and visitor services.
Council, however, also resolved to extend the community hall to 360sqm to accommodate 300 seats should additional funding become available through fundraising, grants or reduced tender costs, as well as further investigate the issue of fixed versus retractable seating during the detailed design phase.
Cr Andrew Phillips said the planned redevelopment of the centre will transform the current civic buildings and offer a range of activities consistent with contemporary cultural and community centres.
“It will be a dynamic, interactive centre that provides a venue focussed on community activities and events,” Cr Phillips said.
“As part of a broader precinct, including a transit hub, all day car park, health and medical hub and proposed aquatic centre, it will be a bustling community hub.
“The redevelopment will improve and increase services to a growing population, add value to the visitor experience and be a catalyst for further economic investment.”