MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire would have to spend $56.5 million to build new headquarters in Rosebud or $51.7 million at Mornington.
The shire bought Rosebud Central shopping centre on Wannaeue Place in 2012 as a possible site for Southern Peninsula Aquatic Centre (SPA) and is now looking at housing all shire staff there.
Employees would be moved from the shire’s three existing offices in Besgrove St, Rosebud; Queen St, Mornington; and Marine Parade, Hastings.
Councillors were briefed about the radical change to shire office arrangements on Monday last week.
They have been offered six options ranging from retaining the three offices – which would include spending almost $10 million on upgrades to all three buildings – to building a “Taj Mahal” option in Rosebud.
The report favours the status quo, questioning any long-term value in a move to Wannaeue Place and providing figures to back the argument that retaining and revamping Besgrove St was the best option.
The shire has three offices because of the amalgamation of the former shires of Flinders, Mornington and Hastings.
The shire paid more than $8 million for Rosebud Central and adjoining properties in Ninth Ave. Lead tenant at the shopping centre is a supermarket plus a few speciality shops. Its current market value is estimated at about $4.6 million.
SPA was voted off the foreshore last September, largely because it was a non-foreshore dependent facility and contravened state government policy.
Councillors directed that plans be drawn up for reinvigorating Rosebud Activity Centre, including the new shire HQ along with mixed use commercial, retail and residential development, possibly incorporating federal and state government services. It was also to accommodate SPA.
A new venue to replace Rosebud Memorial Hall was also included, “equivalent to or better than” the hall, which would also be removed from the foreshore as it was “non-coastal dependent”.
The aim is to develop the new precinct over several decades.
The six options are:
- Option 1: The status quo: retain the three offices at Rosebud, Hastings and Mornington. Cost: $9.7 million.
- Option 2: Move all four shire departments (planning, finance, infrastructure, and community services) to the main office in Besgrove St, Rosebud. Only infrastructure and finance are currently based at Rosebud. Cost: $25.9 million.
- Option 3: Move all departments to a new complex at Wannaeue Place. Cost: $56.5 million.
- Option 4: Move all departments to a new Mornington office in Civic Reserve (the planning department is at the existing Mornington office in Queen St, built in the early 1960s). Cost: $51.7 million.
- Option 5: Move the planning department from Queens St, Mornington, to Besgrove St and leave Hastings as is (community services is based at Hastings). Cost: $23.9 million.
- Option 6: Move planning, finance, infrastructure to Wannaeue Place and leave community services at Hastings. Cost: $53.7 million.
The report found new or increased shire office accommodation in any location “will provide a temporary stimulus” to the local economy.
This does not necessarily apply to Besgrove St, which is some distance from the closest shopping precinct, Rosebud Plaza, at the beach end of Boneo Rd.
The report stated: “Other forms of development, for example, residential, retail or entertainment complexes … will provide the same temporary stimulus but in addition will provide an ongoing stimulus to the local economy by providing a permanent increase in demand for goods and services.”
However, “the organisational efficiency benefits achieved through co-location of staff are not justified given the high capital cost necessary [to achieve this] and the very long payback periods required to recover the cost of the investment”.
It also cautions that moving staff to a Wannaeue Place office “will in part be matched by the reduction in demand for the goods and services being sourced in existing office locations …”
Factors such as ease of access – buses run past Wannaeue Place and loop into Mornington – are considered. Major “threats” to all six proposals were “negative community perceptions” and “reduced capacity to implement current capital works programs”.
The report concluded variously that its results were “…informed by the selection of the evaluation criteria… It is acknowledged that it is possible to reach another conclusion depending on the weightings given to the evaluation criteria or, if appropriate, other criteria [are] adopted.”
“The most advantageous option … is to retain the status quo”, which provided an office in each shire activity centre, whose presence “will continue to provide economic support for and appreciation by their respective local communities”.
“In theory, [amalgamating the three offices] would offer some administration efficiencies and … cost savings”. But these benefits “do not readily justify the high capital expenditure required. It is considered there are better new private and council investment options available to broaden the commercial offer to Rosebud [Wannaeue Place].”
The report did not explore these options.