Historic restoration just first step

Councillors Eddy Kontelj and Anthony Aitken with Osborne Park Association president Cheryl Scott at the renovated stables prior to Geelong’s most recent lockdown. (Supplied)

By Luke Voogt

A more than $500,000 renovation of the 168-year-old Osborne House is now complete, marking the first step of a planned major redevelopment, according to council.

Council yesterday announced workers had finished restoration works at the historic North Geelong building and stables including stabilising walls, façade repairs, painting, and upgrading the car park drainage.

They also repaired or replaced 40 windows and more than 40 French doors throughout the main bluestone building.

A new fire detection system featuring 23 detectors is now monitored off-site and linked with a security system.

“Osborne House and the stables have significant heritage value and sit in an important location on the North Geelong waterfront,” said councillor Eddy Kontelj, who chairs council’s restoration of the building.

“The works have made an improvement to the way the buildings look, and also ensured they can be safely accessed and enjoyed by the community once the future use of the site is decided.

“While these initial works are encouraging and were necessary, there is still much work to do.”

Council has allocated another $8 million for restoration over the next four years, according to finance portfolio chair Anthony Aitken.

“The works completed so far are the first step in what we hope will be an exciting journey towards opening this important site back up for the community and celebrating its heritage value,” Cr Aitken said.

Council has estimated the total cost of redeveloping Osborne House will be at least $21 million.

In May council called for expressions of interest for partners to help redevelop the site.

“The expressions of interest process has unearthed some promising ideas, which we are working through with the potential partners,” Cr Aitken said.

Council has pledged to keep Osborne House in public hands and prioritise its heritage values, while restoring and “transforming” the precinct for a mix of community, public and commercial use.