North Fitzroy Community Hub

The North Fitzroy Community Hub is one of Council’s priority projects, many years in the making.

The community hub is expected to include a permanent library, maternal child health centre, community meeting spaces and a roof top garden.  The facility will be located at 182-186 St Georges Road, in the heart of North Fitzroy's shopping and dining precinct.

Planning permit approved

Council approved the planning permit application from Council’s Planning Department for the North Fitzroy Community Hub, subject to conditions, at its meeting on 8 July 2014.

The planning permit provides for the use and development of the site as a library and community hub and maternal child and health centre, as well as a reduction in the car parking and loading bay requirements and associated signage.

The permit application included expert reports in the fields of planning, transport, acoustics, heritage, waste management and environmentally sustainable design. 

Following the planning permit approval, Council will continue with the detailed design of the building and will complete the tendering process to appoint a construction company to build the facility. 

Construction of the community hub is expected to begin in late 2014 or early 2015. 

The full Council report and planning permit application can be viewed as part of the Council report and attachments from 8 July 2014

Project Background

In April 2011, Council compulsorily acquired the 940m2 triangle–shaped parcel of land at 182–186 St Georges Road for the hub. The land includes a former petrol station site and an adjacent house. Here is a media release issued by Council after it secured the land. More information about some of the steps involved in compulsorily acquiring the land is provided on this webpage about Amendment C126 to the Planning Scheme. The property’s owner will be paid fair market value for the land.

In May 2011, Council established a Design Reference Group (DRG) made up of community representatives and local Councillors. The DRG is providing ongoing advice to Council on the schematic (concept) design of the hub and the associated urban design for Best Street. 

In the 2012-2013 financial year, Council allocated $700,000 towards preparing for construction of the hub. The project is expected to cost about $14.5 million (which includes the cost of purchasing the land).

Design Reference Group 

 In May 2011, Council established a Design Reference Group (DRG) to provide advice to Council on the schematic design of the hub and the associated urban design for Best Street.

The DRG provided advice to Council on:

  •  How the proposed design responds to current and anticipated local needs.
  •  How the proposed design responds to urban design, heritage and associated urban planning matters.

Proposed hours of operation

The hours of operation for proposed services in the Community Hub are as follows:

Library (7 staff)

Mon to Wed – 10am – 8pm
Thur – 10am – 6pm
Fri – 1pm – 6pm
Sat – 10am – 3pm
Sun – 2pm – 5pm

Maternal and Child Health Centre (2 staff)

Mon to Friday – 10am – 3pm

Community Rooms and Roof Garden (maximum 150 people)

Mon to Sat – 10am – 10pm
Sun – 10am – 6pm

Access Yarra (customer service counter with two staff)

Mon to Fri – 9am – 5pm

 Questions and Answers about the North Fitzroy Community Hub project

 Please find below some answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the project.

What services are proposed?
Why is a new library needed?
What is the total budget for the North Fitzroy Community Hub?
What facilities would be available for community hire?
What is the proposed capacity of the rooms?
How was the land acquired?
Is the building going to be environmentally sustainable?


What services are proposed?

  The Hub is proposed to include:

  • A new library to replace the current make–shift North Fitzroy library service which operates out of a shopfront in St Georges Road. The new library would be about three times larger than the existing library, and would provide better opportunities for reading, studying and relaxing.
  • A family and children’s area which would provide maternal & child health services, feeding rooms and activity spaces for playgroups, occasional child care and other potential uses.
  • Two seminar rooms within the library that would be available for community use.
  • A large flexible community activity space that would be used by multicultural seniors groups but would also be available for community use. This space would be adjacent to a roof garden which would be available for outdoor activities.
  • A customer service area within the library to handle Council payments and respond to inquiries about general Council matters.

Why is a new library needed?

The local community has been calling for a permanent, purpose–built library in North Fitzroy for several decades. A North Fitzroy library has operated in leased premises in and around St Georges Road since the early 1980s.

The current North Fitzroy library is the smallest of the five library branches operated by Yarra Council. However, the library is well–used by the local community, which indicates there is strong demand for local library services.

 A report by library services expert John Liddle in 2003/04 found the North Fitzroy library was performing equivalent to or better than other Yarra libraries. However, it identified several shortcomings including:

  •  the space was uninviting and lacked vibrancy
  • additional space was required to house an expanded collection
  • access for people with disabilities did not meet regulatory standards and required significant improvement
  • additional computers were required
  • there was a need for the opening hours to be expanded on evenings and weekends
  • the informal meeting and reading space was not meeting community expectations, and
  • space for school groups and children’s activities was inadequate

Minor improvements were made to the existing library in 2005 to provide better access for people with disabilities.


What is the total budget for the North Fitzroy Community Hub?

 The project is expected to cost about $14.5 million.  

 Funding for the project has been provided for in Council’s long–term financial plan, with the annual budget allocations to be confirmed as part of the budget process each year.

Council has received $1m funding towards the project from the State Government from the Living Libraries Fund and Community Support Fund.

What facilities would be available for community hire?

The facility will have a significant number of spaces which will be available for hiring by community members.  All spaces for hire would include either a kitchen or tea–making facilities, depending on the size of the area.

How was the land acquired?

In April 2011, Council became the official owner of the site in St Georges Road where the hub will be built. Council compulsorily acquired the 940m2 triangle–shaped parcel of land at 182–186 St Georges Road. The land includes a former petrol station site and an adjacent house.

Compulsorily acquiring the land involved introducing an Amendment to the Yarra Planning Scheme to apply a Public Acquisition Overlay (PAO3) over the land. The owner made a submission to Council against the acquisition. An independent planning panel considered the submission, and ultimately recommended that the Amendment be approved. The panel found there was strategic justification for the Amendment, that it was supported by State and local policy and that the process had been fair to the owner. The Minister for Planning considered the panel’s report and approved the Amendment.

Council’s decision to compulsorily acquire the site came after it conducted an extensive search for available properties in the North Fitzroy village. The property’s owner will be paid fair market value for the land. More information about some of the steps involved in compulsorily acquiring the land is provided on this webpage about Amendment C126 to the Planning Scheme.  

Is the building going to be environmentally sustainable?  

Council has nominated the North Fitzroy Hub for the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA)’s Public Building Tool Pilot Program.

Council is proposing to design the building to a GBCA 6–Star Rating which would put the project at Australian leadership standard. More information about the rating tool is available on the Green Building Council of Australia website.


Further information
Craig Kenny
Director - Community Programs
9205 5100
Craig.Kenny@yarracity.vic.gov.au   

 

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