The City of Greater Bendigo is investigating the future ownership and potential redevelopment of the two-storey car park between Myers Street and Lyttleton Terrace known as the ‘Coles car park’.
The City of Greater Bendigo owns the car park which is leased to the privately-owned Lyttleton Terrace Shopping Centre. The centre accommodates a supermarket and a range of shops, including a fruit and veg store, lolly shop, an op-shop, a baker, butcher, and bottle shop.
This is a high profile and centrally located site with multiple street frontages. There are mixed views within the community about how this site currently works within the city centre and opportunities for it to be enhanced.
Strategic redevelopment site
This site was shown as a ‘strategic redevelopment site’ in the Bendigo City Centre Plan which was adopted by Council last year. Council does not own the entire site. It does own part of the site - the car park. Councillors are investigating the options to retain or sell this specific site as the City would not be able to take on the responsibility of developing the site in the future. Councillors are keen to understand a broad range of community views as the first step in this process.
At present, the car park has a net cost to ratepayers of around $50,000 per year which pays for general maintenance and repairs, cleaning, and security at the site (this is in addition to any lease income received).
This subsidy benefits those that park for free in the car park but is paid for by all ratepayers. If the car park was in private ownership, the landowner would contribute income through rates each year and manage the car park.
Car park site in the future
No matter who owns the car park site in the future, it is likely that there will always be a good supply of car parking as it is needed to support a large supermarket. Any changes to car parking in the future need the agreement of the City, Coles, and the owner of the shopping centre.
The community's views will form an important part of the Council’s deliberations when it is time to consider if this site should be retained or sold at some stage in the future. No decisions have been made at this stage and this four-week public engagement starts the early investigations concerning the role of the site now and in the future.
New Local Government requirements
The Local Government Act 2020 outlines the procedure for all Local Governments to follow if they are considering the future disposal of an asset. This ensures an open and transparent process and ensures that the community is broadly informed about the site and can contribute to early discussions.
Community early engagement begins
A detailed frequently asked questions (FAQs) has been prepared to provide more information about the site. Community members are encouraged to read the FAQs first before completing the short survey to gain a broader understanding of the site, costs to ratepayers and options available in the future. You are then asked to complete a short survey as the first step in the engagement process. Businesses are also be invited to complete the same survey.
Once the early engagement process is completed, the outcomes will be reported to Council prior to any further action being taken. This investigation will allow Councillors to better understand the site, its use now, and its future potential. A decision on whether to retain or sell the site is still some time off and will not be considered until after the community engagement process is completed and reported to Council.
Existing car park and concept impression
Once the early engagement process is completed, the outcomes will be reported to Council prior to any further action being taken. This investigation will allow Councillors to have a better understanding of the site, its use now and its future potential. That means a decision to retain or dispose of the site will not be considered until after the community engagement process is completed and reported to Council.
This site was shown as a ‘strategic redevelopment site’ in the Bendigo City Centre Plan which was adopted by Council last year. The purpose of the plan is to provide a clear direction for the future growth of the city centre as a pre-eminent regional hub, servicing the needs of a growing central Victoria community. Councillors believe now is the right time to investigate whether to retain or sell the asset, as the City would not take on the responsibility of developing the site in the future.
The car park was developed in the early 1980s as part of a plan to get a large supermarket established in the city centre. While the car park is owned by the City, it is leased to the privately owned Lyttleton Terrace Shopping Centre. The shopping centre contains a supermarket and shops, including a fruit and veg store, lolly shop, an op-shop, a baker, butcher, and bottle shop.
The upper deck of the car park was built in the mid-1990s. In exchange for Coles and the shopping centre owner contributing to the cost of the upper deck, an agreement was made that required free short-term parking to be made available to their customers. Any changes to time limits or fees need the agreement of all three parties.
It is unusual for parking for a private shopping centre to be provided by ratepayers. Shopping centres and supermarkets are required to provide their own customer parking.
At present the car park has a net cost to ratepayers of around $50,000 per year which pays for general maintenance and repairs, cleaning, and security at the site (this is in addition to any lease income received). The lease does not cover the cost of maintaining the car park and the lease conditions do not allow the lease payment to be increased to cover these costs.
This subsidy benefits those that park for free but is paid for by all ratepayers. If the car park was in private ownership, the landowner would contribute income through rates each year and manage the car park.
Any changes to parking fees and time limits require the agreement of all three parties involved, which is unlikely to be achieved under the current agreement.
As this is only the beginning of the process, we have prepared a hypothetical scenario to illustrate how the site could be developed in the future. This is similar to what is taking place in many parts of Melbourne; however it is just a hypothetical scenario at this stage.
If the site is sold, a redevelopment would likely include new commercial floorspace and residential apartments. A supermarket is often incorporated in the middle of the building with smaller specialty shops and businesses along the street edges. Many have apartments built on top of them, with the parking available either above or below the retail floors and connected by a travelator. Developments of this type can deliver the best of everything – a supermarket, specialty shops, parking, and a much nicer streetscape to draw people to the Lyttleton Terrace precinct to spend longer eating, drinking, and shopping.
The ‘before and after’ artist’s impression provide an example of what could potentially be accommodated on the site. It is a hypothetical concept only, and it is expected that it would be some time before a redevelopment of this scale took place.
For Council to consider selling the property, there would need to be some clear community benefits resulting from the sale. These could include an upgraded supermarket with customer parking, wider footpaths with outdoor dining, large shady trees, more commercial floorspace and new inner city living. It might also include the opportunity to create a new pedestrian link between Lyttleton Terrace and Myers Street, ideally aligned with the St Paul’s Cathedral.
This would provide this important cultural and heritage building with an improved ‘street presence’ (currently it faces a car park wall) and make the precinct easier to move around in on foot. In Lyttleton Terrace, it might also be able to get shops on both sides of the road, rather than one just one side with the car park on the other. Public toilets might also be able to be incorporated into the new development, rather than being a stand-alone facility. A redevelopment of this scale would not be possible if the property remained in City ownership. Again, these are scenarios at this stage of the engagement process.
In circumstances such as this one, it is expected that the revenue would be used to improve the immediate precinct.
This engagement is still at an early stage and is limited to informing Council on whether the City should retain or sell the site. Should it be sold and redevelopment plans prepared, they would need to go through the normal planning approval process. Regardless, the City will be contacting businesses directly in the precinct to encourage them to get involved and let us know their thoughts. The City will keep the community and businesses informed about any important milestones in this process.
At this stage we are only seeking community views about the site. A decision on whether to retain or sell the site is still some time off and will not be considered until after the community engagement process is completed and reported to Council.
Regardless of who owns the car park in the future, it is likely that there will always be a good supply of car parking, as it is needed to support a large supermarket. Any changes to car parking need the agreement of the City, Coles, and the owner of the shopping centre.
Our parking system is designed to encourage short term parking (up to two hours) in areas where a high turnover of customer parking is required to support economic activity, such as in the central parts of Bendigo and other commercial precincts. For longer stays, people are encouraged to use our paid multi-deck and off-street car parks.
Please let us know your thoughts on the possible sale or retention of the 'Coles car park' by completing a brief survey. You can also provide comments. This engagement will be open for four weeks and close on Wednesday, October 13.