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Contact Us:

Facebook: @HeartOfCoffs

Phone: (02) 6648 4000

Email: ccsproject@chcc.nsw.gov.au

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The Heart of Coffs microsite and Facebook page are managed by Coffs Harbour City Council. This microsite is created and managed under the copyright policy, privacy policy and disclaimer of Coffs Harbour City Council. Image credit of site photography: coffscoast.com

 
Heart of Coffs Facebook Responses
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Since launching the Heart of Coffs Facebook page, the project team has answered questions for the community about the Cultural and Civic Space. Below, you will find our responses to frequent questions provided to the community on Facebook. These have been curated into four key topics for easy navigation, and will continue to be updated.

The Council is currently undertaking a tender process to award the contract for development of the Cultural and Civic space. Council and its contractors will seek to support local enterprise. 

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All of the 3 architect concept designs incorporated council offices as a result of a Council resolution in 11 May 2017 where it was resolved to include the council offices. The concept designs are available here:https://haveyoursay.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/cultural-and-civic-space/documents. The reports on the 2018 and 2019 community consultation are available on the downloads page at www.heartofcoffs.com.au

 

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You can view the Councillor Representatives and Committee Members here: https://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/Your-Council/what-we-are-doing/Pages/Council-Committees.aspx and the Terms of Reference for the LGPAG here: 

https://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/Your-Council/what-we-are doing/Documents/Council%20Committee%20ToR/Terms%20of%20Reference%20-%20Library%20and%20Gallery%20Planning%20Advisory%20Group%20(LGPAG)%20(13-10-2016).pdf  

 

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There is no evidence of removal of the performing arts space that can be provided – as the project did not ever include it. Prior to the project being initiated, as a new library and gallery, there were a couple of Council reports which recommended the approach to take in planning and developing these new facilities, which separated out the performing arts space from the library and gallery. See report and minutes from 26 Nov 2015 (https://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/Your-Council/About-Council/Documents/Council%20Meetings/2012-2015%20Council%20Agendas%20and%20Minutes/2015.11.26%20Minutes%20Ordinary%20Meeting.pdf)

(SC15/48 and SC15/49). 
 
You will see here that the Library and Gallery (SC15/48) were to be considered together and the Performing Arts Centre (SC15/49) was to be treated separately. Media releases advising of the decisions made relating to the Cultural facilities from the Nov 26, 2015 meeting, can be found here: 
 

https://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/Your-Council/what-we-are-doing/Pages/Past%20Media%20Releases/2015/MR-Cultural-Strategy-to-develop-capacity-and-cultural-life.aspx

 

https://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/Your-Council/what-we-are-doing/Pages/Past%20Media%20Releases/2015/MR-Funding-Approved-for-Study-into-New-Library-and-Gallery.aspx


At the Council meeting June 23, 2016 Council resolved to “Investigate mixed use and civic (includes Council office accommodation) development in addition to a new central library and regional gallery on the 23- 31 Gordon Street site, in order to maximise urban renewal and activation outcomes consistent with the CBD Masterplan.” 
 
See SC16/34 here, 

https://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/Your-Council/About-Council/Documents/Council%20Meetings/Minutes%20and%20Agendas%202016/MINUTES%20-%20ORDINARY%20MEETING%2023%20JUNE%202016.pdf .
 
Further to this, at the Council meeting 11 May 2017, “ Adopts the scope of the Cultural and Civic Space project to include a new central library, regional gallery, customer service area, Council Chambers and Council staff office accommodation.”. See SC17/21 here,  https://infocouncil.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/Open/2017/05/CO_20170511_MIN_2147_WEB.htm .
 
The new building will contain a Multipurpose room which will seat approximately 200 people, adjacent to this is a commercial kitchen. This will be used once a fortnight as Council Chambers but will be available to the public to hire for a variety of purpose, including presenting productions etc. There will be various other indoor and outdoor spaces for hire. 
 

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To confirm, Cavanbah Hall is not closing or being sold. The visitation and usage figures were used to help inform what usage we can expect with the Multipurpose room in the new building.  

