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Council to trash iconic 70s building

Updated: Apr 18, 2019

We’ve always loved to put on ripper parties celebrating the heritage and architecture of this great city we’ve grown from a tent town on the goldfields.

We saved the Shamrock Hotel when the government wrecker’s ball was poised to swing, repurposed an old gaol into a modern theatre and turned that other goldrush architectural icon the post office into a visitor information centre.

We’ve celebrated the architect William Vahland and even renamed a little street after him, looking onto Pall Mall as the trams rattle and click their way along the tracks every day between a gold mine poppet head that was rickety 50 years ago and a Chinese joss house rescued from neglect.

Council hasn’t always got things right – those lovely ornate verandahs were pulled down in the name of progress and a few iconic buildings in View St were reduced to rubble and replaced with dubious designs that quickly fell out of favour with even the short-sighted self-proclaimed trendsetters.

Luckily though, wandering the streets of Bendigo you can still pull out the trusty tourist camera or latest iPhone and click away for snaps of buildings through all the ages … including our iconic 1970s building the municipal offices in Lyttleton Terrace.

This epicentre of decisions good, and of late a few that are bad, by councils advised by highly-paid officers is Bendigo’s best example of a building from that era.

But six members of this council, up for re-election in just 18 months, have sold out to become a branch office for the state government – selling the land, knocking down the significant building, handing the cheque straight back to the government and committing to pay top dollar rent to the government for the next 40 years. All for a GovHub deal that duds Bendigo and gives old arch-rival Ballarat a bigger step up the ladder than climbing the Rosalind Park lookout.

Council is happy to airbrush a period of the city’s history on a folly that is probably stirring earlier civic leaders from their graves. We can hear them now preparing to march over the railway bridge down Mitchell Street in numbers not seen since the Red Ribbon Rebellion or when Chinese imperial dragons Loong met Sun Loong at Alexander Fountain at Easter 1970 just as work was advancing for the Lyttleton Terrace project.

The old gaol was given a new lease – it cost more than $25 million. Wouldn’t cost that much to add to storeys to the council’s offices in Lyttleton Terrace as the original plans and construction allow. We could even get Scott Cam back in Bendigo again for a special TV episode of The Block charting two storeys being added.

That way we’d keep and develop an iconic CBD asset, pay no rent to a government in Melbourne and retain our independence as a proud and passionate city. Remember when anything Ballarat did, Bendigo would do better?

Reckon that would get roars of approval from our iconic Chinese dragons!

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