Council unanimously decided to endorse the business case presented for the Crago Mill Precinct during the April meeting with councillors voting to allocate an additional $1,205,000 to complete the detailed design of the precinct.

This is on top of the $672,000, which was allocated in the 2020/21 budget for the completion of a master plan, schematic design and all necessary development approval documentation.

Under current plans locals will be able to meet, eat, play, study, and relax all in the same community hub.

The project includes Council chambers, administration offices, a new library, meeting rooms, and other community facilities, as well as upgrading and restoring the iconic Crago Flour Mill.

Yass Valley Mayor Allan McGrath said little was changed after the public consultation and the additional funds will be used to draw up plans and specifications for the precinct.

Crago Mill Precint 3D Modelling by Brester Hjorth Architects

“It’s quite a big job when you take into account the offices, the council chambers, the proposed new library, meeting rooms, the commercial building, and Crago Mill,” he said. “It’s quite a comprehensive undertaking and a great deal of detail and we can only do it once and we’ve got to do it properly.”

The development application proposes to demolish the old buildings adjoining the mill to make way for a single-storey public administration building and community library, two-storey commercial office building, public plaza, 67-space car park and additional on-street parking.

The new library in the precinct will also feature a children’s area and study centre. The area will have flexible space suitable for a café, gallery and museum, community meeting rooms, and a small business centre/work hub.

There will also be space for long-term tenants, community groups and public amenities.

Allan said the Council began planning for a new Council building when he was last sitting on council over a decade ago so it’s well overdue.

“I think it’s not only going to create a Council Chambers and offices fit for purpose, which are not overcrowded like the present ones,” he said. “But it’s also going to enhance the appearance of the Main Street and the entrance into town.”

“It will give an opportunity to address Crago Mill itself, which is a beautiful building that has just been sitting there and gradually declining over the years. So it’ll be converted to a useful purpose.”

“I believe that we’re moving in the right direction,” the mayor said. “We’ve had some criticism about the Council Chambers but of course that’s to be expected.”

“I mean the simple fact is the existing [Council] building is totally unfit for purpose. It’s overcrowded and really, it’s unsafe in many respects.”

Completion of the whole project provides for future growth and will certainly enhance the entrance to Yass CBD.

“We have to make provisions for growth,” Allan said. “I mean the train has already left the station as far as Yass’ growth is concerned.”

“We’ve got to plan not only for the next few years, but the longer term.”

Brianna O’Rourke