Baw Baw Culture and Connection Precinct

  • Project typeNew construction
  • Project value$30 million
  • Project scheduleDesign, planning and advocating for funds
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We’re advocating for a new culture and community connection precinct for all in the heart of Baw Baw Shire.

The project aspires to build on existing underutilised areas surrounding the West Gippsland Arts Centre and Civic Park to create a new civic and community building, improve open spaces and maximise opportunities for community connectedness. Located in the heart of Warragul - Baw Baw’s largest town - the precinct will provide vital social infrastructure to service our rapidly growing community for generations to come.

The $30 million multi-level facility will feature:

  • New community library, including a children’s library, maker’s space, video gaming, reading, collection and study areas.
  • Gallery and cultural space.
  • Community meeting rooms.
  • Consulting rooms.
  • Co-working spaces.
  • Café.
  • Public terrace area.
  • Public amenities such as parent’s room and Changing Places facility.
  • Plaza and pedestrian connection to the West Gippsland Arts Centre.

Note: The main display image shown is a design concept only and subject to change.


Why do we need a new library and arts space?

The current Warragul library is in a small and ageing building with limited space for popular programs and larger events. The building design is not well suited to meet accessibility needs for people with disabilities and is non-compliant with current Australian accessibility standards. Amenities are inadequate and inconvenient, with the current accessible bathroom requiring access via the staff back office.

A commercial lease is in place for Council to occupy the current library building. This means ongoing costs with little control to make meaningful improvements to the facility.

Additionally, the current library building does not meet the expectations of a modern library nor the expectations of new residents moving to the area. Warragul has a population of 18,500, a forecast of 21,000 by 2026, increasing to 30,000 by 2041. This projected 43 per cent growth means the current library will only continue to decline and fail to accommodate essential services such as a place to study or meet for study groups.

Relocation to a new fit-for purpose, central and accessible location could improve library membership and service delivery to community members of all ages – from story time for children through to digital literacy classes for seniors. It is expected that a new library would experience considerable growth. Visitation is anticipated to increase at a minimum, by 200,000 – 300,000 per annum.

Baw Baw Shire has over 13,000 library members, with 60 per cent of those, members of the Warragul library. The new Warragul library will be the largest in the Shire and the ‘Flagship’ library for the region.

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Click on the image to view and enlarge a letter of support from 10-year-old local library member Claudia.

Baw Baw Shire currently has very limited gallery space to showcase local artists work. With a new centrally located and accessible dedicated art space, local artists would be provided with more opportunities to revitalise the arts scene after the impacts of Covid-19 and attract tourism and economic stimulation through new showings and exhibitions.

Myli and the Baw Baw Arts Alliance strongly supports the new proposed precinct and the opportunities this type of facility would bring to our community. Read more at Myli and Baw Baw Arts Alliance support Culture and Connection Precinct

Location

Perfectly positioned on the northern fringe of Warragul’s town centre, the new facility will integrate seamlessly with the existing West Gippsland Arts Centre - Baw Baw’s key arts, entertainment and culture venue - which recently underwent a successful $14 million redevelopment and includes a 760-seat theatre, meeting rooms and function spaces.

The two buildings will be connected by an accessible pedestrian plaza that feeds into Warragul’s town centre to the south and Civic Park to the north - a 12 acre established parkland with existing walking tracks and an accessible all-ages playground.

A new state of the art library will replace the old and outdated existing Warragul library currently positioned away from the town centre and other community amenities.

Land for the proposed facility is owned by Council and shovel-ready for development.

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Click on the image to view and enlarge the proposed site map.

Community benefits

The precinct will be a place for our community to:

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Five key ambitions for the precinct are outlined in the masterplan, including:

  1. Embrace its legacy of stewardship and continuity
  2. Embrace its park asset around Civic Park
  3. Inspire creativity, lifelong learning and collaboration
  4. Be a people oriented, vibrant precinct that is active by day and night
  5. Be a precinct with appropriately managed parking.

The staged delivery process will aim to achieve the following outcomes for the site:

  • Strengthening the connection between the Warragul CBD and the Precinct
  • Instilling an early sense of vibrancy and community orientation
  • Providing cornerstone creative, learning and collaboration opportunities
  • Establishing permanence for Council and Civic functions
  • Respecting legacy and stewardship
  • Minimising disruption and inconvenience during construction periods.

Building design

In April 2022, Melbourne-based architecture firm Croxon Ramsay was appointed to develop detailed designs for the facility based on their extensive experience in designing community hubs and libraries across Victoria.

The contract includes schematic design, detailed construction documentation and development of internal and external 3D modelling. Designs will aim to maximise use of the building space with accessible and innovative features, while attaining the highest Green Star energy efficiency rating possible. This state-of-the-art development will provide access to much needed community facilities designed to cater for all ages and abilities.

The design process will progress the project to the stage of being truly ‘shovel ready’, with construction contingent on securing much needed State and Federal Government funding support.

