The Cultural & Civic Space - for the Heart of Coffs

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The Cultural and Civic Space will be a central hub for residents and visitors in Coffs Harbour. The development will house larger and improved cultural facilities including the library, gallery and museum.
This welcoming and multipurpose space will also include Council offices and chambers, as well as co-working and event spaces for community hire and use.
The Cultural and Civic Space will become the Heart of Coffs Harbour as our city centre continues to develop and improve, to meet the demands of our increasing population of residents and visitors.

PROJECT TIMELINE

In 2016 Council unanimously endorsed the Gordon Street site as the preferred location for the new library and gallery and resolved to undertake a detailed precinct analysis, consider the inclusion of the regional museum and to investigate mixed and civic uses for this site in order maximise the location.

In 2017 Council endorsed Creative Coffs – Cultural Strategic Plan and the Precinct Analysis to progress through to the concept design phase. At this stage, the Council offices were included in the scope.

Between December 2017 and March 2018, a comprehensive stakeholder and community engagement consultation and information campaign asked stakeholders for feedback on three separate concept designs.

At the June 2018 Council Meeting the report detailing the Concept Business Case and outcome of the community engagement on the three concept designs - to identify key features that people wanted incorporated in the new building - was endorsed to progress to the next stage; a single schematic design. At this point, the Regional Museum was also included in the project.

In early 2019, broad community engagement was undertaken on the preliminary schematic design created by BVN Architecture.

The outcomes of the consultation were incorporated into the final schematic design report which was presented to Council in July 2019.

The 25 July Council Meeting was adjourned until 8 August 2019.

At the 8 August Council Meeting the Councillors resolved to proceed with the Cultural and Civic Space Project by: 1. Allocating full project funding of $76.52 million, 2. Lodging a development application, 3. Disposing of the nominated properties 4. Procuring the build through a two stage design and construct contract.

At the 13 February Council Meeting, the Councillors approved the tenders for Project Manager, Head Design Consultant and Cost Manager. The demolition DA for 23-31 Gordon Street was also approved.

As a result of this decision, and the appointment of these key contracts, the detailed design phase of the Cultural and Civic Space project officially began.

Coming soon: 50% Design Development Report and result of the State Significant Development Application (SSDA)


The Cultural and Civic Space will be a central hub for residents and visitors in Coffs Harbour. The development will house larger and improved cultural facilities including the library, gallery and museum.
This welcoming and multipurpose space will also include Council offices and chambers, as well as co-working and event spaces for community hire and use.
The Cultural and Civic Space will become the Heart of Coffs Harbour as our city centre continues to develop and improve, to meet the demands of our increasing population of residents and visitors.

PROJECT TIMELINE

In 2016 Council unanimously endorsed the Gordon Street site as the preferred location for the new library and gallery and resolved to undertake a detailed precinct analysis, consider the inclusion of the regional museum and to investigate mixed and civic uses for this site in order maximise the location.

In 2017 Council endorsed Creative Coffs – Cultural Strategic Plan and the Precinct Analysis to progress through to the concept design phase. At this stage, the Council offices were included in the scope.

Between December 2017 and March 2018, a comprehensive stakeholder and community engagement consultation and information campaign asked stakeholders for feedback on three separate concept designs.

At the June 2018 Council Meeting the report detailing the Concept Business Case and outcome of the community engagement on the three concept designs - to identify key features that people wanted incorporated in the new building - was endorsed to progress to the next stage; a single schematic design. At this point, the Regional Museum was also included in the project.

In early 2019, broad community engagement was undertaken on the preliminary schematic design created by BVN Architecture.

The outcomes of the consultation were incorporated into the final schematic design report which was presented to Council in July 2019.

The 25 July Council Meeting was adjourned until 8 August 2019.

At the 8 August Council Meeting the Councillors resolved to proceed with the Cultural and Civic Space Project by: 1. Allocating full project funding of $76.52 million, 2. Lodging a development application, 3. Disposing of the nominated properties 4. Procuring the build through a two stage design and construct contract.

At the 13 February Council Meeting, the Councillors approved the tenders for Project Manager, Head Design Consultant and Cost Manager. The demolition DA for 23-31 Gordon Street was also approved.

As a result of this decision, and the appointment of these key contracts, the detailed design phase of the Cultural and Civic Space project officially began.

Coming soon: 50% Design Development Report and result of the State Significant Development Application (SSDA)


  • NSW Minister for Local Government response to petition

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    09 June, 2020
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    NSW Minister for Local Government’s response following the tabling of petition:

    Have you seen the NSW Minister for Local Government’s response following the tabling of petition by Gurmesh Singh MP in the NSW Parliament regarding the Cultural and Civic Space Project? You can read it here:

    https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/tp/files/76669/Govn%20response%20to%2010000%20signature%20petition%20on%20Coffs%20Harbour%20Cultural%20and%20Civic%20Space%20Project.pdf

  • Cultural and Civic Space e-newsletter January 21 2020

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    21 January, 2020
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    Welcome to the New Year! We hope you all had a safe and merry festive season. Our thoughts are very much with those in our community who were affected by the recent bushfires and those in the areas still under threat or recovering from this alarming fire season.

    The Cultural and Civic Space project team are very much looking forward to 2020 and continuing to share relevant and timely information with you about this community project.


  • Cultural and Civic Space e-newsletter November 4th 2019

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    17 January, 2020
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    Council offices and chambers and an endorsement from Archibald Prize winning artist

    This week’s project update includes a link to Mayor Denise Knight discussing the council office inclusion in the Cultural and Civic Space on Triple M radio in June 2018, as well the most frequently asked questions from Facebook and an endorsement from one of Australia’s most celebrated artists.


