THE Aspire interfaith project at the base of the Sacred Heart Cathedral will proceed without any additional parking but a VCAT judgement has put limitations on a refurbished, licenced parish hall that will be available to hire for private use.
Residents in streets surrounding the historic cathedral took to VCAT their objection that the City of Greater Bendigo approved the $15 million project without the 40 car parks it estimated would be required under its own parking requirements for major projects.
In his judgement, member Geoff Rundell ordered the Aspire board to arrange a designated bus loading area and a plan to deal with the movements of a large number of people but upheld the council’s decision to waive all parking spaces but require it contribute financially for 14 spaces.
Residents have complained about “the dangerous practice” of buses double parking outside the cathedral to deliver and pick up visitors to the historic building.
In his judgement, member Rundell said he could only make directions on the Aspire project, “I cannot fix the existing problems, and I am limited to directing the buses generated by the new place of assembly”.
Resident Max Turner who was part of the action said he was disappointed Aspire would go ahead without on-site parking, but he was not opposed to the project itself.
He said the VCAT case was a last resort.
“We felt there was no option having regard to council’s disregard for the amenities and liveability of residents in the Aspire precinct,” Mr Turner said.
The council said the VCAT decision vindicated its own planning decisions.
“Council carefully considered the arguments for and against this development and the tribunal’s decision shows that council made the right call,” strategy and growth director Bernie O’Sullivan said.
“We are pleased that the (Aspire Cultural and Charitable Foundation) can move forward with its development, in line with permit conditions.”
Member Rundell imposed conditions on project which focussed on addressing potential noise, light and unruly behaviour issues.
The conditions included operating hours, noise abatement and signage, waste storage and pick up, hours of loading and unloading, alcohol serving hours and when activities must end in outdoor areas.
Foundation chair Gordon McKern said Aspire would work within all the conditions.
“The foundation will work with the surrounding residents and hope that this precinct will add to the beauty of Bendigo and its grand buildings,” he said.
The project includes construction of a theatre, library, learning centre, exhibition space and meeting hall.