AFTER almost five years of debate and discussion, Kane Constructions will take possession of Horsham Town Hall’s redevelopment project site next week.
It will be the biggest project in the city’s history.
In March 2009 Horsham Rural City Council announced it had applied for up to $6 million through the Federal Government’s $550-million Regional and Local Communities Infrastructure Program to redevelop the town hall, with an estimated project cost of $12 million.
Since then, there have been a number of project designs put forward, community meetings, two Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal cases and multiple cost increases.
The ﬁnal total project cost of more than $19.6 million includes a new 501-seat auditorium, art gallery education space and streetscape works in Pynsent and Wilson streets that cost about $700,000.
The state and federal governments have committed $11.5 million to the project, while council will pay more than $8 million.
Council technical services director John Martin said the contractor would take possession of the existing building for the ﬁrst stage of the redevelopment.
“The contractor is going to have to do some preliminary work, which will involve establishing the site ofﬁce in the front part of the building in Wilson Street,” he said.
“They will need a functioning ofﬁce to make this work, and that’s what they will be doing for a start.”
He expected the site area, which incorporates the town hall carpark in Pynsent Street, would be fenced off in the following weeks.
“The contractor might put up some fencing to start with, but I expect the carpark will be available for use for all of next week, possibly even the week after until Kane Constructions fully occupies the site,” Mr Martin said.
“The contractor is on leave this week, but we will communicate ﬁrm details as soon as we have them.”
People will need to ﬁnd alternative parking once the site is fenced off.
Construction is anticipated to take about 17 months.
Council has started preparatory works on a laneway along the eastern side of the Coller Rathgeber Property Group building, connecting Pynsent Street to Wilson Street.
“There were some light poles there that have been removed and some other preparations so the laneway can be used for vehicle and foot trafﬁc,” Mr Martin said.
“We are developing some written information for businesses that use the area about how trafﬁc will work, which we hope to have available in the next week.”
Laser Electrical has started work on an underground power supply for Pynsent Street.
“Works will involve the installation of conduits and cabling from the installed electrical service pits at the front of Pynsent Street establishments to the metering boxes inside the premises,” Mr Martin said.
He expected power supply would continue uninterrupted, despite the works.
Changeover to underground electrical supply will start next month.
Council has also offered to meet businesses adjoining the town hall on Tuesday to update them on the contractor’s plans for the week.
The meeting agenda includes a status report from council, information about the project’s trafﬁc management plan and opportunities to discuss potential issues.
More than 12 traders signed a letter dated December 13 asking to talk with council about the potential impact of the construction on their businesses.
Mr Martin said Tuesday’s meeting was scheduled partly in response to the letter.
It would be the ﬁrst of a series of regular site meetings.
“Council has received responses from a couple of businesses in the vicinity of the town hall advising that they will be on holidays at the date of the planned site meeting,” he said.
“Recognising that not all businesses will be able to attend, council will also arrange a subsequent discussion in early February to ensure all businesses have an opportunity to participate.”
For the most part, Mr Martin said people were unlikely to notice any changes in the area until demolition began, about February.
“The town hall’s main auditorium will remain, but the supper room and a small annex at the rear of the building are part of the initial works to be demolished,” Mr Martin said.
“The contractor will also start work on the town hall carpark area, boring holes for the foundations of the new building.”
The damaged Pynsent Street toilet block is likely to remain for some time, for use by construction staff.