The State Government has received 874 submissions in relation to the proposal including one from major property owner Gowings.
The State Government has received 874 submissions in relation to the proposal including one from major property owner Gowings.

Gowings weighs into Cultural and Civic Space debate

THE State Government has received almost 900 submissions in relation to Coffs Harbour City Council's development application for the controversial Cultural and Civic Space.

The application is currently with the State Government's Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

A public consultation period attracted a total of 874 submissions which the department will now need to consider as part of the assessment process.

The vast majority of submissions were against it with some in favour and others submitted as 'comments'.

One submission came from major property owner and invester Gowing Bros Ltd. Gowings owns and operates Coffs Central.

 

Gowings owns a number of buildings including this one in the Coffs Harbour CBD.
Gowings owns a number of buildings including this one in the Coffs Harbour CBD.

In their submission Chris Mulcahy, Head of Property, congratulates Council on the art gallery, library, museum and cultural space component saying it will contribute to the cultural diversity and vibrancy of the city centre.

"We fully support Council's concept of a place to gather, create and discover and the inclusion of the library, art gallery and museum and cultural spaces; great cities have these important cultural facilities within the very heart," Mr Mulcahy wrote.

"However, we object strongly to the inclusion of the proposed café and Council administration offices within the development."

With Council relying on the sale of a number of buildings including Rigby House to fund the $76.5m development they fear there will be a glut of office space in the CBD once these buildings are sold.

"This is the last thing the CBD needs after finally getting back on its feet after decades of decline.

"There is currently an adequate supply of office space in the CBD as evidenced by the areas of vacant office space and limited new office space development over recent years."

Instead they would like to see a residential component in the development which is in line with council's stated 'Compact City' model outlined in a number of their growth strategies, extending the life of the City Centre beyond 9 to 5 work hours.

 

The proposal has divided councillors.
The proposal has divided councillors.

They also argue the residential component will providing an income source for the project through residential apartment rentals and/or sales.

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Gowings also believes the likely impacts on public parking availability adjacent to the development has not been adequately addressed.

The proposal includes the construction of basement car parking for staff and councillors but in their submission Gowings refer to a public parking survey which shows availability in the Castle St multi-storey car park can exceed 85 per cent occupancy during peak retail times.

"The Castle Street multi-storey car park is currently managed by Gowings Bros Ltd under an

agreement with Coffs Harbour City Council. This car park provides the main retail and

commercial parking supply for the Coffs Central Shopping Centre and the core City Centre

retail area.

"Transfer of long and short-term parking demand from the City Centre fringe,

along with the increase in parking demand generated by a successful Cultural and Civic

space development will have significant impact on the capacity of public parking in the City

core," Mr Mulcahy explained in his submission.

In order to mitigate the impact Gowings suggest reviewing the current mix of parking options at the Castle Street complex and funding additional levels of parking.