PLANS for the development of a $90 million one-stop shop for government services on the fringes of the Bendigo CBD have been dealt a blow, following confirmation a second agency originally touted to be part of the project has withdrawn.

In a statement released yesterday, North Central Catchment Management Authority chief executive officer Brad Drust confirmed the organisation would not be a tenant in the new GovHub building.

“Our current site at Huntly, which we own, meets our needs both financially and operationally. Our priority is to efficiently and effectively serve our communities and government, and staying on our Huntly site allows us to do that.

“A lot of the work we do is with communities outside of Bendigo, so being on the fringes of Bendigo suits us down to the ground.”

The NCCMA employs about 60 people at its Huntly site, and it’s understood that the NCCMA was included in early lists and calculations on possible tenants for the $90 million complex to be established on several parcels of adjoining land presently owned by the City of Greater Bendigo, based on its Lyttleton Terrace headquarters.

Coliban Water was also once considered a potential GovHub tenant, but the water authority declined to be part of the project after thorough consideration, when in August 2018 the Board of Coliban Water decided not to participate.

The water authority is the key tenant in a three-storey office building located on Bridge Street scheduled to go under the hammer early next month, and has an existing lease over part of the building it shares with Dorovitch Pathology, in place until 2022. Coliban also presides over separate office premises adjacent to the Bridge Hotel and on Water Street.

A state government spokesperson yesterday confirmed that in the early planning stage of the Bendigo GovHub, Regional Development Victoria approached a number of potential tenant groups including the North Central Catchment Management Authority and Coliban Water.

The spokesperson said the Bendigo GovHub is on track to meet its capacity and any future tenants will be announced as the project progresses.

It’s understood that RDV remains open to further conversations with the NCCMA and/or Coliban Water on future tenancies, should the GovHub present as a suitable option for their business operations.

Confirmed tenants for the $90 million hub so far include the City of Greater Bendigo, the newly created Portable Long Service Leave Authority, the Victorian Labour Hire Licencing Authority, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, as well as local jobs with the Department of Transport.

Up to 1000 public sector jobs will be located within the multi-storey GovHub building, which is expected to be completed in 2022.

The state government has allocated $16 million to the GovHub project, while the balance of the $90 million project is expected to be obtained via private investment.

The project’s proponents have scheduled a community consultation session tomorrow, Saturday, July 27, to be held in the Bendigo Town Hall.

Residents have been encouraged to attend the open session any time between 10am – 2pm, and to provide feedback on the concept designs for the new Bendigo GovHub. The session will offer opportunities to learn more about the GovHub design, meet the architects and share views with the project’s teams.

– PETER KENNEDY