New details revealed on design of proposed Woolworths Castlemaine

22 March 2022

The team behind the proposed development of the new Woolworths on Forest Street, Castlemaine has revealed further details on the project’s design as it prepares for a VCAT hearing this month.

The plans by renowned architects Clarke Hopkins Clarke propose to convert the former gas works site – currently an eyesore – to a state-of-the-art retail facility, featuring considered landscaping and bespoke artworks.

Once complete, the project will create numerous full time, part time and casual jobs, the vast majority of which will be locally filled. A further 100 jobs will be created during the construction phase.

The latest renders of the proposed design show the heavily landscaped interface of the property at the entry of town.

The original plans for the Centre were knocked back by Mount Alexander Shire Council in August last year. Major sticking points highlighted by councillors included failure to factor in traffic treatment design to adequately ensure community safety, as well as location, scale, and the proposed usurping of a leafy public roadside reserve to meet the development’s carparking needs. Whilst a Council Officer’s report was complimentary of the project’s design, noting the exposed steel framing with metal, timber and recycled brick infill reflects the industrial and residential character of the area, and commenting on the facade’s “neat and rhythmic form”, it was not sufficient to satisfy Council.

Developer, Lascorp, firmly believes the project is essential to local residents, especially given Castlemaine is the only town of its size in Victoria not to be serviced by a major full-line supermarket.

Economic studies conducted as part of the planning process revealed a strong propensity for escape expenditure, with Castlemaine locals leaving town to purchase their groceries in Bendigo and Maryborough. Evidence suggests that these shoppers are also inclined to visit nearby speciality retailers, resulting in further loss to Castlemaine businesses.

Lascorp has now included a number of environmentally sustainable design elements within the project including electric car charging stations, extensive solar panels and total water management.

The developer will be treating stormwater run-off – which would ordinarily be lost – providing 6-8 Olympic sized swimming pools worth of treated clean water per year for community parks and ovals.

The plans also allow for bicycle tracks, new pedestrian crossing and improved road safety for school students with the addition of a signalised intersection – an initiative which has been welcomed by much of the community.

On the proposed development, a Woolworths spokesperson stated “ We’re delighted to have been presented the opportunity to join the Castlemaine community.

“ Once completed our full-line supermarket will generate a number of full time, part time and casual jobs for the local community.

“ We look forward to the opportunity to deliver local residents an essential and convenient shopping experience in what would be one of Australia’s most state of the art supermarkets.”

A VCAT hearing for the project is scheduled to commence shortly.