By Derek Schlennstedt
Yarra Ranges councillors have voted to delay the demolition of the former Montrose Maternal Child Health Centre.
At the Yarra Ranges Council meeting on 14 August, councillor Tim Heenan spoke about his hesitation to ‘write-off’ the building.
The demolition has already been delayed by several months, after councillors deferred the decision in November 2017 to undertake a feasibility study into whether the site could be used by Mount Evelyn social enterprise Tasty Az.
Since then Tasty Az has found a new location and rather than demolish the building Councillor Heenan has requested that another six months be made available to find a suitor.
“I have an adverse objection to how we are going to take buildings down, demolish buildings or get rid of land – anything that’s a council asset without having due consideration for the possible future,” he said.
“It shouldn’t be that when a facility is finished in its present use that we need to have it demolished or sold.”
“I’m sure if we dig much deeper we might find a use for this.”
In the Council report it is proposed that the property be retained and the existing building be demolished to provide the town centre with a larger open space.
One of the suggestions is to use this space as car park for the users of the Montrose Town Centre Facilities.
Councillor Jim Child rebutted Councillor Heenan’s alternate recommendation and believed there was little interest from community groups in utilising the space.
“We’ve gone through a considerable exercise with this building,” Councillor Child said.
“Councillor Cliff raised the issue months ago and that didn’t come to fruition, and I believe if we had people waiting in the wings they’d be coming forward.”
“I think we as councillors get a feel for what’s happening on the ground and we’d know if someone was waiting there to take up this building … it’s just the next step in finalising the development of that site.”
Mayor Len Cox was quick to mention that the Montrose Men’s Shed had raised interest in using the site and that if removed, there would be no available public amenities in Montrose.
“There is Montrose Men’s Shed who have been looking for somewhere else to operate,” he said.
“A group of them are interested in steel work and asked me a few weeks ago whether they could use this building.
“It’s possibly worth just giving them a chance.”
According to the council report, no formal consultation has been undertaken in relation to the redevelopment of the Maternal Centre site, apart from what was originally mentioned in the feasibility study of the Montrose Town Centre redevelopment.
Councillors Heenan, Avery, Clarke, McAllister and Cox moved to conduct a review of public interest in the site and to delay the demolition for another six months.