  • Cultural and Civic Space e-newsletter October 28th 2019

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    17 January, 2020
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    TOP FAQs from Facebook and NSW Minister for Local Government response to petition

    This week’s project update includes the last call for submissions on the development application on the NSW Government’s website, the most frequently asked questions from Facebook and the response from the Minister for Local Government on the tabled petition.


  • Cultural and Civic Space e-newsletter October 21st 2019

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    17 January, 2020
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    Cultural and Civic Space Update

    Thank you to all of those people within the Coffs Harbour community who have used the new Heart of Coffs website and Facebook page to learn more about the Cultural and Civic Space and participate in constructive discussion.


  • Cultural and Civic Space e-newsletter October 16th 2019

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    17 January, 2020
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    Welcome to the first edition of the Coffs Harbour Cultural and Civic Space project e-newsletter.

    This newsletter is designed to provide updates and information to the Coffs community on the Cultural and Civic Space. Each edition will also feature some common FAQs as well as a project update.


  • Cultural & Civic Space Project – Adjournment of Council Meeting 25th July

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    26 July, 2019

    At 6.29 pm during the conduct of Council’s meeting on the 25th July, four of the eight Councillors present left the Council Chambers effectively leaving Council without a quorum. In accordance with clause 5.11 of Council’s Code of Meeting Practice, the Mayor announced the lack of a quorum and adjourned the meeting for thirty minutes.

    At 6.59pm the Mayor reconvened the meeting and at that stage four Councillors were present in the Council Chambers. The Mayor in announcing the reconvening of the meeting then made an announcement to ascertain whether any other Councillors were in the vicinity of the Council Chambers and wished to re-join the meeting. No other Councillors responded.

    Given the continued lack of quorum for the meeting, the Mayor gave due regard to clause 5.12 of Council’s Code of Meeting Practice which states:

    5.12 In either case, the meeting must be adjourned to a time, date and place fixed:

    (a) by the chairperson, or

    (b) in the chairperson’s absence, by the majority of the councillors present, or

    (c) failing that, by the general manager.

    Obviously, clause 5.12(a) of the Code of Meeting Practice provides for the Mayor to adjourn the meeting to a time, date and place of the Mayor’s choosing. The meeting was formally adjourned to 11.00am on the 26th July. At 11.00am only four Councillors were present in the Chambers, the meeting was adjourned for 30 minutes. This meant there was a continued lack of a quorum.

    In this regard, Council’s Ordinary Meeting which commenced at 5.00pm 25 July 2019 has now been formally adjourned to 5.00pm on the 8th August 2019 in the Coffs Harbour City Council Chambers at the corner of Coffs and Castle Streets, Coffs Harbour.

    At 6.29 pm during the conduct of Council’s meeting last night, four of the eight Councillors present left the Council Chambers effectively leaving Council without a quorum. In accordance with clause 5.11 of Council’s Code of Meeting Practice, the Mayor announced the lack of a quorum and adjourned the meeting for thirty minutes.

    At 6.59pm the Mayor reconvened the meeting and at that stage four Councillors were present in the Council Chambers. The Mayor in announcing the reconvening of the meeting then made an announcement to ascertain whether any other Councillors were in the vicinity of the Council Chambers and wished to re-join the meeting. No other Councillors responded.

    Given the continued lack of quorum for the meeting, the Mayor gave due regard to clause 5.12 of Council’s Code of Meeting Practice which states:

    5.12 In either case, the meeting must be adjourned to a time, date and place fixed:

    (a) by the chairperson, or

    (b) in the chairperson’s absence, by the majority of the councillors present, or

    (c) failing that, by the general manager.

    Obviously, clause 5.12(a) of the Code of Meeting Practice provides for the Mayor to adjourn the meeting to a time, date and place of the Mayor’s choosing. The meeting was formally adjourned to 11.00am today. At 11.00am 26 July 2019, only four Councillors were present in the Chambers, the meeting was adjourned for 30 minutes. This meant there was a continued lack of a quorum.

    In this regard, Council’s Ordinary Meeting which commenced at 5.00pm 25 July 2019 has now been formally adjourned to 5.00pm on the 8th August 2019 in the Coffs Harbour City Council Chambers at the corner of Coffs and Castle Streets, Coffs Harbour.


  • CULTURAL AND CIVIC SPACE PROJECT - RESULTS OF COUNCIL MEETING 11th JULY

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    12 July, 2019
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    After considerable discussion on the item at the meeting, ultimately Council passed a Resolution that effectively adopted the recommendation in the Report before Council to progress the Project.

    Immediately following the meeting, a Rescission Motion signed by 3 Councillors was handed to me. The effect of a Rescission Motion is to place the adopted Resolution on hold pending Council’s consideration of the Rescission Motion. At this stage, it is expected that the Rescission Motion will be considered by Council at its meeting on 25 July 2019.

    For the moment, the Project is effectively on hold until the Rescission Motion is formally considered.




  • Misunderstandings over Cultural and Civic Space

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    10 July, 2019
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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.


  • Council Agenda and Papers released for July 11 Meeting

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    05 July, 2019
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    Council will consider further information, reports, options and recommendations for the progression of the Cultural and Civic Space project at the Council meeting next Thursday 11th July.

    The Agenda and Papers for the meeting are now publicly available here.

    The council meeting starts at 5 pm at the Council Chambers. The meeting is open to the public and all are welcome to attend.