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  • Misunderstandings over Cultural and Civic Space

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    The Coffs Coast Advocate requested a response from Council yesterday (9 July 2019) to comments it had obtained on the proposed Cultural and Civic Space by local businessman Steve Gooley and ex-politician Andrew Fraser. Council provided a response, but it was not used in the Advocate edition of 10 July 2019. It is reproduced below for community clarity.

    Council Response:

    Comments made today by a local businessman and a former politician contain a catalogue of misunderstandings and misconceptions over the funding and costs of the proposed Cultural and Civic Space.

    First of all, it should be pointed out that the development of the Concept Business Case was done in conjunction with an external project management company with public and civic buildings experience which provided expert project management guidance and input. In addition, two independent external quantity survey firms were involved in the cost estimations required.

    The Concept Business Case shows that the total project cost is estimated at $76.52m. This total cost will be offset by $20m in asset sales – the sales of Rigby House, the current Council Chamber building, the Museum and buildings in Rose Avenue. The $20m estimate is a figure provided by independent valuation.

    In addition, a further $10.5m from internal cost-saving reserves is to be used. This brings the net cost of any possible borrowings required to $46.02m.

    Fact 1: Council will not be servicing a debt of $75m, as stated by businessman Steve Gooley.

    We are actively pursuing Federal and State grants to further cut the $46m borrowings. It’s correct that Council does not have grants at the moment, but we will continue to apply.

    Even if the final loan is $46.02m, we are currently able to borrow loans at a 2.6% PA fixed rate for 20 years from the NSW Government’s Treasury Corporation (T-Corp). We are able to access these rates from T-Corp because the NSW Government has declared us a financially sustainable council under its Fit for the Future criteria.

    Fact 2: The proposed borrowing costs of a debt of $46.02m would be $1.9m pa.

    Council’s total borrowings would remain well within the Debt Service Ratio target set by the NSW Government

    Fact 3: The proposed borrowings leave plenty of capacity to provide the means to undertake other projects that the community requires.

    Businessman Steve Gooley also misunderstands that the building is not a simple office building with identical floors such as Gateway House. The building will be predominantly cultural – and that requires a very different building approach which explains the cost per square metre to build. As the Concept Design shows, the building will have different floor sizes, heights and layouts to accommodate the required spaces that a cultural building needs.

    Fact 4: You cannot compare a simple office building built over 10 years ago to a cultural facility built in today’s market. Mr Gooley’s estimates of cost per square metre are incorrect.

    Mr Gooley said: “I think they’ve overstated the council buildings valuations by well over 200-300 percent”.

    Fact 5: The valuations were provided by independent expert valuation, not Council.

    A former politician has also made incorrect statements regarding the proposal. Andrew Fraser has said: “From what I can see their back up plan is to sell the airport to cover the cost of it and the airport is bringing in quite a reasonable return on investment at the moment.”

    Fact 6: Council is not proposing to sell the airport. The proposed airport lease, should Council proceed, has nothing to do with the Cultural and Civic Space project.

    Mr Fraser goes on to suggest that the gallery should be on City Hill, a site that is remote from the CBD and public transport links.

    However, as has been explained to Mr Fraser on numerous occasions, current best practice in urban planning states that having a cultural precinct in the heart of a city centre provides the vibrancy, cultural and economic benefits to areas that can otherwise be lifeless outside business hours. It also means that public transport links are close by.

    He also claims that Council can “add a couple of new storeys to the current council chambers”.

    Fact 7: This is not possible. The building can only accommodate one additional storey and the business case for this option did not stack up.

  • Cultural & Civic Space Project Update – June 2019

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    This exciting project is being designed to combine arts, community and culture to create a lively community and civic hub for a vibrant and active City Centre.

    Thank you for your feedback

    The 10th May 2019 saw the launch of the public display of the draft Schematic Design drawings and principles for the Cultural and Civic Space. We had displays available for public viewing at 5 permanent sites and also had pop up displays at Coffs Central, Toormina & Moonee Shopping Centres. Many people came to have a chat, ask questions and provide feedback.

    In the months prior to the launch, Council and BVN Architecture have been working with Focus groups and individuals to gain an understanding the differing wants and needs for the building. During this period we held over 30 meetings.

    Channels for public feedback were available from the 10 – 31st May and we thank everyone for providing valuable feedback, thoughts and suggestions. These have been combined together in a report that will go to the Council and will be available for public viewing.

    Council to consider report 11th July 2019

    Council will consider further information, reports, options and recommendations for the progression of the project at the Council meeting on Thursday 11th July. The council meeting starts at 5pm at the Council Chambers. The meeting is open to the public and all are welcome to attend.

    If you have any queries about the project please contact us via this page.

  • Invitation – Coffs Harbour Chamber Breakfast June 26th

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    Cultural & Civic Space Design Presentation by BVN Architects at June meeting

    Coffs Harbour City Council recently released a preliminary Schematic Design for the proposed Cultural and Civic Space for the Coffs Harbour region.

    This unique building design provides more space for our central library, regional gallery and museum, and centralised council facilities to bring life, vibrancy and economic benefits to the Heart of the City.

    The Chamber is pleased to confirm Matthew Blair of international architectural firm, BVN to present on this new exciting vision for Coffs Harbour.

    This is a unique opportunity to enjoy an architect design presentation featuring our proposed new gallery, the design principles and building elements and to understand more about the project. We look forward to seeing you there – Don’t Miss it!


    Time: 7am - 9am, June 26th

    Venue: Coffs Harbour Golf Club

    Tickets: (Member) $35 Visitors $45

    Book your Spot today, all are welcome!

