Will this building be Sustainable and Environmentally Friendly?

    The building design is developing to respond to the unique environmental conditions of the Coffs Harbour region by implementing low embodied energy construction systems and materials. It aims to minimise energy use and harness the climate to improve the quality of spaces through passive and active solar and system design.  Sustainability of the people is equally important - the physical space shall support the health and well-being of the occupants, encourage them to thrive, and be a catalyst for them reaching purpose and potential.  The building will target a wide range of sustainability initiatives to align with Council’s Sustainability Policy in lieu of seeking an official third party sustainability rating.

    See here for a detailed Sustainability Fact Sheet.

    How will the Cultural and Civic Space benefit local business?

    The Economic, Cultural and Social Benefits of the Coffs Harbour Cultural and Civic Space Project is a comprehensive report compiled by id. the population experts.

    There are three phases of economic benefits that the CCS Project creates:

    Construction phase - $64.5 million

    Operational phase - $900 000 +/year

    Induced tourism - $1.8 million/year

    The construction phase (2021-2023) is expected to generate around 555 direct and flow on jobs including 358 local jobs, injecting $33.3 million dollars into the local economy.

    How much of the facility is designed for Council offices and for cultural and community use?

    At the close of the detailed design phase, Council administration offices are 2,806 square metres and community and cultural spaces are 6,043 square metres.  Compared to Coffs Harbour’s current facilities, the library, museum and gallery are approximately 2.5 to 3 times larger, with the new library meeting state library benchmarks for a city our size.

    Will Council increase our rates to pay for the new building?

    The funds to pay for the new building are planned to come from several areas; the sale of 4 Council buildings (Rigby House, Castle St, The Museum site & Rose Avenue) expected to nett approximately $20 million; internal savings to fund asset renewal of $10.5 million; potentially some grant funding; the balance will come from borrowings. The borrowings will be “business as usual” loans spread over the life of the building. Budget planning to date shows that no special rate variations are needed to fund the building based on current cost estimates and Council decisions. The project will not put Council under any financial stress.

    What about Parking?

    Parking will be available both around the new building and in the multi-storey car park behind the precinct. 

    Coffs Harbour CBD currently contains about 4,000 public car parking spaces – about 75% of this total is on the east side of the highway, 25% on the west. About half of the supply are on-street spaces and half are off-street. Some of the main off-street car parks include: Coffs Central (900 spaces), Woolworths (250 spaces), Lyster St (180 spaces), Elbow St (140 spaces).

    Council is currently working on a Transport Strategy in alignment with the City Centre Masterplan to review all parking and transport needs in the city centre, both now and into the future. These reviews will include parking and traffic studies and future plans for more parking, footpath and road crossing improvements. This strategy will also incorporate the planned Riding Lane upgrades. Some of the upgrades under consideration include universal (accessible) parking alongside the building, a covered drop off adjacent to the car park and building, and installation of available parking space indicators to encourage people to use the upper parking levels.

    The current design incorporates a total of 75 basement parking spaces and the Traffic Assessment Reports (available in the Have Your Say Document Library) detail the possible locations, allocations and usage of those parking spaces.

    There will be basement car spaces in the CCS building, but these will be for Council operational use. The community will continue to use the adjacent multi-deck car park and other public parking in the area. There are universal access spots in the surrounding area to provide easy access for those with mobility issues.

    What is the cost of the Cultural and Civic Space Project?

    The total project budget is $76.52 million and is inclusive of all costs for the 23-31 Gordon Street Site, including fit out.

    What will the Cultural and Civic Space include?


    The Cultural and Civic Space is a single building containing new cultural (museum, gallery, library and community spaces) and administration (council offices, customer service) facilities in a single building spread over six floors, one basement and a roof plant. 

    The building contains a multi-level, three-dimensional public space which rises through the centre of the facility to Level 3, providing public accessibility to its various functions. This space makes use of the local climate conditions to provide enclosed, semi-enclosed and open public spaces throughout the building. The building use are split as follows: 

    Basement: car parking, operational parking and loading, storage and plant services. 

    Ground level: Along the southern portion of the site is the gallery and museum, loading dock, cafe and associated back-of-house spaces. To the north is the start of the public library (which is spread over three floors) and the car park entry. Between these is a public internal walkway including lifts and a stair. 

    Level 1: Council customer service area and associated office accommodation, the continuation of the public library including the makerspace, co-working, digital creative studio and young adult area. Customer service can be accessed from ground floor via a stair or the lifts.

    Level 2: The bulk of the library, filling the entire floor.

    Level 3: A public open space, part covered and part open to the sky. Opening from this space is a large multi-purpose space (which will function as the Council Chamber as well a community function and event place), meeting rooms, the entry to the council workplace, Council Executive offices and associated amenities.

    Levels 4 and 5: Council workplace 

    Level 6: Plant room (building services) 


    What is the anticipated tourism benefit?

