Government gets ready to sell off part of the Royal Australian Mint
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Government gets ready to sell off part of the Royal Australian Mint

The federal government has been given the green light for its plans to sell off one of the heritage-listed buildings at the Mint this year, applying to change planning rules to allow a health centre and consulting rooms.

The building, in front of the main Mint building, is currently tenanted by Questacon. It fronts the sports oval on Dennison Street.

The National Capital Authority approved an application from the Department of Finance to rezone part of its block from national capital use to mixed use on block 5, section 65.

National trust spokesman, Eric Martin at the Royal Australian Mint Administration Building which has been given the green light to be rezoned and sold off later this year.

National trust spokesman, Eric Martin at the Royal Australian Mint Administration Building which has been given the green light to be rezoned and sold off later this year.

Photo: Elesa Kurtz

The application says the building was used as the Mint's administration wing until 2009, when the administration was transferred to the main Mint building, where coins are also minted.

After a refurbishment then a fit-out for Questacon, the science museum moved in late in 2012. The fit-out had involved removing almost all original partition walls. The marble lined walls and floors of the building’s original entrance had been substantially retained, as had the original stainless steel panelled entrance doors and the original windows had been refurbished.

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The Department of Finance wanted to rezone the administration building to allow a health tenant. Health-related businesses dominate that area of Deakin. It plans to sell the building by tender later this year.

In a submission by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science to the draft amendment that included input from Questacon, a division of the department, it said the department aimed to ensure the science museum's "continued ability to operate at the site unimpeded by the change of land use".

It said the now previous national capital use zone aligned with Questacon's activities and operations and that the mixed use rezoning could be used by a new landlord to restrict Questacon's activities.

The National Trust of Australia also lodged a submission citing concerns about the heritage of the building. Spokesman Eric Martin said a heritage management plan was in place and any change needed to be in accordance with it.

He said if any future use protected the heritage values of the place, it would be supported.

Documents said the sale of the building reflected the government’s property divestment program announced in the 2015-16 budget to rationalise the Commonwealth’s property holdings.

The Royal Australian Mint, on a 35 hectare site, is on the Commonwealth Heritage List.

An aerial of the Royal Australian Mint in Deakin. The highlighted building is to be sold off later this year. An application has been lodged to change its zoning.

An aerial of the Royal Australian Mint in Deakin. The highlighted building is to be sold off later this year. An application has been lodged to change its zoning.

Photo: Supplied

The National Capital Authority said the Department of Finance had prepared a management plan to protect the heritage values.

"The proposed land use change will not impact on the heritage values of the Mint Administration Building," the authority said.

"Finance is not required to undertake a heritage referral, but will protect the heritage values of the building by including covenants and provisions in the Crown Lease and sale documentation."

The Royal Australian Mint opened in 1965. Construction of the two buildings began in 1964 and major refurbishments, including new visitor facilities, were undertaken from 1984-87. The finished buildings cost $5 million in 1965 and an additional $4 million was spent on equipment.

The Mint is the sole supplier of Australia’s circulating coinage, producing more than 14 billion circulating coins since it opened. It has capacity to produce more than two million coins a day.

Han Nguyen reports on property for The Canberra Times. She joined the Times in 2017 after working as a breaking news reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.