Winchelsea community input to shape mud hut shelter future

Mud hut pic.JPG

Local representatives will help improve the design of the Winchelsea mud hut shelter replacement, before a proposal for the wider community to provide input on a preferred option.

Surf Coast Shire Council resolved at its February 2023 meeting for community members to be part of a new group that will develop options on improvements to the proposed design for the shelter. Options will be considered at the April 2023 Council meeting.

Councillor Heather Wellington thanked Winchelsea locals for their passion for this project, highlighted by a 137-signature petition. The petition – received by Council in December 2022 – stated the initial proposed mud hut shelter design did not reflect community aspirations, and requested improvements be made.

“We’ve heard the community loud and clear. I look forward to seeing community representatives work with officers to explore elements that will improve the proposed design including materials, cladding, colours and landscaping,” Cr Wellington said.

“I know there has been a recent suggestion to retain and repair the mud hut rather than demolish it; and there has been another suggestion to build a replica of the original structure. The feasibility of these options is also being considered and will be presented to Council at our April meeting.”

Pending Council’s decision at the April meeting, community members will be invited to provide input on their preferred option.

Cr Wellington was pleased to see more community involvement in the project, including representatives being part of the new group to improve the design.

“This is a welcome additional step in the project, which has had setbacks along the way including COVID-19 interruptions, contractor unavailability, and the project recently being put on hold due to microbats breeding in the shelter. This required a zoologist assessment which included a recommendation on how to manage microbats during the construction stage.”

The mud hut shelter was due for renewal in 2019-20, and was combined with the Barwon River Adventure Play Space project as it sits in the same precinct. The project was delayed at various stages which created longer than anticipated gaps between original consultation, feedback and the final concept design.

“When we received the petition, it was acknowledged that the communication and engagement process for this project was unsuccessful,” Cr Wellington said. “It is vital that Council understands community views through meaningful engagement. Council hopes that a community consensus can be achieved through the engagement process.”

The proposed mud hut shelter renewal was due for installation in mid-January 2023. It is already under contract. Following a procurement process, a roof structure has been pre-fabricated and cannot be changed as Council would need to cancel the contract. This will be taken into consideration by the community representatives and officers as they explore improvement options.

The project is currently jointly funded by Council ($135,000) and the Federal Government ($50,000) through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program. A time extension request to the Federal Government is needed.

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