    Tourism and hospitality are key industries and major contributors to Coffs Harbour’s economy. The development of a new tourism offer has the potential to attract new visitation as well as extend the length of trip and tourism expenditure captured in Coffs Harbour.

    The project is expected to generate around 23.8 jobs per year ($1.3 million value added) from increased arts and heritage based visitation.

    What are the benefits of the Coffs Harbour Cultural and Civic Space project?

    As part of the Concept Business Case, a cost benefit analysis (economic assessment) was undertaken. The benefit cost ratio (BCR) of 1.04 for this project shows that it is economically viable, meaning that for every $1 investment, the project is expected to generate $1.04 of economic and community benefit. 

    The independent economic assessment identified a variety of financial benefits of the project, including injecting $33.3 million into the local economy during construction, creating 358 local jobs in the construction period and 31 on-going jobs after the building is completed, resulting in an extra $2m per annum Gross Regional Product for the Coffs Harbour area.

    A range of cultural benefits will flow from the development including providing the community with a vibrant, centrally located cultural hub, improved opportunities for lifelong learning, student excursions, spaces and resources to support entrepreneurial micro-business, and an ability to attract national exhibitions, as well as increased exhibition space and activities to celebrate our diverse cultural heritage.

    People already know about Coffs Harbour’s incredible natural beauty – this project gives us the opportunity to have even more to offer residents and visitors than our impressive beaches, forests and waterfalls. Cultural tourism is growing at a faster rate than tourism overall, with art and cultural events encouraging visitors to stay longer and spend more money. Tourism and hospitality are key industries for Coffs Harbour and this project will support both.

    Will there be an events space?

    The Cultural and Civic Space will feature both indoor and outdoor events spaces and multipurpose rooms, as well as a commercial kitchen, that will be available to the local community for hire.

    Will the new space house a performance or entertainment centre?

    The Cultural & Civic Space does not include a large performing arts or entertainment centre.  It does, however, contain a large multipurpose room that will be able to host events, performances and civic functions that would normally take place in a town hall.  This room would also serve as a Chambers for Council meetings approximately every fortnight and will hold approximately 200 people.  An outdoor rooftop area and other spaces through the building will also be available for events and workshops.

    An Issues and Options Paper (interim findings) for Performing Arts Spaces ( Indoor and Outdoor) has been presented to Council for consideration in December 2019.  This discussion paper outlines the definitions of different types of venues, the current and future needs in relation to the provision of adequate performance spaces and the options and steps Council would need to consider moving forward.

    More information about community facility planning and performing arts projects can be found here: https://haveyoursay.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/PerformingArtsSpace1 or https://haveyoursay.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/communityfacilitiesplanning or by contacting creativecoffs@chcc.nsw.gov.au.

    Will there be more space in the new building?

    Yes. Within the schematic design the new Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery will have more than three times the space of the current gallery (619m2 compared with 198m2), the new Coffs Harbour Regional Museum will have more than 2.5 times the space (340m2 compared with 131m2). The new Harry Bailey Memorial Library will be 2578m2, plus a shared space of 592m2. The current library is 986m2, which is only 40% of the size recommended by the State Library of NSW. The new cultural spaces will be much more than places to borrow books or view art, they will allow for a contemporary use of services and workshops that will benefit a much wider cross-section of the Coffs community.

    Why not just refurbish or upgrade existing Council properties?

    The cost of refurbishing existing properties is not competitive when compared with building a new, greenfields space that can incorporate multiple cultural and civic amenities and more useable space for the community.

     The Concept Business Case found the cost of incorporating Council offices and chambers into the new Cultural and Civic Space was competitive with upgrading existing facilities, and would result in better outcomes for the community as well as ongoing cost savings for the City.

     These savings include the reduced operational costs associated with managing one property, as opposed to multiple properties across several locations. A central Cultural and Civic Space will also enliven and activate the city centre, resulting in increased visitation and benefits to local businesses from the increased foot traffic.

    How many people are anticipated to visit the Cultural and Civic Space?

    It is expected that 400,000 people will visit the space each year. This figure was provided by Id. Consulting in a report, informed by data Council provided them on existing and anticipated visitor numbers (based on our research of similar cultural facilities elsewhere including Bendigo, Dubbo, Tweed Heads) and applied them to our existing facility statistics.

    Meeting space (including the multi-purpose/chamber) visitation of an estimated 60,000 p.a. was based on existing Cavanbah Centre visitation. Also included in the figures was visitation to the co-working spaces. We assumed no change in visitation re the Council offices.

    For context, the daily average of visitors at Harry Bailey Memorial Library from 1 July – 30 September 2019 was 583 people per day.

    How much of the total cost does the Civic component constitute?

