The proposed Cultural and Civic Space in the Heart of the City is starting to come into focus following the extensive public consultation over possible design elements and features carried out earlier this year.
More than 1,800 surveys and comments were received from members of the community on the three diverse designs for a proposed new building to house a Regional Gallery, Central Library, Museum, multipurpose community meeting rooms, co-working space, shop, café, function space, customer service area, Council staff office accommodation and car parking. There was clear support for the new building, as well as the benefits which include:
- access to cultural opportunities and facilities that are not currently available;
- cultural precinct and cultural tourism opportunity activation;
- lifelong learning, educational opportunities and improved literacy;
- social wellbeing and connections;
- economic benefit to artists, retail and service sector; and
- a vibrant and active central business district and city centre.
Common elements that got a lot of support were for a design that incorporates covered spaces to cope with the climate, celebrates local Aboriginal culture, is environmentally sustainable and includes adequate parking. Overall, there was most support for a design that will incorporate elements of Concept Design 3, which included a rammed earth gallery and canopy roof.
Councillors voted to move forward with the project at their meeting tonight (Thursday, June 14).
“This is a momentous step forward for the community’s cultural life and aspirations, lifelong learning opportunities, inclusivity and overall health and wellbeing,” said Coffs Harbour Mayor Councillor Denise Knight.
“But don’t lose sight of the fact that, fundamentally, this is all about our cultural and economic future. Most importantly it will be a key driver of the growth of our city as a major regional hub.
“It will transform the CBD into a vibrant, busy, attractive destination that draws in locals and visitors alike. It also offers maximum convenience – you can shop, use services, eat, exercise and enjoy a cultural experience – all in one visit to the CBD. Plus the new building will be just two minutes’ walk from City Square, parking and public transport. Done right, we will see Coffs Harbour’s city centre rival the very best that regional cities can offer.”
Alongside the design consultation, Council has also developed a Concept Business Case for the outline design. From initial discussions, the project has since grown significantly in scope – as have construction costs – and the final bill, which includes contingency amounts, is now forecast by independent quantity surveyors to be around $75m.
“At this stage, to enable the project to come to fruition, it will be necessary for Council to dispose of Council’s Administration Building, Rigby House, the current Museum and the commercial offices at Rose Avenue,” said Steve McGrath, Council’s General Manager.
“These sales will result in capital for the new Cultural and Civic Space and also allow for the rationalisation of Council assets – potentially providing for future efficiencies. In addition, we will be using funds from reserves accrued through Council’s organisational restructure and ongoing efficiency savings.
“With the proposed sales of Council assets and reserve funds included in the Concept Business Case, we are looking at a net cost of $46m.
“Coffs Harbour City Council is in a very strong financial position to undertake this project and we know we can manage any loans we may need. We also have a proven track record over many years in successfully managing major infrastructure projects such as the $180m Regional Water Supply project.”
The next step is for a schematic design to be developed that brings together all the community feedback on the three concept designs and adds engineering and building requirements.
The schematic design will enable a Development Application to be made and costs to be refined. A detailed design step then follows, so that construction tenders can be sought and the construction started. At this stage, the project is due to be completed by May 2022.
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