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Consultation on The Rex sale                                         ‘not a backflip’

May 11th, 2022Consultation on The Rex sale ‘not a backflip’

HEPBURN Shire Council says it has not done a backflip on the sale of The Rex building in Vincent Street, Daylesford, despite now saying it will decide whether to proceed with the sale of the building, or not, at its June or July meeting.

HEPBURN Shire Council says it has not done a backflip on the sale of The Rex building in Vincent Street, Daylesford, despite now saying it will decide whether to proceed with the sale of the building, or not, at its June or July meeting.

On April 7 this year, Mayor Cr Tim Drylie told The Local that, in accordance with the Local Government Act, the November 2021 motion to cease the Hepburn Hub project and sell The Rex building could not be rescinded “as officers have commenced actioning it”.
Yet the council on April 27 issued a media release with Cr Drylie saying the council now will “consider community views before ultimately deciding to proceed or not with the sale”.
“While at this point, we don’t see a clear purpose for retaining The Rex, given the lack of finances to undertake any works at the site, if there is strong community support for using The Rex for a worthwhile and suitable purpose, we may be open to exploring alternate ideas, but they would need to be assessed for financial viability and on a range of other factors,” Cr Drylie said.
“It is important to note that council will not revive the Hepburn Hub at The Rex project as it is outside the scope of what we can consider now. We understand the disappointment that many people in the community will be feeling now that we are beginning the sale process for The Rex. However, it is important that we focus our energies on the next steps which is in part to undertake a planning project that will review possible solutions of staffing accommodation and community facilities that were to be included in the Hepburn Hub.”
The following day, April 28, Cr Drylie said there was no backflip happening.
“The engagement launched yesterday refers to community engagement in relation to the sale. The November motion of council cannot be rescinded because it has been enacted on in accordance with the Local Government Act. The motion ceased the Hepburn Hub project (council offices, library, cinema and co-working space).
“Council in November asked the CEO to undertake a process to sell the asset (The Rex building), and as part of this process community consultation on the sale needs to occur.
“This is not a backflip on any previous decision, but a requirement of the Local Government Act to undertake community engagement given the proposed sale.
“Council will consider, following the community consultation, whether to proceed with the sale of the building or not at the June or July meeting. If council decided not to proceed with the sale, it would need to determine a future use of the building, noting it will not be the Hepburn Hub.”
The council wants individuals and community groups to complete a short survey regarding the intended sale of The Rex building but is not seeking detailed submissions or business cases.
More information on the survey and the discussion paper are available on the council’s Participate Hepburn website. Submissions are open until Friday, May 20.

History
The council purchased The Rex building in 2016 to accommodate a new library, council offices, public toilets, community auditorium and community co-working space, known as the Hepburn Hub project.
The building, a former theatre, had most recently been a bargain shop and then shopping mall before it was bought for $6.345 million. The project stalled in June 2018 after it was realised the renovation cost would be more than $1 million, creating a need for a planning permit. More recently it was found that some of the building works had not been done to building codes and had to be dumped.
On top of the purchase price, the council has spent another $3 million on the building and would have needed another $6 million to finish the Hub.
The building site has two large murals by artist David Bromley, both commissioned by the former council and not run past the council’s Public Art Panel.
When the council bought The Rex in 2016, former Hepburn Shire Council CEO Aaron van Egmond said community support for the project was overwhelming.

Words & image: Donna Kelly



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