    Based on the floor area at the end of Schematic Design (approx. 3,480 sqm) it is estimated that approximately $20 million could be saved of the total $76.52 million by removing the civic components. This is an estimate only, as no design work has been completed on this option.

    It is also important to note that if the civic component of the building is excluded, then the input from the sales of Rigby House and the Castle Street building is also excluded. This means the cost savings from excluding council office and chamber is substantially less than $20 million.

    What is Council’s vision or masterplan for the city centre and how does the Cultural and Civic Space fit into this?

    In 2013 the Coffs Harbour City Centre Masterplan 2031 was endorsed by Council. It was the result of extensive consultation with the business and wider community. The Masterplan clearly outlined, among other initiatives, that it was to “create a place where economic, social and cultural pursuits fuse to enrich and enliven all who live, work and visit the City Centre”.  A key principle of the Masterplan is that the City Centre stands united as one retail, business, cultural and entertainment precinct with preferred development to occur as close to the City Square as possible. In addition, the City has taken into account The Government Architect NSW’s (GANSW’s) Better Placed policy, which clearly outlines the importance of good design and placement. You can view the Better Placed policy and principles at governmentarchitect.nsw.gov.au.

    Why are new Council offices included in the Cultural and Civic Space?

    Council staff are currently spread across two sites – Rigby House and the Castle Street Administration Building, which is almost 40 years old and is approaching its end of life. Being located in the one precinct will benefit the community, who will have a single point of access to all Council services. It will also allow all council staff to work more efficiently within a modern and functional workplace. The Cultural and Civic space will also bring staff from the Library, Museum and Gallery to a central location, allowing a more collaborative approach to cultural activities and education in Coffs Harbour.

    What are the environmental credentials of the proposed design?

    The schematic design incorporates important elements of the local environment, wrapping around a large fig tree in Riding Lane and featuring a rooftop garden. The design minimises energy use and the final design will align with Council’s Sustainability Policy. There is a factsheet with additional detail available here.

    How will the project be funded?

    Funding will be sourced from the City’s reserves, the sale of four council properties (Rigby House, Castle Street administration building, Rose Avenue offices and the Coffs Harbour Regional Museum) and from a loan. Grant funding will also be sought, to reduce the loan requirements

    Which properties will be sold as part of this plan?

    The current Council resolution is that Rigby House, the Castle Street Administration building, Rose Avenue Offices and the building housing the current Coffs Harbour Regional Museum are to be sold, as the function of all these buildings will be replaced by the Cultural and Civic Space building. 

    What is a Cultural and Civic Space?

    Exciting plans for a new cultural and civic building on Gordon Street are underway.

    The building will be the centre of a new community space in the heart of our city. 

    It will include:

    • a new state-of-the-art library, museum and gallery
    • a café, co-working and workshop spaces
    • a multi-purpose civic (Council Chambers) and meeting space
    • Council customer service and administration offices

    The key components of the building would be:

    Harry Bailey Memorial Library - a new central library

    • study/quiet areas for students, individuals and small groups

    • large, distinct children's area for storytelling, reading and play

    • improved access to resources via appropriate shelf heights and wider aisles for wheelchair access, mobility scooters and double strollers

    • larger collections in general, and in growth areas, such as community languages

    • better local studies and family history facilities

    • games / digital learning media space

    • additional spaces for people to connect and access high-speed quality internet using personal devices or public equipment

    Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery

    • multiple exhibition spaces

    • a library / gallery shared maker-space, wet workshop and digital media studio

    • interactive art spaces for digital media exhibitions

    ·Regional Museum

    • Exhibition space for permanent collection, ie Story of Coffs
    • Smaller exhibition space for temporary/touring exhibitions
    • Digitisation work area (shared with Library)

    Community Spaces

    • secure outdoor/garden space

    • a 200 seat multi-purpose event space which would also be used for Council meetings and to host events such as community meetings, concerts or artists' talks

    • increased digital connectivity access

    • a co-working space to support micro and small businesses with CBD workstations and meeting spaces

    • public meeting rooms and training facilities

    • an on-site café and small library/museum/gallery retail space

    • informal gathering spaces

    Civic Spaces

    The new precinct would also house one consolidated Council customer service and administration offices.  These offices are currently spread over two older buildings, one on the corner of Castle and Coff Streets and the other on the corner of Duke and Coff Streets. Up to 250 staff could be housed in the new facilities.

    The project has some exclusions as follows:

    • A performing arts venue.  Planning and research for outdoor and indoor performing arts are being addressed separately.
    • Precinct plan works [i.e. project excludes reconfigured Gordon Street, Riding Lane works (including urban lounge), and upgrades to Coff and Vernon Streets].  Planning and research is being addressed separately.
    • Museum and gallery permanent collection storage. Offsite storage is planned.
    • Relocation and installation of the South Solitary Island Light House optic
    • All works beyond the Gordon St site boundary 

    Where is 23-31 Gordon Street?

