AN $8.25 million government office complex will be built in Warrnambool on the Raglan Parade site now occupied by Beaurepaires Tyres.
It will house staff and equipment from the Department of Primary Industries, Parks Victoria and Department of Sustainability and Environment as a services hub for the south-west.
Construction work is expected to start early next year and be completed in less than 12 months.
The existing 45 local employees of the three departments will then transfer to the new premises which will have capacity for 65 staff, potentially allowing other departments to be also located there.
Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh and Regional Cities Minister and South West Coast MP Denis Napthine yesterday announced the site had been purchased for the office project.
It ends about two years of conjecture since the scrapping of an earlier proposal to move into the old Timor Street post office building bought by the city council in late 2010.
Staff in the three departments work from a smaller set of offices in Henna Street built in the 1970s, plus three depots on other sites.
“The money’s already been allocated in the state budget,” Dr Napthine said.
“It’s been a challenging job looking for the right place in the right location. We had looked at sites extending from Deakin University to the saleyards and the CBD.
“This will be a terrific shopfront for the three departments and a great presence for the government in Warrnambool. We want to provide professional officers with offices befitting their status and more visible access for south-west Victoria.”
Beaurepaires will look for another location in Warrnambool after being on the Raglan Parade site for more than 40 years.
Company spokesman David Lovatt told The Standard the company had been a tenant on the land and was keen to continue its long association with the south-west city.
Dr Napthine said the project would reinforce Warrnambool’s role in the region.
“There’s no doubt Warrnambool is a key centre in the south-west and a great service centre for one of the strongest farming producing areas in the state,” he said.
“While dairying is having some challenges the Coalition government sees a long-term bright future.
“And parks is an important part of the offices here with enormous tourism based on our parks.
“As well, there is DSE, whether fishing, sustainability issues or management of our marine resources and our water catchments.”
DPI principal dairy scientist Dr Joe Jacobs said there were plans to have a laboratory in the new complex rather than rudimentary services as in the existing offices.