Action is finally being taken to bring life back to Sunbury’s beloved Jacksons Hill.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Sunbury MP Josh Bull last week announced the state government would buy the site.
“There’s a long history here, but the future of this site must belong to the local community,” Mr Andrews said.
“And ownership by the government guarantees that.”
Mr Andrews said the state would take over the site and work with the community to restore and repurpose its various sectors.
“There’s more conversation to be had about other uses, repurposing, getting the balance right within this unique precinct,” he said.
Three million dollars was allocated in the recent state budget for a new community arts and creative industries precinct at Jacksons Hill, and $10.8 million to repurpose some of the buildings for the Sunbury and Macedon Ranges Specialist School to expand.
Other plans for the site will be detailed in the release of a master plan in the coming months.
A draft plan, released on November 30, was met with criticism from the community and Hume council.
Residents slammed the proposal for space in the site’s east and west to be used for housing.
Hume council also released scathing feedback on the draft plan in February, emphasising that the proposal for a new secondary school at Jacksons Hill was “conflicting with the key themes from the community engagement sessions”.
Mr Bull last week told Star Weekly: “It’s unrealistic to expect that there won’t be any housing on the entire site – especially the open space”.
He also indicated that the state government would likely go ahead with plans for a future school.
Road networks and parking would also be improved.
“A secondary school will be something we’re certainly going to consider,” Mr Bull said.
“But what I think is most important is that we are able to repurpose the majority of these buildings … and to be able to hand them back to people like the Sunbury art network.”
Boilerhouse Theatre Company president Jess Ryan said she was “very excited” to hear that the group would be able to return to Jacksons Hill.
The company has been unable to use the Boilerhouse Theatre for almost a year because of safety risks.
There have been community concerns about the condition of the heritage buildings at Jacksons Hill since Victoria University stopped using the site as a university campus in 2009.
The mostly vacant and boarded-up buildings have been deteriorating, and repeatedly vandalised.
Hume councillor Jack Medcraft said he was happy the site was finally being sorted out, but was interested to find out details of how the buildings would be restored and maintained.