    To locals, the site is sometimes known as “the old Salvos”.  23-31 Gordon Street is opposite the Service NSW building and in front of the Castle Street car park.

    On June 23 2016, Council resolved to endorse the site at 23-31 Gordon Street for investigation of the feasibility of the new Library and Regional Gallery after an assessment of 11 sites in the City Centre Masterplan area.

    An analysis of the top three ranked sites was undertaken via selection criteria, site visits and advice from professional planning staff. The current site - 23-31 Gordon Street - was chosen as the preferred location.

    Best planning practice in cities across the world is clear that cultural and civic facilities need to be accessible to all residents and visitors. Gordon street is the most practical and logical location for the Cultural and Civic Space project and was chosen on the basis of sound planning principles.

    Specific advantages of this site include:

      • Close to Coffs Central and Harbour Drive, allowing people to combine visits with their day-to-day shopping, socialising and other activities.

      • Highly visible street-frontage location with a big impact on how the community and visitors see the character of Coffs Harbour.

      • Priority pedestrian access which is safe and attractive, particularly for older residents, children and parents with prams. Fully accessible for people with limited mobility.

      • Night-time activation of the CBD, bringing more life to the City after 5pm.

      • Secure and attractive outdoor areas.

      • Walking distance from public transport with a minimal gradient.

      • Access to convenient and safe car parking.

        Importantly, the site is where people already go for work, shopping and socialising. This is vital for both young users and older members of the community - both groups are often dependent on public transport. 45% of these groups are members of the central library.

        A precinct analysis has been developed to support the proposal and will inform updates to the CBD Masterplan.

    Why do we need a new library , museum and gallery?

    The current Library, Museum and Gallery are too small to be able to provide an acceptable level of service for Coffs Harbour’s growing community.

    At 980m2, including back offices and storage, the current Harry Bailey Memorial Library is only 40% of the size recommended by the State Library of NSW for a city with Coffs Harbour’s population. A modern Library should contain study rooms, meeting rooms, larger collections, space to deliver public programs without disrupting other users and an area for young people.

    Our current Library cannot offer these.

    Click here for an infographic showing the functions and purpose of a modern library.

    The Australian Library and Information Association has also published a research summary report on the value and impact of libraries and how libraries can power smart cities.

    Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery is the smallest regional gallery in NSW, with 73.5 linear metres of hanging space. It can host one exhibition at a time. The current Gallery is not able to show art-forms such as sculptures and interactive digital arts. A contemporary Gallery would have workshop and other spaces for the community to create art, as well as view exhibitions. The Gallery also needs space to deliver public programmes that doesn’t restrict use of exhibition spaces.

    Why do arts, cultural and heritage activities matter?  Some of the economic and social value provided by museums and galleries to regional towns are outlined in this 'Adding Value' report from Museums and Galleries NSW.

    The proposed Cultural and Civic Space would include:

    • A new state-of-the-art central library, museum and regional gallery
    • Café and co-working space
    • A multi-purpose civic and events space, also to be used for Council meetings. 
    • Council customer service and administration offices.
    The facility is expected to deliver:
    • greater foot-traffic and a busier CBD, as well as many other cultural and community benefits;
    • enhanced opportunities for cultural tourism and the arts economy; and
    • support for business start-ups in our community through the co-working space.

    The project delivers substantial benefits.  An independent economic assessment identified a host of benefits including a variety of financial benefits over a 30 year period totalling $57m, 31 on-going jobs, an extra $2m per annum Gross Regional Product and a benefit cost ratio (BCR) of 1.04.

    A range of cultural benefits will flow from the development including a vibrant cultural hub, improved lifelong learning, increased visitor numbers and a variety of cultural facilities and spaces that don’t exist today.  There will be increased exhibition space and programs to celebrate our Aboriginal and diverse cultural heritage.

    Civic benefits include improvements to customer services, customer convenience, staff coherence and Council’s ability to attract and retain staff.  The sale of existing Council administration sites will facilitate site redevelopment to support strategic plans for Coffs Harbour and the new facility will send a strong message to the business community that this is a strong and developing regional City.

    The project will also enable activation of the 2 Castle St site in line with the City Centre Master Plan.

    To view the independent assessment of the Economic, Social and Cultural Benefits of the Cultural and Civic Space please click here

    What community consultation has been undertaken?

    Significant community consultation about the need for a cultural and civic precinct and cultural infrastructure has occurred since 2013, beginning with the development of the Coffs Harbour City Centre Masterplan 2031, followed by the development of the MyCoffs Community Strategic Plan and the Creative Coffs – Cultural Strategic Plan in 2016. 

