A CITY of Greater Bendigo councillor has called for action on a plan to build a multi-storey car park on the city’s lawn tennis courts, to ease pressure in the precinct.
North West Plains Ward councillor Bruce Phillips has advocated for the plan for a number of years, and said with the new theatre plan for the former Bendigo jail, a plan he supports, the need was now urgent.
“I’m the first to admit that we may have done better in terms of car parking in this precinct,” he said.
“In the fullness of time, I believe, that we will have to provide increased and more accessible car parking in this very popular and used precinct.
“I may, or not, have been the first to advocate the use of the, already, excavated area of the lawn tennis courts to provide, say, 400 car parking spaces, with reinstatement of the tennis courts on top, but over the eight years of such pushing and promotion, I’ve not been able to get much traction.
“It, until now, has may not been urgent, it will cost about $6 million, including accommodation of the tennis fraternity, and council has been consumed with other pressing funding priorities.”
Cr Phillips, who will run in the Lockwood Ward at the October election, said the theatre plan was too important to stall.
“There appears to be very strong, an encouraging, public support for the development of the major theatre at the jail site with a few individuals dissenting,” he said.
“This is an issue which will not be solved by a ‘head in the sand’ philosophy. It is not a reason to refuse a unique opportunity to build the theatre that Bendigo needs and deserves, but it is strong motivation to continue to advocate, and work toward, provision of the car parking space needed to serve the precinct with minimal effects on the other essential functions .
“This is not a sentence but a pardon from our constraints and a statement of progress.
“The deal on table is a mere basic cost of $3m for a $23m facility.
“Council may be criticised for being opportunistic but, equally, has been commended for taking such a rare opportunity.”
Cr Phillips said a car park on the tennis courts was vital to accommodate the theatre and the other uses of the precinct, including parking for hospital staff.
“There are some who can’t appreciate the potential of the theatre scheme, some who don’t care, and some who believe that parking is not needed because people will come to the precinct by bus, taxi, on foot or bicycle,” he said.
“In reality, this a precinct used, for various reasons, by the whole municipality and the region.
“Very few will come other than by car. If council could manage conflicts for demand of parking spaces within time frames - it might all work, but I cannot accept that council has control of everything that might happen at any given time.
“There is also the issue of shift change of staff at the hospital which has the propensity to double the parking requirement over a short time period.
“Council has committed to a new study to cater for all parking needs in the precinct with financial support of Bendigo Health and the State Government.“Council also needs to pull the Rosalind Park Master Plan out of the bottom drawer and revise it to take account of recent proposals.”