Entertainment Venue Project Put on Hold

FURTHER progress on an Entertainment Venue in Coffs Harbour City Centre has been put on hold until City of Coffs Harbour’s General Fund is in surplus, which is expected to be in the 2027-2028 financial year.

“Last month, Council adopted a revised capital works program with the aims of maintaining financial sustainability, setting an achievable level of deliverability and realigning expectations to a more sustainable level,” said Natalia Cowley, City of Coffs Harbour’s General Manager.

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“Fundamentally, we took a long hard look at what kind of capital program – which not only includes construction, but also ongoing operations and depreciation of any such assets – we can resource.

“While no one is denying the merits and benefits that a Coffs Harbour Entertainment Venue could offer our community, the significant capital and operational costs mean that we should look at this project again when we’re in a surplus financial position.”

Current cost estimates for a Coffs Harbour Entertainment Venue (CHEV) are:
● Capital cost of $70m (based on 2019 figures), including parking but excluding escalation and contingency funds;
● Operating cost, including depreciation, of $2.5m a year (based on 2022 figures).

A previous stage of the project’s Scoping Study – the Functional Brief – established that the proposed Venue would need to be a 2,500 square metre multi-functional hub, able to accommodate an audience of up to 820 people in a flexible, inclusive space.

Following Council’s adoption of the Functional Brief in September 2021, a Site Analysis of potential locations within the City Centre was undertaken.

In total, 13 initial sites were considered.

These were further examined and three preferred sites received more detailed site analysis and testing.

Ultimately, the study highlighted the current Council Chambers site at 2 Castle Street as the preferred location for the CHEV.

“None of this work will be wasted,” added Ms Cowley.

“The CHEV Scoping Study project has provided us with with an endorsed functional brief and financial information.

“However, based on the fiscal environment and financial capacity of the organisation, it’s more prudent to halt the project at this time.”

Council agreed to put the project on hold and also to retain the Council Chambers building at 2 Castle Street pending an analysis of alternate options to its sale as previously planned under the Yarrila Place funding model.

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