By JOHN VAN KLAVEREN
CITY Hall could swap its busport facility for Deakin University’s waterfront car park to build a Geelong convention centre, according to a new State Government minister.
Lisa Neville, Labor’s Member for Bellarine, said the convention centre could become a reality only on the Deakin car park.
“That’s the site and it can’t be successful unless it is,” Ms Neville told the Independent.
“It is time to undertake some serious negotiations with Deakin.
“Of course, busport is owned by the council, so it would need to be involved in those negotiations.”
Ms Neville said a Labor election commitment to establish a central Geelong planning authority would be part of a renewed push to develop the long-awaited convention centre.
“I see an opportunity for the Geelong planning authority to work with the community and council on upgrading the central businesses district and the convention centre.
“There’s a role for the authority to drive those sorts of projects, like Jeff Kennett did for the waterfront.
“The idea behind it is to centralise planning controls. It has to be driven and implemented through a centralised planning process because council is not best placed do it.
“Things are moving at snail’s pace with no way forward.
Ms Neville said the new planning authority would “sit above council”.
“We have to move more quickly and you need higher level powers to do it.”
Ms Neville, Minister for Evironment, Climate Change and Water, and said the new authority would integrate with the government’s planning and local government ministries.
Member for Lara and Sport Minister John Eren said the planning authority would also ensure a “proper” business case and feasibility study for the convention centre proposal.
“I don’t believe a proper one has been done,” he said.
“We have to make sure it stacks up, especially in regard to location.”
Mr Eren said the fact council was “not up to” the planning requirements for the convention centre had come through “loud and clear”.