A last-ditch plan to save a piece of railway history has failed after Warrnambool City Council approved a plan to raze the disused goods shed.
The decision paves the way for a $1 million upgrade of the railway station precinct which includes 144 new free car parking spaces.
Despite receiving three objections to the demolition application, the council decided to approve the plan without sending it to an open council meeting. Demolition works are expected to start within weeks.
Objector Lindsay Bamford said he was disappointed that the council decided not to have any community consultation.
In April Mr Bamford called for the decision be delayed 60 days so other uses could be considered.
He said there would still be room for 140 car parks if the shed was restored and put to good use such as a community hall, museum, cafe or art gallery.
City growth director Andrew Paton said that while it was originally envisaged the issue could go to a council meeting for a decision, it did not receive the five objections which would have triggered the need for the application to be debated at a council meeting.
“This was a difficult decision to make,” Mr Paton said
“The concerns from the three objectors raised issues around heritage, public consultation and re-use opportunities.
“The planning team considered each of these issues and council was briefed on the proposal on three occasions including a meeting with the owners of the site, VicTrack.”
Mr Paton said it was decided that the removal of the goods shed was the best way forward to secure the “significant state government investment for the precinct”.
He said a VicTrack building condition assessment, as well as an independent review, found the goods shed was in poor structural condition.
“The shed is a rebuilt version of an earlier goods shed which burnt down. It was modified over the years with the addition of asbestos roofing and iron walls which cover the northern platform of the shed,” Mr Paton said.
A VicTrack community information session was held in July last year to brief the community on the upgrade proposals and to take on feedback.
“VicTrack, as the owner of the shed, has not provided council with any proposals nor investors for an alternative use of the building,” Mr Paton said.
Any useable timber from the goods shed will be retained and incorporated, where possible, into the new work at the station.
Warrnambool mayor Robert Anderson said he was pleased that the emphasis from VicTrack was about ensuring the precinct met the requirements of a 21st century transport hub.
“This was a tough call but the correct one,” Cr Anderson said.
“The retention of the goods shed, disused for many years and riddled with asbestos, could really limit VicTrack’s capacity to make a fully functional transport interchange.
“Importantly the proposal from VicTrack also considers improvements to access and pedestrian safety.”