Shire trims its office plan

INDIGO Council has scrapped plans to extend its Beechworth offices and will also scale down a $2.8 million upgrade for the Yackandandah offices.

Mayor Barb Murdoch yesterday said she hoped the change of heart on the two projects — decided by a 4-2 vote at Rutherglen on Tuesday — would be met with community approval.

A $1 million Beechworth plan to build on to the modern council offices behind the memorial hall had divided the town since the former council approved it.

Objectors delayed the go-ahead by appealing to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which still hasn’t considered whether to endorse the council planning permit.

But this week’s decision means the permit will be withdrawn and the council will go ahead with merely refurbishing the existing offices and the town hall next door.

“We can do that without a permit,” Cr Murdoch said.

Beechworth Traditional Homes was awarded the $1 million Beechworth contract in September but it was subject to VCAT approval.

Cr Murdoch said chief executive Brendan McGrath had now been asked to negotiate with the builder to carry out the refurbishment.

She said the work would respect the heritage value of the town hall and meet work safety requirements.

For Yackandandah, the council has asked officers to consider excluding historic Ardsville and/or a Wellsford Street cottage from the design and selling those buildings.

The main work of extending the Yackandandah office will proceed using master builder Browns, of Wangaratta. It won a $2.8 million contract in September, subject to VCAT’s nod.

Cr Murdoch said she hoped the Yackandandah objector would now withdraw his VCAT objection, allowing the council to proceed.

Indigo Council has debating options for its office headquarters since 2008.

Cr Bernard Gaffney was an apology at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Barb Murdoch.

Barb Murdoch.