MELVILLE Council will discuss the future of the Heathcote Cultural Precinct on February 21, including a confidential business case for the city to regain control of Murray House and a plan to activate the area.
The Department of Training and Workforce Development’s lease is ending, so community consultation was held to create the Heathcote Vision and Place Plan 2025.
The city controls the majority of the buildings at Heathcote and now has the opportunity to take back the lease for Murray House or hand it to another State Government department.
The heritage-listed site was largely leased and managed by Challenger Institute of Technology until April 2015, leaving two buildings – Canning House and Murray House – as the only two buildings outside the city’s direct management.
Part of the activation plan harks back to Heathcote’s history as a mental health institution and looks at it being used as a contemporary wellness centre for the community.
The precinct also has an existing emphasis on the arts and families.
A letter was sent to 1800 residents living in a 1km radius of the precinct during the consultation process, online surveys were conducted and BWG Steakhouse, which has a long term lease at the precinct, was interviewed.
Stakeholders wanted to see shared community experiences including markets and live music, a kiosk, more arts and wellbeing options, new innovation activities, new ways to connect with nature and the history of the site, and the possibility of a children’s festival.
The overall net cost of managing the buildings is expected to drop by about $60,000 per annum if the activation strategy is implemented, based on an 80 per cent occupancy rate.
The next budget would need $100,000 to be added to include suggested improvements including sign upgrades, and new acoustics panels in the kitchen block.