Read more at Architects appointed to design Baw Baw Culture and Connection Precinct 

Disclaimer: Image above is a concept only and may be subject to change as the project develops.

 

Funding and advocacy

Stage 1 of this project is estimated to cost $30 million, this includes the new three-story library and learning facility with the above listed scope of works.

Council has pledged $10 million – the largest investment in a single project in our history.

We are now seeking $10 million in matching support from both the State and Federal Governments ($20 million in total).

 Amount

 Funding body

 Status

 $10 million

Baw Baw Shire Council

Funds have been committed

 $10 million  

State Government

Council is advocating for funding commitment

 $10 million

Federal Government

Council is advocating for funding commitment

Mayor Cr Michael Leaney, Councillors and the Executive team are continuously seeking opportunities to meet with key government decision makers to spread awareness and interest in the project.

So far, the Victorian Government has pledged $3.5 million towards the project through its Growing Suburbs Fund, while Council currently has an active $10 million grant application lodged with the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund. We are awaiting the outcome of this funding application.

Project timeline

Oct 2021    

Council endorses the project as a main advocacy priority and pledges $10 million towards the project.

Nov 2021 

Geotechnical investigations and site surveying.

Jan 2022  

$3.5 million funding grant secured from the Victorian Government’s Growing Suburbs Fund.

Mar 2022 

Architect firm Croxon Ramsay appointed to develop detailed designs.

Continued advocacy to both State and Federal Governments for the necessary remaining funding.

Dec 2022   

Detailed designs complete in preparation for construction tender development.

Jun 2023        

Construction procurement process finalised and main construction contract prepared for award.

Jul 2023

Site establishment and commencement of main construction works including construction of the new building and streetscape works.

Early 2025   

Defects liability period and operational proving preparing the building for practical completion.

Mid 2025 

Practical construction complete and handover.

Note: The project timeline is subject to change and securing funding. 

Project history

The development of an integrated Civic Precinct for Baw Baw has long and interesting history. Read below to learn how the project has evolved over the years in response to our Shire's changing needs and priorities.

Over the past 15 years, Council has undertaken a variety master planning work for the Civic Precinct that houses the West Gippsland Art Centre. The different drivers for this work have included:

  • Setting a plan for enhancing the West Gippsland Art Centre,
  • Addressing the separation between the old Council offices located in Warragul, Drouin and Trafalgar, and
  • Wanting to explore opportunities to provide a function centre, community rooms, Council chambers, the library, exhibition space, rehearsal and workshop studios and a plaza/forecourt area.

For a detailed timeline, please see ‘The Journey So Far’ below.

Some of this master planning work resulted in millions of dollars of grant funding to upgrade the site, including the $14M West Gippsland Art Centre upgrade which was majority funded by the state and federal governments.

At present, the Civic Precinct provides:

  • A regional scale performing arts centre that houses a 750 seat theatre and art exhibition space,
  • A gallery restaurant and café,
  • One of Council’s primary customer service centres,
  • The “Fountain Room” 120 person capacity function space with commercial kitchen and bar,
  • A location for Council meetings (held in the Fountain Room fortnightly)
  • A bookable multipurpose meeting room,
  • Some Council office accommodation,
  • Facilities for the Community College Gippsland, Calvary Baptist Church, Warragul Municipal Band, Youth Band training and Off Leash Theatre
  • An expansive public forecourt area,
  • A location for the Warragul Farmers Market and Arts Market,
  • Public toilet facilities and associated amenities,
  • Connectivity to the open space of Civic Park, and
  • Significant on-street and off-street carparking.

Below is an image of the West Gippsland Civic Precinct Masterplan - Current Conditions

Baw Baw Civic Precinct Masterplan Map

In 2019, Council decided to build upon previous master planning work and confirm a direction for the future of the precinct. This direction will help to make sure the proposed future investment into the site of $6 million (subject to some external funding support) over the next 8 years will deliver what Baw Baw’s community want from the Civic Precinct.

The open community consultation process in July-August 2020 directly informed the development of the master plan for the site, clarifying the community’s vision, as well as providing understanding of key potential issues and opportunities.

Other Council strategies and planning work relevant to the site included the 2019 Community Hubs Strategy, the 2017 Warragul Civic Park Masterplan and the Warragul Town Centre Urban Design Framework. These have been considered by Hansen Partnership in developing the master plan.

The journey so far 

2005

  • New building project initiated to prepare expressions of interest for the development of a Master Plan for a Civic Precinct in Civic Place. (This included the requirement for co-location of council officers from Warragul, Drouin and Trafalgar).

2006/07

  • Council Plan 2006-2010 identified the Civic Centre and West Gippsland arts Centre Redevelopment to develop Councils Vibrant Communities Objective.
  • The development of the Civic Precinct Plan as a Key Strategic Action.
  • Tender period for the development of the Civic Precinct Master Plan closed.
  • Mid 2006 actions deferred to explore alternate locations.

