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Frequently Asked Questions
Click on a project area below to find the answers you are looking for, or just start reading from the top to learn more about the Cultural and Civic Space project. 

What benefits will this new space have for the local community?

With a focus on digital literacy, the new library will cater to students of all ages. The art gallery and museum will mean our local history, heritage and creativity can be showcased in the one location allowing locals and visitors to immerse themselves in our proud history and vibrant artistic community. The space will feature indoor and outdoor events areas and a co-working hub. It will also feature multipurpose rooms and a commercial kitchen that will be available for hire.


What will the Cultural and Civic Space include?

The Coffs Harbour Regional Museum, Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, Harry Bailey Memorial Library, family history group, multipurpose meeting rooms, co-working space, rooftop garden, shop, café, outdoor and indoor event areas, Council offices and Council chambers.


What is Council’s vision or masterplan for the city centre and how does the Cultural and Civic Space fit into this?

In 2013 the Coffs Harbour City Centre Masterplan 2031 was endorsed by Council. It was the result of extensive consultation with the business and wider community. The Masterplan clearly outlined, among other initiatives, that it was to “create a place where economic, social and cultural pursuits fuse to enrich and enliven all who live, work and visit the City Centre”.  A key principle of the Masterplan is that the City Centre stands united as one retail, business, cultural and entertainment precinct with preferred development to occur as close to the City Square as possible.  In addition, the City has taken into account The Government Architect NSW’s (GANSW’s) Better Placed policy, which clearly outlines the importance of good design and placement. You can view the Better Placed policy and principles at


Why are new Council offices included in the Cultural and Civic Space?

Council staff are currently spread across two sites – Rigby House and the Castle Street Administration Building, which is almost 40 years old and is approaching its end of life. Being located in the one precinct will benefit the community, who will have a single point of access to all Council services. It will also allow all council staff to work more efficiently within a modern and functional workplace. The Cultural and Civic space will also bring staff from the Library, Museum and Gallery to a central location, allowing a more collaborative approach to cultural activities and education in Coffs Harbour.



Will building the new Cultural & Civic Space mean other projects will be delayed?  

No. Coffs Harbour City Council undertakes long term planning and diligent management of all projects to ensure planned projects can be delivered.


What were the outcomes of the consultation around the Cultural and Civic Space Project?

The community consultation generated more than 1,800 pieces of information that were analysed and incorporated into decision making. The latest round of consultation, which was held between September 2018 and June 2019 found 74% of the respondents were positive or neutral about the project.


Did Council consult with the community on the Cultural and Civic Space Project?

Yes. Council has provided multiple engagement opportunities. Information on this project has been communicated on our website, within Council rates notices, via our Facebook page, in project update newsletters, via advertisements, on posters, at community events, on digital screens and within media coverage.


Will rates increase because of the Cultural and Civic Space Project?

No. This project has been planned and budgeted for in a way that does not result in the need for a Special Rate Variation or put the Council under financial stress.


Why isn’t the new Cultural and Civic Space being built on or at City Hill?

Our city’s cultural and administrative facilities need to be accessible to all residents and visitors, including those who don’t own cars, which is why Gordon Street is the most practical and logical location for the Cultural and Civic Space Project. Best practice in design states that prosperous, growing cities locate such facilities in their centre. The Coffs Harbour City Centre Masterplan 2031 and best practice in design both highlight that prosperous, growing cities locate such facilities in their centre. In addition, the City has taken into account The Government Architect NSW’s Better Placed policy, which clearly outlines the importance of good design and placement.


Will there be more space in the new building?

Yes. Within the schematic design the new Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery will have more than three times the space of the current gallery (619m2 compared with 198m2), the new Coffs Harbour Regional Museum will have more than 2.5 times the space (340m2 compared with 131m2). The new Harry Bailey Memorial Library will be 2578m2, plus a shared space of 592m2. The current library is 986m2, which is only 40% of the size recommended by the State Library of NSW. The new cultural spaces will be much more than places to borrow books or view art, they will allow for a contemporary use of services and workshops that will benefit a much wider cross-section of the Coffs community.


What are the environmental credentials of the proposed design?

The schematic design incorporates important elements of the local environment, wrapping around a large fig tree in Riding Lane and featuring a rooftop garden. The design minimises energy use and the final design will align with Council’s Sustainability Policy. There is a factsheet with additional detail available here.


Why not just refurbish or upgrade existing Council properties?

