10-year Community and Cultural Facilities Plan adopted by Coffs Harbour City Council

The future expansion of Jetty Memorial Theatre has been identified as a priority project in Coffs Harbour City Council’s recently adopted Community and Cultural Facilities Plan 2021-2031. Photo: Emma Darbin.


COFFS Harbour City councillors debated Council’s Community and Cultural Facilities Plan 2021-2031 recently, with Cr Tegan Swan calling on Council to introduce a new Developer Contributions Plan to fund the region’s cultural and community facilities.

The plan provides a strategic framework to guide decision-making about Council’s community and cultural facilities, their use and identifies future priority projects across the Coffs Harbour Local Government Area over the next ten years.

The Coffs Harbour LGA has a diverse range of community and cultural facilities across 78 venues, from libraries, art galleries and community centres, to rural halls, small museums and an indoor theatre venue.

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The priority projects over the next ten years include the Jetty Memorial Theatre expansion (multi-purpose and rehearsal space), Cultural Collections Facility (to support the regional library, museum and gallery expansion), Moonee Community Hub, Coffs Harbour Entertainment Venue, Ayrshire Park community meeting space, and Branch Library network expansion.

The anticipated timing of these projects over the next ten years includes Jetty Memorial Theatre expansion, Cultural Collections Facility, and Moonee Community Hub (2021-2023), Youth Services and Recreation Hub, Ayrshire Park small community meeting space (2024-2026), and Coffs Harbour Entertainment Venue, and Branch Library network expansion (2026+).

Funding for the proposed facilities will be sought from Federal and State Government grants, as well as opportunities in future Council budgets.

Key project opportunities identified in the Plan to address significant regional cultural and community facility provision needs include the Cultural and Civic Space, Regional Performing Arts Centre, Jetty Memorial Theatre, and the creation of creative spaces.

The Draft Community and Cultural Facilities Plan 2021-2031 was publicly exhibited on Council’s ‘Have Your Say’ engagement page on its website in November and December 2020, with 28 public submissions received by Council on the draft plan.

Submissions generally supported the Draft Plan, particularly actions to increase the utilisation of existing facilities, such as those within more remote areas of the LGA.

The key issues raised in public submissions included addressing facility gaps, the development of spaces for young people, facilitating creative spaces, and alignment with public spaces principles.

Submissions raised specific sites, such as the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden, or privately run facilities to be included within the overall facilities network.

The Draft Plan was amended by Council in response to the feedback received.

At Council’s ordinary meeting on Thursday 11 March, Cr Swan called on Council to produce a report detailing the process and costs to initiate a Community Facilities Developer Contribution Plan across the LGA to fund cultural and community facilities in the region.

“It’s identified (in a Council report) that it is a way to provide more of these facilities to the community,” Cr Swan stated.

Cr Swan called on Council to impose a blanket cost across the LGA, in addition to Council’s existing LGA wide Developer Contributions.

“Outside of our LGA wide Developer Contributions Plan there are currently 21 existing specific Developer Contributions Plans to assess specific needs,” Cr Swan stated.

“This would just form part of the overarching collective.”

Cr Michael Adendorff argued against a possible new Developer Contributions fee.

“If you have a Developer Contribution applied to a very worthy cause such as this, then why don’t you have a developer contribution applied to many other worthy causes?” Cr Adendorff asked.

“I can’t understand why this one deserves consideration of a Developer Contribution Plan when there’s so many other things that are waiting to be funded, and that could be supported with developer contributions as well.”

Cr George Cecato didn’t believe Council should send signals to potential developers that it’s “hiding around the corner and possibly introducing extra charges”.

Cr Keith Rhoades said Coffs Harbour City Council was already “known as one of the dearest for contributions to development of residential land”.

“It’s probably sending the wrong signal, we do have a Contributions Plan in place,” Cr Rhoades said.

Cr Paul Amos said in his mind Council’s Contributions Plans were already addressing cultural and community facilities.

Cr Swan’s motion for Council to provide a report on the process and costs to initiate a Community Facilities Developer Contribution Plan across the LGA was narrowly defeated four votes to three, with councillors eventually moving to adopt the Community and Cultural Facilities Plan 2021-2031.

Over the next ten years, the Coffs Harbour region is projected to grow by around 11,000 residents.



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