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NSW Minister calls for halt to plans for new Coffs Harbour Cultural and Civic Space

NSW Minister calls for halt to plans for new Coffs Harbour Cultural and Civic Space
April 28, 2020

NSW Local Government Minister, Shelley Hancock has called on Coffs Harbour Council to pause plans for a new $76.5 million community civic space in the city.

The Council's plans to develop a new library, museum and art gallery in what it calls a new cultural precinct, has prooved divisive, the plans for the inclusion of new council chambers in the development a major point of contention dividing the community and its councillors.

While the NSW Government is encouraging development as an economic stimulus during the Coronavirus crisis, Minister Hancock intervened in a radio interview this week, saying it would be "foolish and rash" for the Council to vote to progress the Cultural and Civic Space during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on 2GB, Minister Hancock stated "my view is pause it, otherwise I'm going to pursue some legislative changes about this

"This is a really bad message to send to a community that is totally divided on this.

"It's not necessary at this stage when every council, state, and (the) Federal Government are trying to direct hard earned resources … toward COVID-19."

The Council is looking to fund the development through loans and the sale of four of its buildings, including its existing offices.

The planned new building will include a Regional Gallery, Central Library, Regional Museum, multipurpose meeting rooms which can also be used as the Council Chamber for meetings, a co-working space, shop, café, the Family History Group, function space, the Council's customer service area, Council offices and car parking.

Aiming to create a vibrant cultural and civic precinct in the heart of Coffs Harbour, an independent economic assessment has identified it will bring a host of benefits to the city including financial gains over a 30-year period totalling $57 million and 31 on-going jobs.

When in operation, it is projected to contribute $2m annually to the Gross Regional Product through support of local businesses.

Image: Coffs Harbour City Council's planned new cultural and civic space. Supplied.

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