THE South Gippsland Shire Council will be asked, next Wednesday, December 20, at a jam-packed pre-Christmas meeting, to endorse a recommendation to locate Korumburra’s Community Hub on the vacant railway land.
Option 1, the former kindergarten site at 4 Victoria Street and Option 2 the old Birralee site and adjoining land; both involving the acquisition of privately owned houses, have been relegated out of contention for now.
And councillors will find it hard to go any other way after public submissions to the community hub and new supermarket consultation process reportedly came out “overwhelmingly” in favour of the railway yards site.
But it’s by no means a done deal and in a report to go to the council meeting next week, the shire has pledged to have more consultation if problems arise with the preferred site or other major issues arise.
The main advantages are listed in the report as follows:
• The hub will benefit from the co-location of other uses expected for the old railway station buildings
• The location of the hub on the northern side of the main street will “activate a new area of the township”
• The land is flat, can provide plenty of car parking, and the building can gain views of the surrounding rural landscape
• The hub will be situated next to a future rail trail and be the first critical step in re-purposing the railway yards as a usable public space
• The large railway land area offers potential for future development
• The land is in public ownership (VicTrack) and therefore avoids the prospect of compulsorily acquiring private land.
But the development is not without its challenges, one of the most obvious being trying to deal with the relevant external agencies, including the notoriously ponderous owners of the land, VicTrack, and government departments including DELWP and VicRoads who will have a say about where the hub is sited and how it can be accessed.
The shire has listed delays in the development of a new community hub and library as one of the biggest risks due to the cost of temporary facilities while a permanent solution is found.
With a $5 million price tag, simply raising the funds via government grants could also be problematic.
But the council has already set its course for the future by endorsing the sale of the existing library and associated parcels of land to the supermarket developers.
If the project goes ahead, and it’s purely up to the developers now, the shire will have to find a new home for the library and other community services… and quickly.
Sites other than the three preferred options have also been considered, according to the report
“The Discussion Paper comments on other possible hub location options and why they are not considered appropriate. Some of these sites have been raised by the community during the consultation process, most notably the current IGA supermarket site, which is considered to have poor town centre and pedestrian connectivity and is visually isolated from the town centre”.
At the suggestion of the community, the shire also looked at a site in Radovick Street.
“An additional site recommended to Council in submissions is the Radovick Street Senior Citizens site extended to include the adjoining land to the north (medical facility, newspaper office and car yard).
“The Discussion Paper noted that the Senior Citizens site alone is too small to site the hub however the inclusion of the surrounding privately owned land would provide sufficient land.
“While Council owns the Senior Citizens site, the cost of acquiring the adjoining lands (and the businesses which must also be purchased unless agreement is reached otherwise), is highly cost restrictive.
“In addition to the cost, the land has main road frontage and should preferably be retained as a retail opportunity. It is likely that the present Senior Citizens building and carpark will become a desirable retail location if disposed of by Council.
“This location is not recommended for the development of the hub.
“A further submission recommends that the hub be located in the former NAB bank building in Commercial Street. The building is two storey and would be difficult to convert to a hub. The additional car parking demand generated in Commercial Street would also likely create tensions with other commercial uses,” according to the report.
The council has the following recommendation before in its agenda papers for next Wednesday’s meeting: “1. Endorse the Korumburra Railway Yards (Option 3) as the preferred location for the Korumburra Community Hub. 2. Prepare site massing and preliminary building design work to identify the precise area and configuration of land required to facilitate development of the Korumburra Community Hub at the Railway Yards. 3. Undertake further investigation of key matters likely to impact development of the Korumburra Community Hub at the Railway Yards, including a traffic management study, land contamination investigation and the cost of physical infrastructure necessary to facilitate development at this location. 4. To have a full understanding of the requirements and potential costs involved in development at this location, consult with community users, relevant agencies and authorities with an interest or involvement in development of the Korumburra Community Hub at the Railway Yards.”