30 June 2023

Tenders called for $50m new Yass Council building and community hub

| Sally Hopman
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General manager of Yass Valley Council, Chris Berry, in front of the old Crago Mill site.

General manager of Yass Valley Council, Chris Berry, in front of the old Crago Mill site. Photo: File.

Tenders have been called for the $50 million Crago Mill development in the centre of Yass which includes the construction of new council chambers.

The project also involves the conversion of the old flour mill into a new library, community meeting rooms, small business centre and work hub, cafe, public amenities as well as space for long-term government tenants and community groups and additional car parking.

Approval for the project was given at the April 2023 meeting of Yass Valley Council when councillors agreed to offset the $50 million loan by seeking grants and through the sale of surplus land. An increase in rates was not proposed as part of the decision.

READ ALSO Yass Council borrows $50 million to build precinct, including new home for itself

Planning for the precinct began in 2006 when the former council began to acquire the land on Comur Street, site of the mill and council administration building.

Predicting that the Yass Valley would grow significantly over ensuing years, this parcel of land was seen as suited to a new council administration building and community precinct for the growing local government area.

In 2020, the council identified a number of infrastructure projects for the Valley, and resolved to undertake planning and design work so the projects would be “shovel-ready” in the event it secured grant funding. Crago Mill Precinct was identified as one of the main priorities for the preparation of such plans.

Black and white photo of old mill

The Crago flour mill was a hive of activity in the centre of Yass before the Depression hit. Photo: File.

Community consultation was invited later in 2020. At the same time, the council sought expressions of interest from designers to develop the project. Following the community feedback, the council deemed Comur Street to be the preferred site and submissions on the scope of works were passed on to Brewster Hjorth Architects.

The project master plan and designs went on public exhibition in 2021, with the development application (DA) and plans going on public exhibition early in 2022. Later that year, the final DA was lodged and assessed by Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council and the Joint Regional Planning Panel. In May 2023, the DA was approved.

The Crago flour mill has had a long history in the town. First known as Barber’s Mill when it was built in 1870, it was later refurbished by A.B. Triggs in 1898, which included extending the railway to service the mill. The following year, it was sold to P.T. Crago, who used it to produce bran, flour and breakfast cereals.

But demand for the mill’s produce declined in the 1920s and 30s as the Depression set in, with local rural industry moving from wheat to sheep production.

Drawing of proposed new Yass business hub.

An artist’s impression of the proposed new Crago Precinct in the centre of Yass. Photo: Brewster Hjorth Architects.

During the Great Depression, the mill was converted to a rabbit processing and freezing works.

It was later sold to Winchcombe Carson as a produce store with the surrounding buildings sold to Yass Valley Council.

The tender to find a contractor for Crago Mill will remain open for five weeks, closing on Thursday, 27 July 2023.

Based on the tenders received, a report will be prepared for the September 2023 council meeting to appoint a head contractor for the project.

More information about the Crago Mill project is available on the Yass Valley Council website.

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