    The Masterplan maps the future for the City Centre, focusing on revitalisation to stimulate economic activity; MyCoffs is an overarching plan which sets out the long term aspirations for the Coffs Harbour Local Government Area (LGA), prioritising community wellbeing, prosperity, place and sustainable community leadership; and Creative Coffs explores the arts and cultural ecology of the Coffs Harbour area, noting in particular that the Coffs Harbour City Council is the principal provider of cultural facilities to the community, and that space and storage restrictions are limiting factors for the current library, museum and gallery (pp 12-19).

    Between January 2018 to April 2018, a comprehensive stakeholder and community engagement consultation and information campaign asked stakeholders for feedback on three separate concept designs for a cultural and civic space. See report here

    BVN Architecture, the firm which created the schematic design for the Cultural and Civic Space, worked with identified internal and external stakeholders to provide targeted input to further inform the design from February to June 2019 (see report here), as well as incorporating the feedback and comments on the Preliminary Schematic Design plans from the previous community consultation in 2018.

    What work has been done on the $75,000 City Hill resolution?

    At the 11th May 2017 Council meeting Council resolved to allocate $75,000 to undertake studies, concept designs, and preliminary budgets associated with the cultural development at City Hill. The same Council resolution determined the scope of the co-located library, regional gallery, customer service area, Council Chambers and Council staff office accommodation within the CBD.

    The first study involved stakeholder consultations completed by Max Hardy Consulting.  The purpose of this was to understand stakeholder plans and aspirations for the City Hill site.  These consultations highlighted varied and conflicting views on what cultural development could and should be considered by Council.  However, one idea put forward was for Council to assist with resourcing to develop plans to add another level to the National Cartoon Gallery on City Hill.  In August 2018, Council resolved to commit $110,000 and the National Cartoon Gallery successfully secured approximately $2.6mn State Government funding through the Regional Cultural Fund Round 2 in March 2019.

    During 2018/19 work continued on two related projects – 1) Community Facilities Planning for future community and cultural infrastructure across the Local Government Area and 2) Performing Arts Space Issues and Options – (indoor and outdoor spaces).

    The second study is a Site Analysis of the City Hill site undertaken by Locale – a local town planning consultancy. The Site Analysis will outline the history of development and planning as well as provide current environmental, zoning, policy and other town planning considerations, challenges and opportunities.

    A Council report that includes the Site Analysis and options for next steps for Council to consider is targeted for December 2019. 

    The remaining budget for the City Hill resolution project 2019/20 as at November 2019 is $56,726.

    Why put the library, gallery, and community and Council services together?

    Cultural Spaces

    Contemporary libraries and galleries have a number of features in common in particular:

    • A digital design studio for audio and visual creations such as personal histories, music recording or games

    • Workshop and maker-spaces

    • Meeting and study rooms

    • Staff areas – especially useful as the same staff often work across all cultural facilities

    • Storage spaces

    • Specialist library materials

    • Toilets, parents’ rooms and other public amenities

    This development means that these facilities can be combined making it much more cost-effective than managing a number of separate buildings.

    Co-located facilities also increase the potential for wider audiences to take part in cultural events and programmes.

    Council Administration and Services

    The inclusion of Council administration and services:

    • Enhances productivity by bringing Council staff together

    • Allows the proposed sale of two existing buildings to help pay for the new facility

    • Central and convenient access for residents to Council counter services

    • Allows a multi-purpose events space to be included in the project. It could be used by up to 200 people for events/seminars/talks/performances, as well as for Council meetings

    • As part of Council’s continuous improvement programme, improved productivity and cost-effectiveness is being looked at across the organisation. Consolidating staff into one building has been identified as a cost saving and productivity benefit.

    How much will it cost and how will it be funded?

    Funding for the project will be sourced from three different sources.

    1. The first is through the utilisation of the T2S Reserve for a total of $10.5 million.
    2. The second is through the sale of four properties being Rigby House, the Castle Street Administration Building, the Rose Avenue Commercial Offices and the Museum.  Independent valuations place the combined value of these buildings at $20.54 million.
    3. The third funding source is loan borrowings. To complete the $76.52 million construction project the Council would need to borrow approximately $46 million.

    Grant funding:

    At this time, the modeling has not included the inclusion of any grant funding. Should the project receive any grant funding, then this grant funding would reduce the amount of the proposed borrowing. Council be be actively applying for grant funding.

    The Council is well within the Debt Service Ratio target as set by the Office of Local Government and the additional borrowing outlined within the report would still leave the Council within the target.

    During the construction period of the building, the financial model does show an increase in cash flow requirements due increased operational costs around the rent required to be paid for current buildings after their sale and debt servicing. For this reason, in the 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years the money usually allocated to the T2S reserve will be required to be utilised on other capital works within the community. The allocation into the T2S reserve would recommence in the 2022/23 financial year.

