Ideas needed for use of McDonald Centre

McDonald Centre. Picture: GOOGLE

McDonald Centre. Picture: GOOGLE

Ararat Rural City Coucil will call for the public to put forward ideas for the future use of the Alex and Jemima McDonald Centre in Ararat.

Cr Gwenda Allgood moved that Council call for public submissions and ideas for the future use of the McDonald Centre.

Cr Allgood spoke about the criteria for the use of the McDonald Centre as it was originally put forward when built and how it fits into the ideals of the Council Plan.

The Centre was designed by Herbert Coburn, a Ballarat architect, Councillor and Mayor of Ballarat who also designed the Ballarat Civic Centre in Mair Street. It was built by contractor C J Stewart in 1956.

The property and building were gifted to the Ararat community by Alexander McDonald who was a several times Shire President and a member of the Legislative Council for Ararat and Stawell.

A committee of management made up of the Shire of Ararat and City of Ararat representatives oversaw the operation of the complex until council amalgamations, which saw Ararat Rural City become solely responsible.

These days the Department of Sustainability and Environment remains the nominal land owner, with ARCC the Committee of Management. The Building is also covered by a Heritage Overlay in the Ararat Planning Scheme, which means that demolition, or any works or development that alters the exterior of the building would require a Planning Permit.

The eastern most building of the complex has been used by Grampians Community Health as offices, however the hall building has not been in active use for several years.

"I would like to see something done there and I know I have asked a number of times over a number of years what's going to happen to it and nothing has," she said.

Cr Allgood said she would like to see council ask the public for ideas and suggestions for its use.

"It's never been any secret that I am fond of that particular area ...it's a wonderful centre and I think it could be utilised," she said.

"I think it's an excellent building and under utilised and I would like to see something happen to it so it can be utilised back to the way McDonald suggested it should be used."

CEO Andrew Evans said Council has already received one submission for future use of the building from the Ararat City Band, and said that this was one group it was 'actively talking to'.

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