Building a new art gallery on the current site has not been ruled out, with Warrnambool City Council hinting this week its focus could turn back to the Liebig Street location.
While councillors voted to carry out a business case for the Cannon Hill site - something that has sparked opposition within the community - the council left the door open for a reimagined art gallery at the current CBD location during its ordinary meeting on Monday.
In response to a public question, acting chief executive officer David Leahy said the current site hadn't been ruled out as an option for a new regional art gallery.
He said if the council decided to further investigate the site as the new home for a bigger gallery then new concept designs would be done.
Warrnambool Ratepayers Association president Joan Kelson asked the meeting if prior to voting on the location for the business case for the new art gallery the council had considered reinventing the current location with better use of the existing space including the use of floating walls
She also asked whether the council had considered extending the existing gallery by linking it to the old library site.
Mr Leahy said the current site on Liebig Street had been considered as a potential site for a new gallery through a feasibility study conducted in 2021.
"It considered a reimagined design that included more exhibition space, improved back of house, storage and loading functionality and the floor plan of the existing site was increased so that it could accommodate travelling exhibitions," he said.
"The existing site hasn't been removed from council's options as a site for the new regional art gallery.
"And should council decide to further investigate this site, new concept designs will be developed and an extensive community engagement process will be undertaken also."
Mr Leahy said if the council did decide to proceed with a new gallery on the existing site, it would consider "activation of the cultural precinct as a whole".
"This could include the lighthouse theatre and learning and library centre," he said.
Mr Leahy also said the prospect of linking the existing gallery to the old library site had been explored during the feasibility study.
"... But due to the limited floor plan size - the old library being only 650-square-metres - this option wasn't progressed," he said at the monthly council meeting.
Mrs Kelson said at the last Warrnambool Ratepayers Association meeting, members raised concerns the current art gallery space wasn't used well and the site could be renovated.
She said it was suggested a "walk over" between the current art gallery and old library site could be an option.
The old library was vacated last year when it moved to the new $20 million new learning and library hub which is located on the neighbouring South West TAFE site.
In August, councillors voted 4-3 in favor of carrying out an art gallery business case for the Cannon Hill site despite officers recommending it be carried out for the current site at the city's Civic Green instead.
A petition opposing an art gallery at Cannon Hill attracted about 5000 signatures.
Opponents have also created bumper stickers, corflutes and T-shirts which have been handed out which declare 'Hands off Cannon Hill'.
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