Coffs Harbour – A Regional City on the Move (17 July 2020)

3 weeks ago | by

The North Coast Regional Plan and the recently released Coffs Harbour Regional City Action Plan, both released by the NSW Government, are projecting the population of Coffs Harbour to grow to 92,650 by 2036.

To enable and accommodate the planned growth, Coffs Harbour City Council has been strategically reviewing its Local Growth Management Strategy (LGMS) to ensure that as far as possible the growth is planned and importantly our City is connected, thriving and sustainable now and in the future.

An important element of our growth will be the infrastructure necessary to provide and enable services to our community for many years to come. Infrastructure delivery for the community will come from all levels of Government. The community would be well aware of the Pacific Highway Bypass of Coffs Harbour ($1.5 billion jointly funded by Federal and NSW Governments) due to commence soon and the $194 million expansion to the Coffs Harbour Hospital Campus. Together with Council’s investment in infrastructure over the next 20 years or so, it is anticipated that in excess of $2billion will be invested in our Regional City.

Whilst these and other Federal and State projects are essential for the future growth of our community, many other projects being delivered now and planned for the future by Coffs Harbour City Council will be essential to enable our growing community to be able to work, live and play in our Regional City and boost our Regional economy.

Some recent and current infrastructure projects include:

  • Jetty Foreshores upgrade, Stages 1-4:    $12m (Federal Govt. $5m, CHCC $7m)
  • C.ex Stadium Upgrade, EPIC Project:        $18.3m (Federal Govt. $6.9m, Local Businesses & Sports $750k, CHCC $10.65m)
  • West Woolgoolga Sports Complex:          $24.7m (Federal Govt. $10m, NSW Govt. $8m, CHCC $6.7m)
  • Airport Enterprise Park:                                 $25m (Federal Govt. $10m, CHCC $15m)
  • West Coffs Harbour District Park:              $1.2m (CHCC)
  • Coffs Coast Leisure Park Regional Sports Hub        $12.5m (NSW Govt. $10m, CHCC $2.5m)
  • Woolgoolga Beach Reserve Upgrade:     $3.5m ($1.83m Stage 1 underway)

A number of significant infrastructure projects are at various levels of planning for delivery in the next 5 to 20 years and beyond, some funded and others still to identify funding. Where funding may not be fully identified at this stage, the recent and current projects outlined above provide evidence of Council’s success in securing Federal and NSW Government grants and managing the financing and delivery of major infrastructure.

Examples of future infrastructure projects, at various stages of planning, include:

  • Woolgoolga CBD Streetscape Upgrade (Beach, Market, Carrington) $12m
  • Coffs Harbour CBD Upgrade (Gordon, Moonee, Park Ave) $18m
  • Elbow Street Multi Deck Carpark $14.5m
  • Jetty Strip Streetscape Upgrade $20m
  • Cultural and Civic Space Project $76.52m
  • Sawtell Road Upgrade (Linden to Marion Pl) $3.5m
  • Eastern Dorrigo Way Seal/Upgrade (Ulong to Megan) $3.5m
  • Jetty Foreshores North Wall Carpark Upgrade $1.2m
  • Jetty Foreshores Stage 6 Open Space Upgrade $6.5m
  • Brelsford Park Masterplan Works $5m
  • Hogbin Drive upgrade/duplication $78m

It is clear that the Cultural and Civic Space (CCS) project mentioned above has been the subject of broad discussion, at least in part due to the large sums of money involved. Let’s try to put this project into context.

First, Council’s annual ongoing operating budget associated with service delivery to the community is approximately $180m per annum and on top of that we deliver a substantial infrastructure program, both of new assets and renewal. The CCS project is being designed to enable Council to continue providing the best level of services to the community for the next 50 years.

When one mentions the $76.52m CCS project it sounds like a lot of money and, of course, it is. However, in the context of the annual operating budget of $180m, a $76m investment will position Council and our community well for the delivery of services for the next half a century. While approximately $30m funding has been identified, borrowings of approximately $46m at around 2.00% interest will be required over a period of up to 30 years.

Let’s now put the CCS project into the context of a household budget. According to the ABS, the median annual household income in Coffs Harbour is approximately $60,000 per annum and the median annual mortgage repayments are around $19,200. Let’s imagine that this household is considering trading up to a larger home that is more suitable for the needs of the household for the next 20 years. In doing so an additional $76,000 is required and the household has $30,000 savings, meaning a loan of $46,000 is required for a 20-year term at approximately 2.00%.

In the household scenario, on the face of things, it seems quite reasonable and affordable and in turn provides for the household for the next 20 years.

The principles are the same in the CCS project despite the dollars involved being much higher. Given the annual operating budget, the scale of the investment and the borrowings required, the projects are perfectly manageable.

In summary, all of the infrastructure projects mentioned above, and others, are necessary to deliver on the needs of our growing community.

It is extremely important for our current and future community that we plan for the growth that will inevitably occur and the infrastructure that is necessary to enable efficient and effective service for the community. With careful planning and financing we can ensure that our community remains connected, thriving and sustainable now and in the future.

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