    Note: The T2S Reserve is a direct result of money that has been reserved for future purposes from the savings that the Council generated on an annual basis from undertaking the Transformation to Sustainability (T2S) program from 2014 to 2017. The Council currently reserves $3.2million per annum in the general fund for the T2S Reserve.


    When will it open?

    Planning indicates that commencement of construction early works could be early 2021 with the facility operational in 2023.

    Have other regional cities taken a similar approach?

    Yes.  We are inspired by the achievements of other comparable communities in regional Australia.

    In 2016, Albury City Council (LGA population: 51,000) opened Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA). It is the centrepiece of their CBD cultural precinct which also includes their Library and Museum. MAMA features a stunning 24-hour 'art skin', interactive workshops and immersive cultural experiences.

    Late in 2017, Shellharbour City Council (LGA population: 68,000) completed their Civic Centre and moved into their new facilities which include a museum, library and council administration:

    The Moreton Bay Regional Council operates the Caboolture Hub which houses the library, learning and business centre, Regional Gallery, and creative studios. The population of Caboolture is 60,000 and is part of a larger regional LGA.

    How will it benefit the Coffs economy?

    As part of the Concept Business Case a cost benefit analysis (economic assessment) was undertaken.  Click here to view the full report.

    The project delivers substantial benefits.  An independent economic assessment identified a host of benefits including a variety of financial benefits over a 30 year period totalling $57m, 31 on-going jobs, an extra $2m per annum Gross Regional Product and a benefit cost ratio (BCR) of 1.04.

    A range of cultural benefits will flow from the development including a vibrant cultural hub, improved lifelong learning, increased visitor numbers and a variety of cultural facilities and spaces that don’t exist today.  There will be increased exhibition space and programs to celebrate our Aboriginal and diverse cultural heritage.

    Civic benefits include improvements to customer services, customer convenience, staff coherence and Council’s ability to attract and retain staff.  The sale of existing Council administration sites will facilitate site redevelopment to support strategic plans for Coffs Harbour and the new facility will send a strong message to the business community that this is a strong and developing regional City.

    The project will also enable activation of the 2 Castle St site in line with the 2031 City Centre Master Plan.

    In Australia and globally, cultural tourism is growing at a faster rate than tourism overall, a rate of about 15% per year. Both international and domestic tourists who engage in a cultural or heritage activity tend to make longer visits than other tourists, which helps grow the economy of the places they visit.

    To find more details on the benefits of Cultural Facilities please read the Creative Coffs – Cultural Strategic Plan or view the latest Arts 2025 Summit pack for the latest sector overview and future trends. 

    Who is working on the project?

    The elected Council has resolved to move to the detailed design and construct stage for the Cultural and Civic Space at the 11 July 2019 meeting.  

    Their deliberations are informed by the work of a project board and team of Council officers and external consultants. The internal team members have expertise in project management, urban design and planning, cultural services, financial management, engineering and property services.

    This team has been working together since 2016.

    In addition to various periods of intensive community engagement, there is ongoing consultation through the Library and Gallery Planning Advisory Group (LGPAG). This group consists of six community members and three Councillors. The three Councillors currently on LGPAG are:

    • Mayor, Cr Denise Knight; 

    • Cr Sally Townley;

    • Cr Tegan Swan

    Will the central library still be called the Harry Bailey Memorial Library?

    Yes. The Library area of the new facility will still carry the Harry Bailey Memorial Library name as endorsed by Council. 

    The name for the entire facility, other components and precinct is yet to be determined.

    What plans are there for a performance or entertainment venue project?

    The final Issues and Options Paper (interim findings) for Performing Arts Spaces ( Indoor and Outdoor) was adopted by Council on 10 September 2020. 

    The key finding from this Paper is that there is an established need and community support to construct an Indoor Performing Arts Centre with a capacity between 600-1000 seats. This sized venue is considered viable to attract and accommodate a larger range of touring acts and performances, hold special local performances and provide reasonable economic returns. At this Meeting, Councillors agreed to undertake a separate project now called the ‘Coffs Harbour Entertainment Venue Scoping Study’ project to scope the exact venue requirements and determine the most suitable location within the City Centre.

    More information about entertainment venue projects and community and cultural facility planning  can be found here: https://haveyoursay.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/entertainmentvenue1 or https://haveyoursay.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/communityfacilitiesplanning or by contacting creativecoffs@chcc.nsw.gov.au(External link).

    I still wish to find out more. Who do I contact?

    We would be happy to discuss the project further.

    Please contact Ken Welham, Strategic Projects Officer, Coffs Harbour City Council at ken.welham@chcc.nsw.gov.au or Sara Runciman, Projects Officer, Coffs Harbour City Council at ccsproject@chcc.nsw.gov.au, or call them on 02 6648 4000.

    Is this project going to be too big for Council to manage?

    No. Coffs Harbour City Council has successfully managed projects significantly larger than the Cultural and Civic Space Project; this will be no different.