  • May Project Newsletter

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  • MEDIA RELEASE: Exciting new vision for Coffs Harbour Cultural and Civic Space

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    Coffs Harbour City Council has released a preliminary Schematic Design for the proposed Cultural and Civic Space for the Coffs Harbour region.

    Coffs Harbour Mayor Councillor Denise Knight says the release of this unique building design is a welcome step forward, providing more space for our central library, regional gallery and museum, and centralised council facilities to bring life, vibrancy and economic benefits to the Heart of the City.

    “This preliminary schematic design has been produced from the consultation with Coffs Harbour residents and key stakeholders in 2018 which indicated they were seeking an environmentally sustainable and efficient ‘statement’ building that reflects the place we all call home,” she said.

    The design team from architects BVN has been working on a preliminary schematic design that considers the elements from previous engagement activities that provided Council with a very clear picture about what the community were looking for in this facility.

    This phase of the project has seen key stakeholders working with the design team to help develop draft schematic designs that include the elements to deliver that earlier vision.

    With an overarching theme of ‘All Welcome’, this preliminary schematic design has six strong principles that support the decision-making processes for the building design. Each building element will also match the desired experiences to ‘gather, create and discover’ in this reimagined space to combine arts, community and culture.

    Read the full media release here.
  • The Journey to date

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    Where we have come from often defines where we are going. Take a look at the fascinating evolution of the community, learning and cultural facilities in the Coffs Harbour LGA.

  • Award-winning Architect from Coffs Selected for Cultural Space Design

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    Architectural firm BVN – whose recent projects include the new Australian Embassy in Bangkok and the Aboriginal Centre for Excellence in Western Sydney – have won the contract to design Coffs Harbour’s new Cultural and Civic Space in the CBD.

    The design team will be led by BVN Principal Matthew Blair who grew up in Coffs Harbour and went to Coffs Harbour High School. Matthew brings a local understanding and awareness to the project, along with his experience working across Australia and internationally on public, commercial, education and other projects. He is passionate about Coffs and its potential and sees this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a positive contribution to his home town.

    “BVN will bring a fresh set of eyes to this project with no preconceptions of the design, but an awareness and understanding of the community effort that has gone into the project to date,” said Matthew. “We recognise the opportunities and challenges of the project – the ability to be a catalyst to re-energise the precinct between Harbour Drive and Coffs Creek, to help make a definable Civic Heart in the middle of town, to work with an engaged, active community with diverse aspirations and needs, and to compose a large, complex brief of many different types of places into a physical manifestation the idea and identity of Coffs Harbour.

    “We are enthusiastic, curious, skilled and driven to create a magnificent place in Coffs Harbour. We want to work with Coffs Harbour City Council and all stakeholders to make this happen.”

    Matthew will be working with fellow BVN principal Kevin O’Brien, who brings a deep understanding of design for place and culture through his work as an architect and from his indigenous heritage. Kevin is currently wrapping up work to deliver the new Aboriginal Centre for Excellence in Western Sydney. Matthew and Kevin will work with their strong team of architects, interior designers and organisational experts to understand and deliver the project.

    The Cultural and Civic Space will incorporate a modern library and gallery, a youth area and digital media studio, exhibition space, parking, workshops and makers studios, public art, a café, small events space and technology resources.

    “Having BVN on board is a fantastic result for the project, the community and the city,” said Coffs Harbour Mayor, Councillor Denise Knight. “Matthew brings invaluable local knowledge and the entire BVN team really understands how important it is to engage with the community to create a Cultural and Civic Space that will offer opportunities and facilities for all.”

    BVN is an award-winning Australian architectural practice with vast experience in cultural and civic projects such as Woollahra Library in Sydney and the Museums Discovery Centre for the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) in Castle Hill.

    The schematic design created by BVN is due to be completed for public comment by May 2019 and the proposed detailed design is expected to be finished by May 2020.

  • What Is the Coffs Harbour Cultural and Civic Space Project? - February Newsletter

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    The Coffs Harbour Civic and Cultural Space is being designed to combine arts, community and culture to create a lively community, civic and learning hub for a vibrant and active City Centre.

    There has been great progress made on this exciting project, read the Mayor’s Message and Project Newsletter for more details.

  • The next stage is underway!!

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    The Cultural and Civic Space Project has been a very busy space over the last month. Since our last update an External Project Manager has been engaged, Turner & Townsend Thinc (T&TT) for Schematic Design and preparation of the Development Application. With extensive experience in delivering projects of this type, size and complexity in Regional Australia they have hit the ground running. The T&TT leads for the project, Fergal O’Donovan and Orla Conlon, recently conducted a detailed 3-day site visit and met with key primary stakeholders. They are working on contracts to procure many of the key roles including Architect, Town Planner, other design and planning specialists with a clear view of having these roles in place early in the New Year. The Schematic Design phase has started!

    What is Schematic Design?

    Schematic design is the next phase in the project. In this phase, the architect works with the client to determine the project requirements and goals. Schematic Design often produces rough drawings of a site plan, floor plans, elevations and often illustrative sketches or computer renderings. At the end of this stage we will have a view of what the design will look like and the Development Application will be prepared for Council approval prior to lodgement.

    Recently appointed to the Project Team is Elise Petty who joins Council as Projects Officer working across the project, however her primary role will be Stakeholder & Community Engagement and Communication.

    A Grant Application has been submitted to the Federal Government for $10 Million under the Building Better Regions Fund Round 3 – Infrastructure Projects Stream. With 2 applications for funding now submitted we hope to hear back in the next month in relation to the first of these.