Horsham's town hall and art gallery redevelopment will go ahead after the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal approved a planning permit on Friday.
The redevelopment will feature a foyer connecting Wilson and Pynsent streets, a 531-seat theatre, a refurbished art gallery and a new 77-seat cafe.
VCAT member Geoffrey Code supported the $17-million redevelopment after dismissing objectors' concerns about parking.
He said despite a loss of 131 car spaces, a study by traffic expert Ernie Mensforth showed that parking demand could be met around the centre.
Mr Code also said that while having trucks loading and unloading at the town hall and art gallery was not ideal, it was 'acceptable'. Horsham Rural City Council chief executive Peter Brown said council was pleased the redevelopment had been given the green light.
He said while VCAT had made some minor 'administrative adjustments', the tribunal had granted the redevelopment permit as given.
"We are obviously pleased with the decision, we are comfortable with the conditions and we believe they represent issues that we are comfortable to accommodate," he said.
"I believe that most of the community supports this proposal and supports the need for Horsham to have a performing arts centre and a revitalised art gallery.
"Many people are very pleased to see the town hall retained and people are very pleased to see the finer aspects of the art deco exterior and interior kept." Mr Brown said council would now focus on budget concerns as the VCAT decision was final.
He said while he did not know how much the tribunal hearing had cost, council would accommodate it on top of the project's $17 million budget.
"I think the only issue that will continue to confront the council is keeping the project within budget," he said.
"We will now finalise the short listing of the builders, finalise the detailed designs and ensure that before we go to tender that our costing are within budget.
"We would be very hopeful that given the current economic conditions that tenders will come in well under that $17 million but that is something only time will tell."
Mr Brown said the State Government had provided $5 million, plus another $1 million through the Local Government Infrastructure Program, the Federal Government had committed $5 million and $1 million had been received through fundraising.
He said the remaining $3 million would be covered by council resources, including rates, reserves and loan funds.
Mr Brown said 'if all went to plan' construction would begin in August and be completed by the end of 2015.
"I think people on all sides on this issue have expended a lot of effort and there has been a lot of interest. Hopefully this brings some resolution to all that and we can now move on to the next stage," he said.
The Mail-Times called project objectors Lou Krelle and Graham Gerlach. Mr Krelle declined to comment and Mr Gerlach did not respond by deadline.