    What is the NSW State Library Public Library Infrastructure Grant to be used for?

    In June 2020, Coffs Harbour City Council received a $500,000 Public Library Infrastructure Grant (PLIG) from the NSW State Library to be used for the internal fit-out and furniture for the new Central library in the Cultural and Civic Space building.

    The PLIG program is for projects that will assist NSW councils to improve public library infrastructure, including buildings and information technology systems. Funds are directed to projects that provide significant public benefit and develop improved public library services for NSW communities.

    Is the fit out cost for the new building included in the total building budget?

    Yes, the fit out cost for the new building is included in the project budget.

    Did Council consult with the community on the Cultural and Civic Space Project?

    Yes. Council has provided multiple engagement opportunities. Information on this project has been communicated on our website, within Council rates notices, via Council's Facebook page, in project update newsletters, via advertisements, on posters, at community events, on digital screens and within media coverage.

    What was the process to choose 23 - 31 Gordon St as the proposed site for the Cultural and Civic Space Project?


    City Centre Masterplan 2031 adopted by Council - outlines a vision to inspire: to create a place where economic, social and cultural pursuits fuse to enrich and enliven all who live, work and visit the City.  The plan identified a number of projects and key strategic sites to be targeted to deliver new cultural, entertainment and civic buildings in the CBD. 


    An extensive community engagement process in late 2014 for improved cultural facilities identified support for the provision of cultural facilities. In November 2015 Council resolved to proceed with the research and planning for a new central library and regional gallery.


    Community consultation commenced around the needs and requirements for a new central library and gallery alongside the development of a new Cultural Strategic Plan. A Library and Gallery Planning Advisory Group (LGPAG) and Council project team were formed and undertook an assessment of eleven sites for the concept planning and detailed research for a new central library and regional gallery in the City Centre Masterplan area.  An analysis of the top three ranked sites was undertaken via selection criteria, site visits and advice from professional staff recommended the 23-31 Gordon Street, Coffs Harbour site for the project.


    Council resolved unanimously to endorse 23-31 Gordon Street site and to undertake a detailed precinct analysis and to investigate mixed and civic use of the site (in addition to the library and gallery) in order to maximise utilisation of the site, urban renewal and activation outcomes consistent with the City Centre Masterplan 2031.


    In May 2017, Council endorsed the Precinct Analysis, Cultural and Civic Space project scope and budget to undertake project management, architectural services and community consultation to progress through the Concept Design Phase.  The scope included a library and gallery (and investigation of museum), Council customer service, offices and a multipurpose space to be used as a Chambers, cultural and community functions.

    June 2018

    Council undertook an extensive community consultation process to obtain feedback from the community and staff around key features and components for 3 concept designs.  In June 2018 Council resolved to proceed with project (including the museum in the scope) to the next Schematic design phase and to expedite the project.

    September 2018

    In September 2018 Council resolved to confirm the procurement and project approach that will expedite the project and allocated a further $1.5million to fast track the design processes.

    July 2019

    Council resolved to progress the Cultural and Civic Space project by:

    1. Allocating full project funding of $76.52
    2. Lodging a development application
    3. Disposing of the nominated properties
    4. Procuring the build through a two stage design and construct contract

    Will building the new Cultural & Civic Space mean other projects will be delayed?

    No. Coffs Harbour City Council undertakes long term planning and diligent management of all projects to ensure planned projects can be delivered.

    Why isn’t the new Cultural and Civic Space being built on or at City Hill?

    For more information on City Hill, please visit the City Hill Analysis and Scoping Have Your Say page for more information, including:

    • Context and site history
    • City Hill Scoping project
    • Scope of future planning 
    • Document library

    If council properties are being sold, but the new Cultural & Civic Space is still almost three years away – what will happen to facilities like the Coffs Harbour Regional Museum in the meantime?

    A condition of sale will be that Council leases back the sites until the new Cultural and Civic Centre Space is complete.

    What will happen to the Museum? It has so much history!

    The current Museum is planned to be sold as part of the asset rationalisation to assist in funding the new Cultural and Civic Space Project. The Museum site at Harbour Drive is Heritage listed under the provisions of Coffs Harbour Local Environmental Plan 2013. Any future owners would be required to work closely with Council in order to preserve the heritage aspects of this site.

    Who were the Architects for Schematic design for the building?

    BVN Architecture are the Architects for this project and will continue in this role until the project is complete. 

    Why did the project estimate increase from $36 million to $76.5 million?

    The 2016 figure of $36 million was an estimate based on the anticipated size of the Cultural and Civic Centre and was provided before formal design work was undertaken. The scope of the 2016 estimate included the Harry Bailey Memorial library, co-working space, Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, Council customer service, Council offices and Council chamber.

