By Oliver Lees
An upgrade to the Woodend Community Centre is one step closer, following the endorsement of a master plan for the project.
At a Macedon Ranges council meeting last week, councillors voted to endorse the plan, which had included changes following a process of stakeholder and community consultation.
Mayor Jennifer Anderson said this was positive progress but there is still work to be done.
“I’d like to thank our staff, this has been a long running project,” Cr Anderson said.
“It has been a very dedicated community and various forms of council to get it to this stage.
“It has the essential input as to what the site is going to be at this stage… There is still work to be done… and we look forward to working with the community on future developments with this project.”
Located on High Street in Woodend, the Woodend Community Centre was originally developed to provide a space for residents following the devastation of the Ash Wednesday bushfires.
According to Cr Anderson, discussions about an upgrade to the facility began in 2009, before the Woodend Culture and Community Centre Group started to advocate from 2016 onwards.
The master plan document outlines the need for a redevelopment, stating: “Existing facilities on the site are poorly utilised due to the facilities not being built for purpose and a lack of accessibility of the spaces to suit needs.
“There is significant opportunity for the master plan to deliver a contemporary facility in line with the community’s current and future needs.”
The master plan includes an updated library with a visitor information hub, an indoor performance space, a cafe, a village green and an outdoor entertainment space.
Macedon Ranges Residents Association secretary Christine Pruneau said it was important that residents could feel a sense of ownership over the space.
“As a community space, there needs to be a very strong aspect that this is here for the community to use and have access to, that means less capital interest” Ms Pruneau said.
“If they’ve done that there will be a positive community reaction.”
The master plan was based on the state government’s 20-minute neighbourhood report, which outlines a desire to create liveable spaces where people can access most of their daily needs without needing a car.
An analysis of the ‘Have Your Say’ feedback data for the project identifies that 72 per cent of respondents found a library and community space to be ‘very important’.
A farmers’ market and outdoor spaces were also deemed ‘very important’ aspects of the new community centre by more than 50 per cent of respondents.
Community and stakeholder consultation will continue at the next stage of the design process, which will define components and sight layout.