 

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The detailed design of the building to 80% is due to be completed by this time next year. The detailed design phase is the final phase of development projects before construction and design finalisation (i.e. 80% to 100%) commences. Yes, there may be some changes to the building in the detailed design and design finalisation phases, following additional consultation between engineers and architects and including design changes by user groups that were unable to be finalised in Schematic design. There may also be design changes during construction to address issues if and when they emerge.  

 

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In accordance with Council resolutions regarding the project, the builder is to be engaged in a two stage process. Initially to contribute to the design then potentially to construct the building. The design part of the process is being conducted in parallel with the development application.  

 

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In the 11 May 2017 Council Meeting Minutes you will find the resolution to undertake studies, concept designs, and preliminary budgets associated with the cultural development at City Hill. Here is a link to the minutes:

https://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/Your-Council/About-Council/Documents/Council%20Meetings/Minutes%20and%20Agendas/Minutes%20-%20Ordinary%20Meeting%2011%20May%202017.pdf (page 6).

 

In the same resolution Council adopted the scope of the Cultural and Civic Space project to include a new central library, regional gallery, customer service area, Council Chambers and Council staff office accommodation (also page 6) at the Gordon Street as resolved in June 2016. Additional information on the history of the Gordon Street site can be found on Page 4 of the link.  

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Development process: Community consultation 

Three concept designs were developed by firms and presented for community and stakeholder feedback.  

 

It was clearly communicated that this process was not to choose a design, but to receive feedback form the community on desirable and undesirable elements.  

 

The original feedback on these three concepts was collected from February to March 2018 consisted of: 223 attending 23 separate focus groups and stakeholder meetings, we received 236 completed the concept design survey, there were 2900 instances of online engagements via the Have Your Say project portal, over 475 completed the library and gallery strategic planning surveys, 831 survey comments/feedback received and 1421 key phrases of feedback from focus groups and written feedback analysed. Additional and more detailed information can be found in the Review of 2018 Consultation: 

https://www.heartofcoffs.com.au/project-downloads?fbclid=IwAR0w0Tv68wFxTNDj-_dqO9rkF0TzuU84sYHDnuEWz817vYQVaNmMRUOHnu8 

  

 

The tender for procurement of architectural services was awarded to BVN through due process. The findings from the Concept designs were fed into the schematic design process and assisted in forming the design.

 

Additionally, key user groups were engaged to further inform the design, these included representatives from youth (from early years to young adults), the indigenous community, homeless support agencies, refugees and refugee support agencies, disability access, mental health support, migrants and migrant support agencies, commercial caterers and commercial cleaners. 

 

These forums and meetings were conducted over a period from February to June 2019. BVN and Council communicated with the community through the schematic design phase. Engagement over this period consisted of: Have Your Say platform received 2,800 viewers between Nov 2018 – May 2019, Project information distributed to 29,000 rate payers, Project Newsletters resulting in 4800 unique opens, 1,173 directly engaged through schematic design forums, focus groups and meetings – there were extensive promotions and collateral distribution through multiple channels across the LGA, including Council’s Facebook page 9th May – 18th June 2019, with 9 posts resulting in 355 interactions; the project video which was viewed 1625 times.

 

Additional and more detailed information can be found in the 2019 Stakeholder report: 

https://www.heartofcoffs.com.au/project-downloads?fbclid=IwAR0w0Tv68wFxTNDj-_dqO9rkF0TzuU84sYHDnuEWz817vYQVaNmMRUOHnu8 

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Development process: Tenders

If no acceptable tenders are received to deliver the project within the budget approved by Council, then that outcome would return to Council to be discussed and next steps determined.  

 

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Development process: Tenders

The Council is pursuing a “Design and Construct” style of contract for the Cultural and Civic Space. This would be based on a fixed lump sum with provisions for unforeseen matters that sometimes occur in the building process, like additional earthworks.  

