A proposal to allocate $15 million towards stage one Bakery Hill and Bridge Mall precinct works has been approved at the May 15 Ballarat City Council meeting.
The project will include the re-opening of Bridge Mall to sensitively and safely designed vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The community will have input into the design and key elements to make it a safer, vibrant precinct we can all be proud of.
The plan is to return the Bakery Hill/Bridge Mall precinct to a thriving city centre offering a unique mix of shopping, business, living and entertainment options.
The funding would be spread over the three financial years, starting in 2019/20.
It follows strong community feedback requesting a major investment in the Bakery Hill/Bridge Mall precinct, following a gradual decline in commercial and retail activity in the area.
Retaining the status quo in the Bridge Mall is not an option and action is urgently required now.
Directly responding to community and business requests for action, the works would include green and community spaces, business and property development partnerships, and the creation of a new arrival experience to the CBD worthy of Ballarat’s iconic heritage buildings – including vehicles and pedestrians through the Bridge Mall.
The exact scope and design of the spaces has not yet been decided and would be developed in partnership with the community over the coming months.
It is part of significant investment for the entire Bakery Hill/Bridge Mall precinct over the next two to five years, including Little Bridge Street and Curtis Street.
The master planning work is currently being supported by the Victorian Planning Authority.
- An economically thriving precinct which has a strong and unique identity
- A thriving business village with investment in key sites and strong investor confidence
- Tourism destination which tells the richness of Ballarat’s story through a tourist route
- A place that celebrates history and the people who made that history, from our indigenous origins, through the gold rushes and beyond.
- Abundance of linked green spaces
- An adaptable, premium mixed-use, safe, accessible and environmentally sustainable area which can be enjoyed by all, all year round
- An urban village which is responsive and resilient to climate change
- Improve pedestrian, bicycle and public transport connections through the precinct
- Re-introduce movement and vehicular traffic but at a scale and pace that allows people to see the beauty of Bridge Street and the heart of Ballarat.
Problems it solves
Commercial and retail activity declining rapidly
Over the past seven years, there has been a significant vacancy rate downturn within the Bridge Mall. Of the 199 shops in the Bridge Mall, there was a 17.6 per cent vacancy rate in January this year, which has nearly tripled since the 2012 5.8 per cent vacancy rate.
With the opening of other retail activity centres, such as the Delacombe Town Centre and Coltman Plaza in Lucas, the Bakery Hill and Bridge Mall precinct also needs to establish its own identity to ensure it can thrive long-term.
Heritage and the history of Bakery Hill is a significant element of this project. Council is investigating different ways in which the precinct’s history and story can be integrated into public spaces and some of council’s investment will go into enhancing and improving heritage buildings.
Safety and security
The City of Ballarat’s Right to the Night project has highlighted the Bakery Hill and Bridge Mall precinct as one of the areas women feel least safe in Ballarat. Having a night time economy based around hospitality venues would help alleviate these concerns, along with significantly increased pedestrian traffic.
Lack of open space and green spaces
The community told us they want to see more open and green spaces in the precinct.
As part of the future they vision for the precinct, council is hoping to achieve a minimum of one hectare of green space across the precinct. This will include redesigning and building a playground which is safe and accessible for all children to use. The location and design of this play space will be subject to further consultation.
The way forward
Design proposals will be put out for community consultation during the next stage of consultation which begins in June.
Decisions on the larger Bakery Hill/CBD Urban Renewal Project, including car parks to the south and north of the Bridge Mall, will be discussed later in the year.