A $4.5 million resort-style accommodation village will replace the Golden Square caravan park where almost 90 residents, many of them elderly and supported, lost their homes before Christmas.
Plans with the City of Greater Bendigo show land owners Lococo Property Solutions want to build 122 two-bedroom houses for both long and short term lease on the four hectares of land considered premium because it is close to the city centre, public transport and within walking distance to the Golden Square recreation precinct.
The road to luxury redevelopment at the High Street property included cancelling the caravan park lease held by Central City Caravan Park managers Christine and John Norman, after which local and state government and not-for-profit services stepped in to support more than 60 permanent residents into other accommodation.
The caravan park had been one of the few remaining short term options left for housing support service Haven Home Safe.
It is not known what rents the new development will attract.
Yet to be approved plans, submitted by planning consultants Spiire on behalf of Lococo, show the proposed lifestyle village, to be renamed Central Village Park, will include a club house with a bar, pool room, library, lounge, cinema, gym, sauna and steam room.
The plans allow for a new lap pool, outdoor area and a bocce court, landscaping of Bendigo Creek and a vegetable garden.
But the overall layout of the redevelopment will remain the same as the arrangement of the caravan park, and the owners will not subdivide the land.
Also, the village will be able to operate under the existing caravan park licence.
The plans say long and short term accommodation will be available and “the use of the land is not changing and as such, there are no permit triggers for land use”.
But despite all efforts to ease the way for plans, they are likely to face hurdles around flooding and land use.
A property owner in the area told the Bendigo Weekly they wanted the City of Greater Bendigo to buy the land and reserve it for recreation, a use that would fit with the development restrictions it faces because of flooding controls.
The North Central Catchment Management Authority said a year ago development would be challenging and there was a need for land to be left on the site for floodplain storage in order not to adversely affect properties downstream on Bendigo Creek.
There are already signs the development will fail to meet guidelines that could make the proposal the first to test the inundation overlay adopted by council last November.
A letter from the NCCMA included with the Golden Square plans warns that any new development must be set no closer to the top of the waterway than the existing development on site.
“The current proposed layout will result in development occurring closer to Bendigo Creek,” the letter said.
The developer replies that it does not want to do so.
Former resident Tony Pumpa, who is in a legal battle with Mr and Mrs Norman, stayed at the caravan park in protest well beyond December 29 when all residents were asked to vacate.
The site was vacated befor the March 18 deadline but buildings, roads, rubble and the swimming pool remain.
Mr Pumpa said he stayed in touch with some of the former park residents, some of whom had lived there for decades.
He said one of them was struggling financially because of higher rent. Many of the permanent park residents paid to clean up their site after they had sold up and moved.
For others, there was also a cost of moving the homes if they sold them, or if they moved elsewhere.
Mr Pumpa said he thought the development plans would be stalled by flood controls.
The Bendigo Weekly contacted for comment Mr and Mrs Norman and the directors of Lococo Property Solutions.
– Sharon Kemp