 2008/09

  • Regional Development Victoria Grant confirmed to enhance West Gippsland Arts Centre.
  • (New council) Briefing in respect to advancing the project, options included a new structure or renovation of existing. Report identifies consideration for office accommodation. Deferred.

2010/11

  • Civic Precinct formed part of the Warragul Town Centre Urban design framework and Station Precinct Masterplan.
  • The Masterplan identified a strategy to create a series of green space links from the southern recreational reserves to the Civic Park to the North. With the provision of seeking to provide pedestrians with an attractive, safe passage and access to key facilities within the Town Centre.
  • The document also provided community consultation feedback on for the Civic Centre and Precinct uses at that time.

2011/12

  • Baw Baw Shire Officers undertook a master planning exercise to determine the future scope of the West Gippsland Arts Centre and in consideration of the Civic Park/Precinct Master planning interface.

 2012/13

  • During 2012-13, the Council developed and adopted the Council Plan 2013 – 2017. This plan identified objectives relating to delivering:
    • quality community services,
    • quality of life,
    • financial responsibility reducing the asset renewal gap,
    • planning for future community needs,
    • and sustainable use and management of natural resources and the environment.
  • The Plan also identified several Key Strategic Activities associated with the precinct and Council commitment for significant funding to the West Gippsland Arts centre to develop a dynamic, vibrant and inclusive communities and delivering affordable and quality services facilities and infrastructure.

 2013/14

  • The Public Open Space Strategy 2014 identified the preparation of park masterplans for the Shire as a key measure for implementation of the open space strategies. The Strategy contained an action plan to guide the implementation of Warragul Civic Park and form part of the implementation of the open space strategy.

2014/15

  • Council were underway with the development of a master planning project for the staged redevelopment of West Gippsland Civic Precinct site. Developed by William Ross Architects this work also included the initial schematic design for redevelopment of West Gippsland Arts Centre (WGAC) and possible phasing of precinct facilities.
  • Council accepted the reports provided for the redevelopment of the West Gippsland Arts Centre as Phase 1 and the Civic Precinct to be developed as Phase 2.
  • Phase 1 funding strategies utilized:
  • Regional Jobs and infrastructure fund (used for 1st stage of WGAC)
  • National Stronger Regions Fund (used for 1st stage of WGAC)

2015/16

  • Council were briefed on progress of the draft Master Plan development for the Precinct. This work also included the initial schematic designs for the redevelopment of the West Gippsland Arts Centre, inclusive of the following:
    • Refurbishment/redevelopment of the Fountain Room, Civic Foyer and WGAC backstage. (Note: this was originally detailed in the draft masterplan to be included as part of stage 1 works of WGAC redevelopment).
    • Redevelopment of Smith Street Annexe to include Exhibition Space, Rehearsal and Workshop Studios (Stage 2).
    • Extension of the facility to include a Function Centre and repurpose/refurbish Fountain Room into Council Chambers, Council Lounge and community Rooms (Stage 3).
    • Extension of the facility to include Library, Exhibition Space, Rehearsal Space, Studio Theatre and the forecourt area (Stage 4).

2016/17

  • Council adopted the Warragul Civic Park Master Plan to set the strategic direction for the development of the Civic Park.
  • Additionally; the development of the Community Hubs Strategy which included the community’s aspirations for a community hub in the Warragul township. This provided the opportunity for council to explore community hub type services that could interface or be delivered from possible facilities proposed as part of the Civic Precinct redevelopment.

2018/19

  • Funding: Capital Works Program - Councils Future Forward Design Program funding equated to $80,000.
  • Initial briefing to councillors on the proposal to develop the masterplans next phase. Issues associated with the range of different spaces and potential services associated with the site were discussed.
  • The approved outcome was to actively re-engage with the broader community to develop and capture the visions of the community within the masterplan.
  • Workshop to revisit what work had been developed previously relating to Warragul Civic Place Master Plan understanding community changes since the previous master planning workshops and review appropriate relevance.
  • Consultants brief developed with key components to progress the next phase of the master plan.

2019/20-2020/21

  • Hansen Partnership Pty Ltd Urban Planning Consultant appointed to further develop the community’s needs.
  • Scope proposal to re-commence master planning processes including reactivation of community engagement adopted by Council.

Council worked with Hansen Partnership Pty Ltd to develop the masterplan based on initial consultation with the community and key stakeholder groups throughout 2020. Following significant community consultation and feedback, the Baw Baw Civic Precinct Masterplan was adopted by Council in April 2021. Click here to download a copy of the Baw Baw Civic Masterplan.(PDF, 28MB)

Contact Us

We're here to help! If you have any questions or feedback about the Baw Baw Civic Precinct Masterplan please contact our team via email or by calling 1300 229 229.

 

   

Location

Corner of Smith and Albert Streets, Warragul VIC 3820,    View Map

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