Childcare centre bid ‘no better’


By Alesha Capone

The Werribee District Historical Society is continuing to express concerns about plans to build a childcare centre next to a heritage-listed former shire hall.

Freemasons Victoria, which owns the hall, has recently re-submitted a planning permit application to Wyndham council to build a 91-place childcare centre on the site.

The re-advertised proposal, in partnership with developers, has attracted 22 objections, while the original attracted 19 objections.

The former shire hall, on the corner of Watton and Greaves streets, dates back to 1867 and served as the first offices of Werribee council (which preceded Wyndham council) before being sold to the Freemasons.

Star Weekly last year reported that historical society secretary Lance Pritchard had criticised the proposal to build a childcare centre near the historic bluestone building.

Mr Pritchard last week said the historical society was objecting to the re-submitted proposal, which he described as “virtually no better” than the original.

He said that the historical society had submitted its own idea of how the childcare centre should be built, which involved the retention of a small bluestone wall on Greaves Street and the site’s existing entry and exit.

Mr Pritchard had concerns that current plans would obstruct views of the former shire hall.

He also described the proposed carpark as “unworkable”.

A spokesman for the developers said they had worked with the council to address historical design requirements for more than 18 months.

Freemasons Victoria’s president of the board of general purposes, Justin Stark, said the new proposal was “very sympathetic of the heritage of the site and maximises the integration of the bluestone building into the environment”.

Mr Stark said some of the funds earned by the childcare centre would be used for the heritage hall’s ongoing maintenance.

He said the proposal had been reviewed by a traffic specialist.

The council is yet to make a decision on the proposal.