A GOVERNMENT jobs hub, another construction boost for Bendigo TAFE and land for law courts amount to almost $100 million in gains for Bendigo in this week’s state budget.
The state government expects the spending will create construction jobs and developer interest as a round of local infrastructure projects is completed in the city leading up to the Victorian election in November.
Completion dates for the newest round of proposed projects are set within the term of the next government.
The budget showed the state government rationed its contribution to Bendigo, pitching in $16 million for the proposed $90m GovHub, enough, it hopes, to attract a private sector developer.
It also expects the City of Greater Bendigo to sell into the development buildings and land in the city centre it owns, which are on the site of the proposed hub.
The council has identified four buildings that would be sold – the Lyttleton Terrace offices, the Jaara building, a St Andrews Avenue building and Mundy Place facing Mundy Street.
It leases the other three sites it occupies not including the Capital, Bendigo Art Gallery, the depot, visitor centres or maternal and child health centres.
The sale would leave the council paying rent to the developer for office accommodation, but a spokesperson said although the long-term costs were still to be determined, there will be efficiencies gained from working in a new building and sharing with other government departments.
“The city’s main office was built in the 1960s so it does not meet modern, efficient office standards,” the spokesperson said.
“By taking up a smaller footprint and operating mainly from one building, the city will reduce its utility costs and environmental outputs will be less.
“There’s also opportunities to share services and office equipment.
“This development, along with others to receive funding in (this week’s) budget will also activate the CBD.
“You cannot put a value on projects that will drive economic activity.”
The promised $60m for Bendigo TAFE will “revitalise” its city campus and include a commercial precinct with the potential for income from a ground lease, the details of which have yet to be negotiated.
A Bendigo TAFE spokesman said the purpose behind the business plan that identified funding for revitalisation was to attract people onto the campus.
Training and skills minister Gail Tierney is in Bendigo today to review the plans that will see the creation of three distinct precincts, education, community and commercial.
Bendigo TAFE chief executive Trevor Schwenke said improvements to the campus would also “boost activity in the northern part of the Bendigo’s CBD”.
“We are very keen to keep the momentum going and we very much welcome funding in the budget so we can continue activating this important part of the city,” Mr Schwenke said.
Bendigo will share $20m with Werribee to acquire land to build new law courts, a sum that was necessary given the state government contributed more than $3m in this year’s budget to develop plans for new courts.
Court Services Victoria has put top priority on building new facilities in Bendigo given its concession that security arrangements at the Pall Mall building are below par.
It is unknown yet where the new courts will be built although the way is still open for construction on the Bendigo TAFE site which has the most talked about option.
The budget contribution that has attracted the most talk is $172m to make priority TAFE and pre-apprenticeship courses free.
A separate initiative will allow students to attend an additional year of high school and graduate with an apprenticeship or traineeship. Bendigo has been identified as a hot spot for youth unemployment, a disadvantage the state Labor government will need to show it has tried to remedy before November.
– Sharon Kemp