FRUSTRATED: David Doyle is the chairperson of the CBD Masterplan Committee.
FRUSTRATED: David Doyle is the chairperson of the CBD Masterplan Committee. Trevor Veale

Council 'didn't listen' on City Square plans

THE chairman of the committee tasked to advise council on the upgrade of the City Square was surprised to see the latest plan for the community space with one of the kiosks removed.

David Doyle, Chairperson of the CBD Masterplan Committee, only learnt of the revision in the days leading up to the recent council meeting.

"Every survey that we have done, over the last six years, has said to us as a committee: 'we want the kiosks to stay'," Mr Doyle said.

He spoke at the council meeting in the hope councillors would not approve the most recent plan, but to no avail. The motion to remove the kiosk, currently occupied by Caffeine Central, was approved by the five councillors present (Crs Denise Knight, Paul Amos, Keith Rhoades and Tegan Swan for the motion and Cr Sally Townley voting against it).

"They didn't listen to us whatsoever," Mr Doyle said after the meeting.

A staff report determined that the kiosk on the eastern edge of the square effectively privatises what could otherwise be maximised public space and disrupts important view lines and pedestrian movement which impacts on public space and business opportunities in the adjoining private holdings.

Yukari Keiser is the owner of MaMaGOTO, which occupies the kiosk that will stay under the latest plan because it is a 'very different business and public space activation dynamic along the western edge of the square'.

She is clearly delighted with the latest development after the potential removal of the kiosk had been foreshadowed in a previous plan.

"I want to thank the community for their support," she said in relation to a petition that attracted around 3,000 signatures in support of keeping the popular eatery.


Kukari and Heath Keizer with over 2000 signatures so far to save Ma Ma Goto in The Coffs Mall.. 12 JULY 2018
FIGHTERS: Yukari and Heath Keizer with the petition to save their business. Trevor Veale

She does have her concerns that the new umbrellas depicted on the plan will not provide adequate weather protection.

Owners of Caffeine Central, whose current lease was set to expire in August, 2019, have been trying to sell their business for a number of years and admit the uncertainty has impacted their ability to affect a sale.

"We had a buyer in January but we weren't able to sell because council couldn't guarantee an extension on the lease," explained co-owner Kim Watson.

She estimates that in the four years they've owned the business, there has been four or five revisions to the plan.

Despite the uncertainty she doesn't feel like council is kicking them out, and discussions will soon begin around adequate monetary compensation for the removal of their business.

"From a business perspective it's an arrangement that suits us at this point in time, but if we didn't have those personal reasons (to sell the business) we would be fighting this tooth and nail."

Demolition of the kiosk will take place prior to construction work in February next year.