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Submission for: Coffs Harbour Cultural and Civic Space


Fran Stephenson

COFFS HARBOUR, New South Wales


I would like to lodge my very strong objection to the proposed development by Coffs Harbour City Council Application No. SSD-10300.
The many reasons for my objection are as follows:
Location – New building is planned for a very congested area in our CBD surrounded by very average to poor buildings which are in total contrast with the look of the proposed building. This does not provide a pleasant outlook for such an important building within our CBD and the site is lacking in space and parking. It therefore does not offer room for growth in line with our community needs in the future.
A more preferable large green field site exists just 2 minutes by car from the proposed site which is in a busy passing traffic area with existing public transport in place. It is therefore central for a large proportion of our community to visit.
This preferred site is a spade ready, high-visibility site which will offer good views from the proposed building, plenty of parking options, an opportunity for an even larger mix of cultural facilities and room for future growth. This suggested area of land known locally as ‘City Hill’ was granted to the Coffs Harbour community by the Federal Government for ‘cultural use’.
Council Chambers inclusion - The proposed development includes new Council Chambers. Our existing Council Chamber building is a good solid building in an acceptable CBD location which was built to enable future growth. It has the structural ability to be extended by the addition of more floors.
Parking – This proposed development plans to amalgamate facilities currently located in six different locations, along with its workers and visitors, into the one building and only create 75 new parking spaces. An existing adjacent, unattractive multi-level carpark is intended to provide the bulk of parking needed. This proposed development which is described as a way to revitalise our city centre will not achieve this instead it will further exacerbate our existing parking woes and without parking a CBD cannot function or grow.
Improvement to Coffs Harbours’ cultural facilities – This proposed development does not give the people of Coffs Harbour anything new for the proposed cost of $76.52m. This proposed development simply relocates existing facilities a few hundred metres around the corner and in some cases actually lessens the space provided in each facility.
Lack of Performing Arts Facility – Our Coffs Harbour community lost its Civic Centre which provided the City’s performing arts space, in 1989 in a land swap between the Council and the then Ex Services Club. This facility has never been replaced. Our city is crying out for a Performing Arts Facility. The new proposed Civic/Cultural Centre building does not provide the community with the much needed performing arts space.
Sale of existing assets – Four existing community assets are to be sold off to fund one. Council have stated that these existing assets will possibly be sold at up to 10% less than market value – why? And in the case of the existing Historic Museum, a heritage listed building which cost the community in excess of $1.7m to acquire, restore and fit-out, will be sold at a substantial lost to the community. Again one must ask why?
Cost – The proposed cost of the development at $76.52m, which will most likely ‘blow out’ will simply move existing facilities a few hundred metres around the corner. This does not represent good value for money for our community. We have other more pressing needs within our community requiring funding.
Public disapproval – Over 15,000 Coffs Harbour residents and half of our Councillors have expressed their concern and opposition to this proposal. We should be listened to by Coffs Harbour Council and State Government.
Flawed Voting Process – There is a strong and real belief within the community that the Council process leading up to the approval of this development was flawed and not in the best interests of the community.