Why is a new indoor entertainment venue being considered for Coffs Harbour?

    Council supports the development of Coffs Harbour's cultural and creative sector and recognises the role of cultural infrastructure in making this happen.

    Whilst there has been community support for an entertainment venue for Coffs Harbour, there has been variance about the venue’s size, functions and location.

    Coffs Harbour is missing out on a range of touring acts, concerts and shows as it doesn't have an indoor entertainment venue with proper standards of seating, lighting and sound to attract and cater for such performances.

    A larger sized venue will also benefit local community performances such as Eisteddfods, dance and school performances; and support the growth of Coffs Harbour's creative industry, whilst complementing its existing venues.

    Council is committed to undertaking a scoping study to accurately define an entertainment venue in the City Centre that will deliver the best outcomes for the Coffs Harbour region. This Study will also provide recommendations about constructing and operating this type of venue.

    More information about the benefits of an entertainment venue is included on page 12 of the Issues and Options Paper.

    What will the Scoping Study assess?

    A scoping (or feasibility) study will define the venue functions, location and costs, specifically:

    • Accurately scope the venue requirements, seating numbers, facility components and size into an architectural or "Functional Brief";
    • Review relevant sites and determine the most suitable location within Coffs Harbour City Centre;
    • Estimate the capital cost of the most appropriate site, operating model and ongoing operating costs; 
    • Recommend the most appropriate method to fund the project.

    Having more accurate information about the venue construction costs and an operating model will assist Council in terms of decisions about the next steps to progress this project.

    How is the Scoping Study process being undertaken?

    A multi-disciplinary project team including Hawkridge Entertainment Services, Locale Consulting and architects Scott Carver have been appointed by Council to deliver the Scoping Study.

    The first stage in the Scoping Study is to consult with industry stakeholders across NSW and the region.

    The consultation will focus on venue requirements, functions, seating numbers (between 600-1000 seats) and size; analyse City Centre sites and investigate costs delivery and operating models.

    What are the outcomes of the Scoping Study?

    The key outcomes of the Scoping Study will be a defined entertainment venue, the identification of a preferred site, including operating model, costs and delivery.

    The Scoping Study will also consider outcomes of community and stakeholder consultation. 

    It should be noted that the completion of this Study is not a commitment to the implementation of further works.  Should a new entertainment venue project proceed, it is estimated that it would take at least 6 years to plan, design, and commission and construct a new venue.  

    How can the public provide input or feedback into the Scoping Study?

    The first stage of the project will involve targeted stakeholders in the development of the Functional Brief throughout 2021. 

    This will allow Council to provide the community with as much information as possible before asking for any further public comment. 

    Council will update information about the progress of the Scoping Study and various project stages on this page towards mid - late 2021. This page will act as a platform to include key information and opportunities for community participation.

    What sites are being considered for the new indoor entertainment venue?

    The City Centre Masterplan 2031 identifies the Study Area scope and potential strategic sites within the City Centre.    

    Sites within the City Centre Masterplan 2031 area will  be assessed using the Functional Brief requirements and footprint.

    Sites will be tested on a range of criteria (e.g. site size, urban planning, co-location opportunities, access to parking, and urban context) and venue industry benchmarks (e.g. loading dock access and public accessibility).

    The most appropriate site for a new indoor entertainment venue will be based on how the site meets these criteria, including regional cultural economic and tourism benefits.

    What is a Preliminary Functional Venue Brief?

    The 'Functional Brief' will determine in detail the venue’s overall size, number of seats, the auditorium size, relationship to the Back of House and Front of House and other technical requirements or additional functions ( such as Rehearsal Rooms).

    A Functional Brief (including the size of the footprint required) is necessary to inform how the venue can be developed within the most appropriate location. 

    What is the City Centre Masterplan?

    The City Centre Masterplan 2031 maps the future for the Coffs Harbour City Centre.  The Masterplan identifies potential strategic sites with the City Centre that relate to entertainment infrastructure. 

    The Scoping Study will consider sites that are located within the City Centre Masterplan 2031 area.  


    What are the factors in the successful location of an indoor entertainment venue?

    The following factors are sourced from “Oh You Beautiful Stage” – Australian Design and Technical Benchmarks for Performing Arts Centres by the Victorian Association of Performing Arts Centres.

    • Excellent access with suitable loading movements for trucks up to semi-trailers, in positions they can stand for several hours; 
    • An area considered safe day and night;
    • Generous nearby car parking (but preferably not dominated or surrounded by car parking);
    • Very high visibility and marketing presence, with an appearance of activity and ambience expressing fun and entertainment;
    • High passing foot traffic to attract ease of booking and familiarity;
    • Nearby or immersed in both day and night-life activities such as restaurants, bookshops, music shops and cinema;
    • Excellent nearby public transport, day and night.

    This information is included on page 60 of the Issues and Options Paper.

    What is the history of this project?

    In November 2015 Council resolved to develop a Cultural Strategic Plan 2017-2022 (Stage 1) and then undertake a (Stage 2) Feasibility and Cost Benefit Assessment of a Performing Arts Centre for the Coffs Harbour area.

    In 2016 the Cultural Policy and Cultural Strategic Plan 2017-2022 were developed and adopted by Council in February 2017. 

    It became apparent through Stage 1 of the planning process that Stage 2 had to be broken down into two parts, being Stage 2(a) and Stage 2(b). 

    Stage 2 (a) - Needs Analysis 

    The Issues and Options - Performing Arts Spaces scope endorsed by Council was to include:

    • Needs analysis, size and purpose
    • High level costs and benefits
    • Explore options for Public Private Partnerships
    • Assess existing venues for expansion and redevelopment opportunities.

    In 2018, the scope of Stage 2(a) was expanded to include outdoor performing arts space as an output from the City Hill scoping process for cultural development.

    Hawkridge Entertainment Services were engaged by Council to prepare the Issues and Options Analysis for Performing Arts Spaces (Indoor and Outdoor).  Interviews with approximately 30 organisations and individuals who hire venues across the Coffs Harbour LGA for performing arts activities were undertaken.

    The Interim findings report was considered by Council at the 12 December 2019 meeting and placed on exhibition for public comment and input from 18 December 2019-28th February 2020.

    Stage 2 (b) - Scoping Study 

    The Issues and Options Paper recommends that Council commences a Stage 2(b) Study for an Indoor Performing Arts Centre to:

    • Accurately scope the performing arts centre requirements and facility components;
    • Review relevant sites and determine the most suitable location within Coffs Harbour City Centre;
    • Determine the subsequent capital cost of the chosen site, operating model and ongoing operating costs.

    Council endorsed the recommendations outlined in the final Issues and Options Paper for Performing Arts Spaces (Indoor and Outdoor) at its 10 September 2020 Meeting.

    A more detailed history is included in the Issues and Options Paper - Appendix 1 'Historical Timeline'.

    Is this project linked to the Cultural and Civic Space?

    This is a separate project to the Cultural and Civic Space project. 

    The entertainment venue Scoping Study complements the provision of cultural infrastructure across the City Centre for the broader Coffs Harbour region.

    The Cultural and Civic Space development will house larger and improved cultural facilities, including the library, gallery and museum.

    What about outdoor spaces?

    This project will not be addressing outdoor performance or entertainment spaces.

    The Issues and Options Paper recommended there is an appropriate provision of venues around the Coffs Harbour LGA available for outdoor performance and entertainment events. No single site is prioritised, as each site has its own uniqueness and set of offerings. This is particularly important for commercial festivals and events, as each promoter has their own set of requirements and provides their own technical infrastructure. 

    More information about outdoor spaces is included on page 10 of the Issues and Options Paper.