    In the period between the development of the 2016 estimate and Council’s resolution to adopt a $76.5 million budget on 11 June 2018 the project evolved significantly:

    The size of areas already in the scope was increased, and the Coffs Harbour Regional Museum was included in the scope;

    Three concepts for community input were developed, with various adaptations to the scope

    Construction material and labour costs increased via CPI and other drivers between 2016 and 2018;

    An escalation allowance from 2018 to 2021 dollars was included (i.e. the annual cost escalation between the time at which the updated estimate was made in 2018 and when the project construction will be paid for across 2020 and 2021)

    Five per cent design contingency and 10 per cent construction contingency as a safety margin to cater for unforeseen issues

    Over the last year, schematic design has been undertaken and the cost estimate updated accordingly by professional, registered quantity surveyors. The cost estimate remains within the $76.5 million budget.

    Will this be another "Glasshouse"?

    This project is not another Glasshouse at Port Macquarie. The purpose of the building is very different as it consists of a Library, Museum and Regional Gallery. The Council Civic functions and administration offices will also be included. This building is not a theatre or performance studio.

    The building has a set budget of $76.5 million and all design and contractor components are progressing within that budget allocation. The project has progressed through the Concept Stage and Schematic Design Stage, with both stages delivered on time and within budget. 

    Council is working with an external Project Manager and Cost Manager so that the building meets the scope and budget requirements within the allocated funding amount.

    Will the First Order Optic (Lighthouse) be included in the building?

    The long-term home of the nationally important South Solitary Island Lighthouse Optic (SSILO) should be at the harbour in sight of the ocean, according to an independent report by conservation experts commissioned by Coffs Harbour City Council.

    Council commissioned International Conservation Services (ICS) and Story Inc. to undertake consultation with stakeholders, including the local Friends of South Solitary Island Lighthouse (FOSSIL), and develop a management plan.

    Consideration was given to placing the optic into the new Cultural and Civic Space as a temporary measure. But with the NSW Government’s proposal to revitalise the Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshore – and include a cultural attraction – it was strongly recommended that the optic be included in discussions by the Jetty Foreshore Project Advisory Steering Committee.

    Councillors have agreed to advocate for the inclusion of the South Solitary Island Lighthouse Optic in future plans for the Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshores precinct, so it can be put on public display as an attraction for residents and visitors.

    Why isn’t there a covered walkway from the Castle St Carpark?

    Castle Street Car Park sits across Riding Lane from the new building site. Options are being considered as to how best link pedestrian access from the car park to the building. Initial investigations for an air bridge have proved difficult with significant differences in floor heights between the buildings.  This height difference, along with tree canopy in the air space between the two buildings has meant that the air bridge is not a functional option for connectivity between the car park and the building. 

    What about the land swap and demolishing the old Civic Centre/Town Hall?

    In 1990 the Federal Government offered to fund a new university in Coffs Harbour if suitable land was provided at no cost.  Suitable land identified that was owned by the Coffs Harbour Ex-Services Club (the Club).  Council owned the Civic Centre/Town Hall and land adjacent to the Club in the City Centre.

    A property swap was arranged in 1991 that involved Council, the Club and both State and Federal Governments to facilitate the provision of the land for a unique partnership between Southern Cross University, TAFE NSW and the NSW Department of Education (Coffs Harbour Senior College.)  Opened in 1995, the development is called the Coffs Harbour Education Campus (CHEC).  The campus was built with the ‘D Block’ Theatre (seating capacity of 500) and more recently ‘O’ Block Theatre for the purpose of lectures, events and performances.

    The Civic Centre/Town Hall was demolished in 1996.  The Club expanded their auditorium (Grand auditorium seating capacity of 1000) to provide a venue to cater for the large entertainment events previously held in the Civic Centre/Town Hall.

    It appears that there was no Council resolution to ‘rebuild the town hall/civic centre’.   Council records show that over time several concept plans have been developed for performing arts infrastructure at different locations, however, none have progressed to the construction phase.

    Other more recent initiatives include:

    ·  In 2003, Council refurbished the Jetty Memorial Theatre to offer a high quality performing arts space (seating capacity 252).


    ·  In 2009, the Cavanbah Centre, a multipurpose space (seating capacity 200) was redeveloped.

    ·  In 2018 Council applied for and secured a grant through the State Government Stronger Communities Program that has funded Phase 1 of D Block Theatre upgrades planned by CHEC. 

    ·  In 2019 a concept design was progressed for a Jetty Memorial Theatre extension project in preparation for future grant opportunities.  If funded, this project would provide additional rehearsal, community and parking spaces.

    ·  In 2019 the Coffs C.ex Club also announced it has plans to further develop its current CBD site to include a performing arts space. 

    ·  Research and sector consultations have informed the development of an Issues and Options for Performing Arts Spaces (indoor and outdoor) report to assist cultural infrastructure facility planning .  An interim report for Council’s consideration of next steps is targeted for late 2019.