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Development process: Existing facilities

Part of the funding for the Cultural and Civic Space will come from the sale of four council assets (Rigby House, Castle Street Administration Building, Rose Avenue Commercial Offices and the Coffs Harbour Regional Museum). A condition of sales will be that Council leases back the sites until the new Cultural and Civic Centre Space is complete. 

There is a bus drop off zone planned for Gordon St.  An Integrated Transport Strategy for the Local Government Area is currently underway. The Cultural and Civic Space has been incorporated into this strategy.  The scope of the integrated transport strategy can be found here: https://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/Building-and-Planning/Place-Strategies/Pages/Integrated-Transport-Strategy.aspx. You can download and review the traffic report on the development here: www.heartofcoffs.com.au/downloads.  

 

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The Multipurpose room will be able to seat approximately 200 people, adjacent to this is a commercial kitchen. This will be used once a fortnight as Council Chambers but will be available to the public to hire for a variety of purposes outside that time, including presentations, productions etc. There will be various other indoor and outdoor spaces for hire. There will also be a co-working area at the Cultural and Civic Space, which is a location where people from different companies, as well as freelancers, start-ups and sole traders share an office space. This allows for cost savings, collaborative work and networking opportunities and is particularly beneficial for entrepreneurs, particularly young entrepreneurs. People can typically hire a desk within the space on a short-term or ongoing basis. 

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New spaces: Museum

 

The new museum will have more than 2.5 times the space (340m2 compared with 131m2).  

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New spaces: Visitors

 

This figure of 400,000 (regarding approximate annual visitors), was provided by Id. Consulting in their report, informed by data Council provided them on existing and anticipated visitor numbers (based on our research of similar cultural facilities elsewhere including Bendigo, Dubbo, Tweed Heads) and applied them to our existing facility statistics. Meeting space (including the multi-purpose/chamber) visitation of an estimated 60,000 p.a. was based on existing Cavanbah Centre visitation. Also included in the figures was visitation to the co-working spaces. We assumed no change in visitation re the Council offices. 

You are correct in stating that 1,100 people are not expected to visit the space each day. There will be events and ceremonies that attract large crowds, and quieter periods of ‘business as usual’ visitation rates.  

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New spaces: Library

The new library will be 2578m2 plus shared spaces of 592m2. The current size of the library is 986m2.  

 

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New spaces: Library

  

The new Harry Bailey Memorial Library will be more than just a place to borrow books and include many features designed to attract and retain young people including a digital recording studio and a space in which to explore making robotic devices. Additional benefits will include extra meeting rooms and a focus on digital literacy. The current Harry Bailey Memorial Library is only 40% of the size recommended by the State Library – this means our community does not have access to enough computers, study spaces, meeting rooms, quiet spaces, resources and books for its size. The new library is designed to meet the needs of our growing population.  

 

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New spaces: Library

Toormina and Woolgoolga are satellite branches. You can access the Cultural Facility Development – Harry Baily Memorial Library and the Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery report to ordinary council for more information about the process and findings at this link: 

https://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/Your-Council/About-Council/Documents/Council%20Meetings/2012-2015%20Council%20Agendas%20and%20Minutes/2015.11.26%20-%20Agenda%20Ordinary%20Meeting.pdf . The report starts at page 493 and details the survey and research undertaken. You may also be interested in understanding more about the State Guidelines, this information can be found here, https://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/public-library-services/people-places-tools. 

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New spaces: Library

 
The library standard for Coffs Harbour states we should hold 131,463 items (1.71 for a population of 76,879). Our current stock 96,223 is 35,240 under what we should be offering. 
 
Council have just installed another 50 shelves in the Harry Bailey Memorial library to make more room for the collection. These have been slotted into the bays that had 4 shelves to increase them to 5 shelves per bay. This itself is less than optimal, as it makes the lowest shelf much closer to the ground. Books that shelved on low bottom shelves are less borrowed due to some customers’ eyesight and flexibility. We have yet to complete shuffling the stock to use all of the new shelving. The aim is not to have completely full shelves, because this makes shelving returned stock inefficient – each shelf should have at least a spread hand span clear. 
 