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 development of a new Cultural and Civic Space is a key step to creating an important cultural hub in the heart of Coffs. As the Coffs Harbour City Centre Masterplan 2031 identified, there is a need to “create a place where economic, social and cultural pursuits fuse to enrich and enliven all who live, work and visit the City Centre.” The Concept Business Case found the cost of incorporating Council offices and chambers into the new Cultural and Civic Space was competitive with upgrading existing facilities and would result in better outcomes for the community as well as ongoing cost savings for the City. These savings include the reduced operational costs associated with managing one property, as opposed to multiple properties across several locations. A central Cultural and Civic Space will also enliven and activate the city centre, resulting in increased visitation and benefits to local businesses from the increased foot traffic.


How will the Cultural and Civic Space benefit local business?

Approximately 500 jobs will be generated during the construction phase of the project, and local businesses can expect to receive business from many of these workers. In addition, increased tourism in the local area will directly benefit local businesses with Council estimating 400,000 people will visit the new Cultural and Civic Space each year.


Will there be parking available?

Yes. Parking will be available both around the new building and in the multi-storey car park behind the precinct. The current design incorporates a total of 75 basement parking spaces and the Traffic Assessment Reports (available at detail the possible locations, allocations and usage of those parking spaces.


What is the anticipated tourism benefit?

Similar projects in other cities have generated a significant increase in patronage, with detailed analysis[1] estimating an $8.5 million increase in tourism spend.


Will there be an events space?

The Cultural and Civic Space will feature both indoor and outdoor events spaces and multipurpose rooms, as well as a commercial kitchen, that will be available to the local community for hire.


Will the new space house a performance centre?

The Cultural & Civic Space does not include a large performing arts centre. It does, however, contain a large multipurpose room that will be able to host events, performances and civic functions that would normally take place in a town hall.  This room would also serve as a Chambers for Council meetings approximately every fortnight and will hold approximately 200 people.  An outdoor rooftop area and other spaces through the building will also be available for events and workshops. 


An Issues and Options Paper (interim findings) for Performing Arts Spaces ( Indoor and Outdoor) was presented to Council for consideration in December 2019.  This discussion paper outlines the definitions of different types of venues, the current and future needs in relation to the provision of adequate performance spaces and the options and steps Council would need to consider moving forward.


More information about community facility planning and performing arts projects can be found here: - or by contacting


What is the cost of the Cultural and Civic Space Project?

The total project budget is $76.52 million and is inclusive of all costs for the 23-31 Gordon Street Site, including fit out.


Why did the project estimate increase from $36 million to $76.52 million?

The 2016 figure of $36 million was an estimate based on the anticipated size of the Cultural and Civic Centre and was provided before formal design work was undertaken. The scope of the 2016 estimate included the Harry Bailey Memorial library, co-working space, Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, Council customer service, Council offices and Council chamber.


In the period between the development of the 2016 estimate and Council’s resolution to adopt a $76.52 million budget on 11 June 2018 the project evolved significantly:

  • The size of areas already in the scope was increased, and the Coffs Harbour Regional Museum was included in the scope;

  • Three concepts for community input were developed, with various adaptations to the scope

  • Construction material and labour costs increased via CPI and other drivers between 2016 and 2018;

  • An escalation allowance from 2018 to 2021 dollars was included (i.e. the annual cost escalation between the time at which the updated estimate was made in 2018 and when the project construction will be paid for across 2020 and 2021)

  • Five per cent design contingency and 10 per cent construction contingency as a safety margin to cater for unforeseen issues

Over the last year, schematic design has been undertaken and the cost estimate updated accordingly by professional, registered quantity surveyors.  The cost estimate remains within the $76.52 million budget.



How will the project be funded?

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.


If council properties are being sold, but the new Cultural & Civic Space is still almost three years away – what will happen to facilities like the Coffs Harbour Regional Museum in the meantime?

A condition of sale will be that Council leases back the sites until the new Cultural and Civic Centre Space is complete.


Which properties will be sold as part of this plan?

Rigby House, Castle Street Administration Building, Rose Avenue Offices and the Coffs Harbour Regional Museum.


How much will the Council need to borrow to fund the project?

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.


Is this project going to be too big for Council to manage?

No. Coffs Harbour City Council has successfully managed projects significantly larger than the Cultural and Civic Space Project; this will be no different.

What floor area does the Civic area take up of the new Cultural and Civic Space?

The civic component of the new building is approximately 30% (3,480 sqm) as at the end of the Schematic Design stage. This excludes the car parking area.


How much of the total cost does the Civic component constitute?

Based on the floor area at the end of Schematic Design (approx. 3,480 sqm) it is estimated that approximately $20 million could be saved of the total $76.52 million by removing the civic components. This is an estimate only, as no design work has been completed on this option.


It is also important to note that if the civic component of the building is excluded, then the input from the sales of Rigby House and the Castle Street building are also excluded. This means the cost savings from excluding council office and chamber is substantially less than $20 million.