BIG PLANS: The Cultural and Civic Spaced proposed for the CBD.
BIG PLANS: The Cultural and Civic Spaced proposed for the CBD. Submitted

Cost blowouts on civic space could be crippling

A COFFS Harbour City councillor has warned of cost blowouts on the much-anticipated Cultural and Civic Space.

The warning came last week as Coffs Harbour City councillors debated over whether or not to include $700,000 in the upcoming council budget for the Northern Beaches Multi Purpose Centre.

"All of our oxygen is getting sucked away by the city centre building and now we are fighting over the scraps," Cr Paul Amos said.

He has warned costs could blow out to as much as $100-million with disastrous consequences for council and ratepayers.

"Two years ago it was $35-million and the latest figure is $78-million, but at end of day I wouldn't be surprised if it worked out a lot more than that."


Council meeting discussion on intensive agriculture with blueberries in Coffs Regional.Cr Paul Amos. 23 march 2017
Coffs Harbour City Councillor Paul Amos has warned of cost blowouts on the project Trevor Veale

He admits that some of this cost will be offset by the sale of existing council buildings, including the museum, but says this kind of financial forecasting can be risky.

"Some of that cost will be offset by the sale of buildings but again, in this market, you've got to wonder. It's hard to tell what some of these purpose built buildings are going to fetch."

His concerns are heightened by the fact three funding proposals put forward by council for State and Federal funds for the project have been unsuccessful.

Cr Amos is considering all of this as he prepares for the next council meeting on July 11 where councillors will vote on putting the project to tender stage.

"Once it goes to tender we have to complete the project.

"I'll be going into the meeting as I always do, and that's with an open mind, but at this stage I'm finding it hard to support."


The location of the new Cultural and Civic Space.
HEART OF TOWN: The location of the new Cultural and Civic Space in Gordon St. Contributed

In recent months council has launched a public display of the draft schematic design drawings for the space which council's website claims will: 'combine arts, community and culture to create a lively community and civic hub for a vibrant and active City Centre.'

But Mr Amos warns there might be some confusion about what exactly will be included.

"One of my biggest concerns is that I think 50 per cent of people think it will have some sort of performing space where people will be putting on shows but that's not going to happen," Cr Amos said.

"I would find this easier to support if there was some sort of conference facility attached to it. We need to be chasing the corporate dollar."

The July 11 meeting starts at 5pm and is open to the public.