THE South Gippsland Shire Council is forging ahead with plans for a new community hub at the Korumburra railway precinct, announcing last week that the contract for the site masterplan has been awarded to architect’s Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT).
Council’s Manager of Infrastructure Planning Tony Peterson said the unique nature of the project, which includes building a community hub, skate park and community gardens alongside the historic station building, attracted plenty of interest.
But what really made it stand out was FJMT’s impressive track record of award-winning projects, including Bunjil Place, the Port of Sale and the Frank Bartlett Memorial Library in Moe.
The FJMT team visited the site for the first time last Friday, meeting with Mr Peterson and Mayor Lorraine Brunt.
Principal architect Geoff Croker said the site presented its fair share of challenges but that his team was excited to get to work on the masterplan, which they hoped to deliver by April next year.
“Now that we’ve been awarded the contract, we’ll be starting the design work, conducting site investigations and consulting with the various stakeholders,” he said.
“The hill top location, heritage building and multiple users of the site all present challenges but we’re committed to delivering a space everyone’s happy with, and a space the community will embrace and own.”
Mr Croker said the FJMT team was well-practiced in designing public buildings that fit into their surrounding context and that the community enjoyed using.
He said the linkage of the hub with the main street of Korumburra would be an important consideration in the design phase.
“It needs to be accessible and engaged with the main street, so pedestrian movement, vehicle movement will all need to be considered.”
Mayor Cr Lorraine Brunt said the awarding of the contract represented “significant leap in the right direction” for the community hub and the broader Korumburra Revitalisation Project.
“This really is great news for Korumburra and our wider South Gippsland community as the project will reinvigorate the town centre, stimulating investment and economic activity that will have benefits for our whole region,” Ms Brunt said.
“We cannot wait to see the work of Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp after seeing many of their inspiring projects come to life in Gippsland and beyond.”
There is currently no timeline for construction of the community hub, with council’s Major Projects Coordinator Penni Ellicott saying it should be thought of as a “big picture” project, taking shape over the next five years.
Ms Ellicott said council would be dependent on external sources such as the State Government for at least half of the total project cost, and that council was focusing on getting the project “shovel ready”, while at the same time advancing the extension of the Great Southern Rail Trail from Leongatha to Clyde.
“We’re in the very early planning stage now and the delivery depends on a lot of variables,” Ms Ellicott said.
“But we hope this announcement gives the community faith that this project is going to happen.”