A new community centre is coming to North Melbourne
North Melbourne will soon be home to a new community hub as the City of Melbourne looks to meet the diverse needs of the area’s fast-growing population.
The proposed multi-use facility – which would be double the size of the current community centre – would be built at the current site of the Jean McKendry Neighbourhood Centre and Hotham Hub at 91-115 Melrose St and feature large community function spaces, meeting rooms, and a commercial kitchen.
Once complete, it will provide a range of new and expanded community services including maternal child health and family services, youth services in partnership with Drummond St, and ageing and inclusion services.
Construction is expected to begin in the next 18 to 24 months subject to planning approvals, however no completion date has been announced at this stage.
Activities and programs currently being run at the Jean McKendry Neighbourhood Centre and Hotham Hub would be relocated to nearby facilities during construction and replaced in the new community centre.
The council has allocated $21 million and a further $10 million in grant funding for the project over the next three financial years.
Further funding may be assigned in future years, but once design has been completed, the council said it would have a clearer picture of the likely costs for the project, and will share this information with the community.
At the time of publishing, councillors considered the proposal at their August 15 Future Melbourne Committee meeting, in which they were expected to vote in favour of approving two rounds of community consultation, with the first to run from August 16 to September 22, including workshops and pop-up sessions.
The second round of consultation is expected to be held later next year with draft designs to be shared with community and other stakeholders.
According to a council report, there was a “strong community need” for a new community centre in North Melbourne to replace existing community facilities in the precinct, “which are approaching the end of their lifespan”.
The new modern 3000sqm community hub will replace the existing nearby North Melbourne Community Centre (NMCC) on Buncle St, which is located next to the Buncle St Reserve.
The NMCC’s recreation facilities, including a basketball court and gym, will be redeveloped as part of the council’s longer-term planning “for recreation needs in the precinct”.
While the basketball court and gym would continue to operate during the construction of the new centre, plans for what the future recreational spaces would look like are being left open this stage and will be informed by community consultation.
However, the council confirmed there would be no loss of recreational facilities and options would be explored for open space and recreational facilities on the Melrose St site, as well as other council-owned sites in the neighbourhood.
Community members gather at the Jean McKendry Neighbourhood Centre in August, which is set to be transformed under a City of Melbourne plan. Photo: Maria Vasileva.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the new community centre was a huge win for the community that was set to see “unprecedented growth” in coming years with Macaulay’s current population of 3150 residents predicted to grow to 10,000 by 2051.
“We’re encouraging North Melbourne residents, workers, students and visitors to tell us what they want to see in this modern multi-use space, so we can ensure it can better meet the needs and aspirations of our community,” Cr Capp said.
The council’s health, wellbeing and belonging portfolio lead Cr Dr Olivia Ball said the new centre would make a “positive difference to the lives of those living and working in the area”.
“This new centre will help us meet the neighbourhood’s current and future needs – ensuring community members have easy access to a range of vital services and programs, closer to home.”
The Hotham Hub stopped operating as a children’s centre in August 2021, with families, staff, and equipment relocated to the Lady Huntingfield Early Learning and Family Services Centre in North Melbourne, which has the capacity to support more than 100 children per day.
Hotham Hub now operates as the North Melbourne Toy Library three days a week. •
For more information: Participate Melbourne