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New lease on life for former college

Dignitaries at the signing of the Etty Street campus lease.

Thursday 21 November 2019

Workspace Australia Ltd and the Castlemaine Hot Rod Centre have signed a lease with Mount Alexander Shire Council to pave the way for an innovative training and education campus and business hub at the former Castlemaine Secondary College campus on Etty Street.

The new tenants will each take on a separate 15 year lease at the site as part of an agreement to develop a training and education centre for the local hot rod industry, a small business incubation space for Workspace and a space for community groups.

Under the arrangement, students and teachers at Castlemaine Secondary College will continue to use part of the campus, and space will be set aside for community use.

Council has leased the space from the Minister for Education under a peppercorn arrangement for 15 years, following discussions on shared plans for the site over many years.

Discussions have included representatives from Castlemaine Secondary School, Workspace Australia, Castlemaine Hot Rod Centre Ltd, U3A, Castlemaine Theatre Company Inc., Council and the State Government, with strong support from State Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards.

“This collaborative effort will see the former secondary college site repurposed into a collaborative community hub with office space and programs for small businesses and start-ups, and innovative training facilities for the hot rod industry, while continuing educational programs at the site,” said Acting CEO Phil Josipovic, Mount Alexander Shire Council.

“I congratulate everyone who has been involved in this arrangement. It has taken considerable hard work and good will to deliver on this excellent outcome, and goes to show what can be achieved when there is great collaboration,” said Maree Edwards MP, State Member for Bendigo West.

Workspace Australia and Castlemaine Hot Rod Centre will each make substantial investments to fit out the facilities.

Workspace Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that provides support to local job-seekers and small businesses in the Mount Alexander Shire region. It currently leases the old hospital site on Halford Street in Castlemaine where it supports start-up businesses.

“This long term lease will enable Workspace to maintain the services we provide to support to 50 or 100 small businesses at any one time, well into the future,” said Jim Norris, Major Projects Director, Workspace Australia.

“We are looking forward to creating new employment opportunities through small business development in Mount Alexander Shire, and bringing new opportunities for training and practical work experience in partnership with Castlemaine Secondary College, the Hot Rod Centre and the community.”

“This is a great example of how the State Government through local members such as Maree Edwards, community groups and not for profit organisations can work together to ensure local assets continue to be of vital importance to the community after having served their original purpose,” he said.

Castlemaine Hot Rod Centre Ltd and partners plan to establish a life-long community education and industry innovation campus based around the local automotive culture.

“This is a milestone achievement for Castlemaine Hot Rod Centre Limited (CHRC). Our not for profit enterprise has been working toward this day since the concept was first floated in 2004,” said Larry O’Toole, Chairman, Castlemaine Hot Rod Centre Ltd.

“Dedicated work by our members and board, our local State Member Maree Edwards MP, Councillors and CEO Darren Fuzzard at Mount Alexander Shire Council, and Castlemaine Secondary College School Council and Principal Paul Frye has come together in a truly remarkable way.

“Along with Workspace Australia we have plans for this site to become a unique resource centre that will have ongoing benefits for our whole community. I urge everyone to take an interest in Autoplex Castlemaine, as the Castlemaine Hot Rod Centre’s portion of the site will be known,” said Mr O’Toole.

“We consider it a great honour to have been trusted with such a valuable asset and look forward to repurposing it to a vibrant, exciting place where visitors can come to participate in specialised training programs, visit the Australian Hot Rod Heritage Interactive Centre and take advantage of the community meeting facilities that we will be making available.

“Thank you to everyone who has supported us on this journey. We look forward to an exciting future,” he said.

Castlemaine Secondary College School Principal Paul Frye said the school is excited the former facilities have been handed over to strong community based organisation.

“As we continue to run programs from part of the Etty Street site, we now look forward to developing educational and vocational opportunities for our students in partnership with some of the new tenants,” said Mr Frye.

Image: Workspace Australia and Castlemaine Hot Rod Centre have signed a lease that will breathe new life into the former Castlemaine Secondary College campus in Etty Street Castlemaine. Back row (L-R): Cr Christine Henderson, Mayor of Mount Alexander Shire; Maree Edwards, State Member for Bendigo West; Phil Josipovic, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mount Alexander Shire Council; and Paul Frye, Principal, Castlemaine Secondary College. Front row: Jim Norris, Director Major Projects, Workspace Australia; and Larry O’Toole, Chairman, Castlemaine Hot Rod Centre Ltd.

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