In 2015 two service kiosks were installed in the Harry Bailey Memorial Library to reduce the possibility that customers would have to queue. Even so, at peak times, such as after story time, queues do form, and the staff help out by assisting at the front counter as well. 
 
The daily average of visitors at Harry Bailey Memorial Library from 1 July – 30 September 2019 was 583 people per day. 

 

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New spaces: Offices

At present, there are 250 Council staff who work across the two office sites. There will be 250 staff moving into the new council offices, this the space has been designed to allow for future growth over 20 years.

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New spaces: Offices

The Council administration space has been designed to allow for predicted staff growth over the next 20 years. The library, for example, is being designed with reference to the NSW State Library standards which allow for the current and future needs of the Coffs community. By co-locating the 3 key cultural facilities across the ground, first and second floors the design allows for flexibility over time as demand for floor space in one of those cultural facilities may be offset by reductions in another.  There is no intention for council administration space to push into cultural space  

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New spaces: Offices

The cost of refurbishing existing properties is not competitive when compared with building a new, greenfields space that can incorporate multiple cultural and civic amenities and more useable space for the community. The Council will be applying for funding through grant processes for the cultural spaces contained within the building.  

 
Parking

The schematic design for the Cultural and Civic Space is compliant with the Coffs Harbour City Council’s Development Control Plan. The Traffic Assessment Reports available at https://www.heartofcoffs.com.au/project-downloads, which includes detailed information about parking requirements, and inclusions in the schematic design. In addition, there is a multi-storey carpark adjacent to the Cultural and Civic Space which has a mix of short term and all day parking available.  

 

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Shoppers, tourists, workers across the public and private sector and others all use free public parking in Coffs.  The Cultural & Civic Space design ensures that, when compared to the current situation, Council staff’s demand for public parking is unchanged.  The assessment report referenced below takes into account current utilisation of public parking around the project site and factors in additional demand generated by the Cultural & Civic Space in operation.  The assessment concludes, among other things, that “Car parking requirements (i.e. supply and demand) have been modelled out to 10 years after opening of the facility and demand is satisfied by the proposed supply of basement car parking and capacity in the public carpark network surrounding the site”.   

 

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There is a mix of short term and all day parking available in the multi-storey car park. 

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The  Castle Street car par is owned by Council, the car park on top of Coffs Central is not owned by Council.  

 

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Parking for prams and disability scooters has been included in the scope of the Schematic design, specific details will be finalised through the Detailed design stage. Additionally, Council will continue to liaise with the Disability Inclusion and Access Advisory committee through the detailed design stage. A drop off space has been included to cater for many purposes, including for aged and disabled patrons, buses of school children, tour buses etc. There will also be new disabled parking space in Riding Lane. There is also a mix of parents with prams, disabled, short term and all day parking available in the multi-storey car park.  

 

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The car parking under the existing Castle St Administration building will be sold and the new owner will have access to that. The 44 spaces under the Castle St multi-deck carpark will be retained for Council operation requirements, so not subject to lease-back from the new owner of the Castle St Administration building.  

 

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Park and Cox Lanes are all to be upgraded under the City Centre Master Plan, in part to improve the walkability of the Coffs CBD.  It makes good sense to upgrade Riding Lane in a way that complements the Cultural and Civic Space development and to keep the timing of both bodies of work synchronised.  Concepts are currently being developed that will look at pedestrian, cycle and vehicle use of the lane including access to the multi-deck car park. You can further review the City Centre Master here:   

https://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/Building-and-Planning/Place-Strategies/Pages/CBD-Master-Plan.aspx  

   

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Parking will be available around the Cultural and Civic space and in the multi-storey carpark behind the space. The Cultural and Civic Space has been incorporated into the Transport Strategy for the Local Government Area scope, which is currently underway. The integrated transport strategy can be found here: https://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/Building-and-Planning/Place-Strategies/Pages/Integrated-Transport-Strategy.aspx As the development project progresses, and details are refined, more information will be available.  

