The city’s plans for new cultural facilities recently took a great leap forward following Councillors’ endorsement of a plan to develop the old Salvation Army building in Gordon Street into a new Library, Gallery, Council Chamber, office accommodation and Customer Service Centre.
It has long been accepted that the current Harry Bailey Memorial Library and Regional Gallery are too small and there is community support for larger premises. In June 2016, the Gordon Street site was chosen after an investigation of 11 possible locations within the City Centre Masterplan area.
This followed repeated calls for a cultural/civic centre from the community consultation around the City Centre Masterplan 2031, Creative Coffs – Cultural Strategic Plan 2017-2022 and the Coffs Harbour City Library Strategic Plan 2012-2016. More recently, support for cultural facilities and a new civic building or ‘town hall’ was a key finding from the extensive public engagement during the development of the draft MyCoffs Community Strategic Plan.
At this stage it’s thought that the Library spaces would include a welcoming children’s area, quiet, well-lit reading and study areas, increased digital facilities and a youth gathering space with informal furnishings.
The Gallery would have more room for exhibitions, workshop spaces for arts and crafts education, and showcase touring exhibitions on the ground floor to encourage visits. The layout would feature public art and sculpture outside and in the vicinity, Aboriginal elements in the interior and exterior design and a high-quality café.
In addition there would be shared spaces for meetings, co-working, makers space and events like writer’s or artist’s talks, a digital media studio and best practice access and facilities for people with disabilities and older people.
The next stage of the project will include consultation on concepts, financial estimates and feasibility as well as funding options. Watch this space!