A well-established approach to the design and construction of the new Cultural and Civic Space has been adopted by Council to help cut the potential risk of escalation in costs or completion time.
The schematic design and preparation of a Development Application (DA) for the $76m project are to be carried out together to shorten the time needed for the project and a building contractor is to be appointed early in the process with the understanding that they are to keep to an agreed cost.
“By bringing in a suitably qualified contractor at the earliest possible stage we can get them on board during the design process so that they are across all the construction requirements, they can bring forward early works such as demolition and, ultimately, the whole project will be finished far faster,” said Steve McGrath, Council’s General Manager. “This is important as there is a risk that the costs of construction materials could rise during a lengthy build, which will affect the overall cost. Also, by having an agreed maximum price from the start, we get certainty that there will not be any major cost blowout.”
While the total cost of the project is forecast at $76m, it will be offset by proposed sales of Council assets and available reserve funds resulting in a net cost of $46m.
To ensure that this approach can be undertaken, Council last night agreed to bring forward the necessary funds of $2m for the DA preparation and schematic design. Once the draft design is available, it will be put out for public comment prior to further progress.
Councillors voted to move ahead with the new Cultural and Civic Space in June this year after more than 1,800 surveys and comments were received from members of the community 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.
At the same Council Meeting, it was also agreed that the project must be carried out as cost-effectively and swiftly as possible.
“Coffs Harbour has been crying out for a cultural and multi-functional facility like this for many, many years, but that doesn’t mean we don’t do it as prudently as possible,” said the Mayor, Councillor Denise Knight. “Doing it quickly doesn’t mean we cut corners, it means we are doing it efficiently.”
The new Cultural and Civic Space will:
- provide access to cultural opportunities and facilities that are not currently available in Coffs Harbour;
- create a cultural precinct and cultural tourism opportunities;
- provide lifelong learning, educational opportunities and improved literacy;
- increase social wellbeing and connections;
- bring economic benefit to artists and the retail and service sector; and
- help develop a vibrant and active central business district and city centre.
The project is due to be completed by May 2022.