 

The fit out of the building is included in the project budget. The cost of refurbishing and maintaining existing Council properties is not competitive when compared with building a new and more usable space for the community that can incorporate multiple cultural and civic amenities. The ongoing maintenance and cleaning costs are considered a ‘business as usual’ cost for the Council across all buildings and assets.   

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23 Gordon Street was purchased by Council around 7 February 2003 for $380,000. 

 

25-31 Gordon Street was purchased by Council around 22 December 2003 for $1,230,000. 

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The loan aspect of funding will be serviced by Council’s general revenue.  

 

General Revenue consists of Rates and Charges, Grants and Contributions provided for operating purposes, Interest Revenue and User Charges and Fees. These are budgeted to increase each year through indexation and property/customer growth. The Council also has existing borrowings which are due for final repayment in the next couple of years which provides additional capacity for future repayments. 

 

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The Council undertook a Transformation to Sustainability (T2S) Program from 2014 to 2016. This program provided efficiency and productivity gains which generated in excess of $3.2 million per annum which the Council was able to put into the T2S Reserve to allow for future asset renewal. This was detailed in the Council’s Fit for the Future improvement proposal adopted by the Council in 2015. The Special Rate Variation funds have not been used to “fill” the T2S Reserve. Any Special Rate Variation funds which has not been expended are held by Council within a separate Financial Sustainability Reserve to ensure it is only spent on items identified as part of the Special Rate Variation Application as approved by IPART.  

 

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The project budget is $76.52 million and is inclusive of all costs for the 23-31 Gordon Street Site, including the clearing of the site in preparation for development. We can confirm there are no vacant floors in Rigby House.  

 

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The project budget of $76.52 million includes a 10% construction contingency to cater for unforeseen circumstances.

 

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Revenue will be generated through room hire including the co-working spaces, lease of the café and sales through the Gallery Shop. The loan will be serviced by Council’s general revenue, which consists of Rates and Charges, Grants and Contributions provided for operating purposes, Interest Revenue and User Charges and Fees. These are budgeted to increase each year through indexation and property/customer growth.  

 

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Modelling for the loan that partially funds the Cultural & Civic Space shows that no special rate rises would be required to repay the loan.  However, one of the constraints in local government is that the Council of today cannot pre-empt future decisions of Councillors. Funding will be sourced from the City’s reserves, the sale of four council properties (Rigby House, Castle Street administration building, Rose Avenue offices and the Coffs Harbour Regional Museum) and from a loan. Grant funding will also be sought, to reduce the loan requirements. 

  

Coffs Harbour City Council will need to borrow approximately $46.02 million. Financial modelling shows the City is in a strong financial position to borrow this amount.

The increase in recent communications is an initiative of the Council to address inaccurate information on the project circulating around the community. The Cultural and Civic Space project has communication factored into the total $76.52 million project budget. The cost of communication about the Cultural and Civic Space is not using funds from any other ‘business-as-usual’ activities of the Council, nor using funding from any other community initiatives. The recent printing and distribution costs of flyers, advertisements in the Advocate and dedicated project website have used part of this budget. This budget will be managed and utilised over the coming years of development.  

 

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Cost: Grant funding

While the Council office aspect of the building will not be eligible for grant funding, there are many other aspects of the space that will. These include but are not limited to the library, museum and gallery. The Council will be applying for funding through various grant processes for the cultural spaces contained within the building.  

 

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Cost: Grant funding

Approximately 70% of the development is cultural, therefore cultural infrastructure grant opportunities can be pursued if the cultural aspects of the project satisfy the conditions of the grant opportunity.  

 

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Cost: Grant funding

Previously Council has applied for 2 grants, these were not successful, in essence due to the fact that the project was not progressed enough at the time to be awarded. Council will be actively applying for grants when they open. Amounts applied for will depend on the grant criteria once they open.  

 

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Cost: Grant funding

Aspects of this development are eligible for grant funding. The project will be applying for grants for the Cultural component of the building (70%) as and when they open.  

Cost