Protection of Coffs Harbour Museum’s heritage and historic value sought

A protective covenant for Coffs Harbour Museum is being sought by Coffs Harbour City Council to protect the building’s historical significance to the region. Photo: Emma Darbin.


THE placement of a protective covenant on Coffs Harbour Museum is being sought by Coffs Harbour City Council to protect the building’s heritage and historic value.

Cr Sally Townley gave a Notice Of Motion at Council’s ordinary meeting on Thursday 11 March to move that Council seek a covenant on the current Museum building in Harbour Drive, Coffs Harbour to protect its heritage and historic values.

“The current Museum building has considerable historic and heritage value,” Cr Townley said.

“It already has some level of protection under the heritage provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, however a further covenant would assist Council’s objective of preservation of the building, regardless of ownership.”

Providing further protection of the local heritage significance for the former police station and courthouse was raised during consideration of the sale of Coffs Harbour Museum at Council’s meeting on 25 February this year.

The building is listed as a ‘heritage item’ in the Coffs Harbour LEP 2013.

“This listing provides an additional layer to the merit based assessment for a development application that impacts the building’s heritage significance and the development application would be subject to Council’s development assessment processes, taking the building’s heritage significance into consideration,” a Council report stated.

“Also, a Conservation Management Strategy is attached to the property, through a previous development application, and remains applicable regardless of ownership of the property.

“A covenant under the Conveyancing Act 1919 to place a restriction on the building will further strengthen the heritage protection.”

Cr Townley said adding a further form of protection over the historic building “will never go astray”.

“Having a covenant under the Conveyancing Act is just another instrument on top of the existing listing that will just further add a protective layer to make sure that the historic and heritage values of that building will be required to be kept there,” Cr Townley said.

“I think we’re all united in the feeling that this building carries a lot of significance to this community, and so I guess that’s what I’m trying to capture, the importance of that.”

Cr Keith Rhoades was amazed that Cr Townley was making this Notice Of Motion to protect the Museum, when a fortnight ago she was voting to sell the building into private hands.

“Only two weeks ago to this day in our last ordinary meeting the councillor moving this was the mover of the one to sell it off, take the money and run,” Cr Rhoades stated in disbelief.

“And I thought, ‘wow she has sat back and done some thinking about this and came back with the right answer because at the last meeting we saved it for our local heritage and for future use within our local government area.”

Cr Rhoades mentioned possible future uses for the historic building, including as a restaurant
“I also mentioned at that meeting that there’s various uses it can be used for,” Cr Rhoades said.

“I’ve had a lot of feedback from community members on just what we lack in this town.”

Cr Rhoades then presented the possibility of turning the Coffs Harbour Museum into ‘The Courthouse Restaurant’.

“So let’s not make sure the restrictions aren’t too heavy on it that it can’t be used for anything,” Cr Rhoades said.

“But there’s a myriad of opportunities out there that it can be used for.”

Mayor Denise Knight stated, “I even have a gavel I could take to The Courthouse Restaurant.”

Cr Paul Amos supported the additional protective covenant for the Museum, and called on Council to also consider protecting the current Council Chambers building for prosperity as well.

“I also make another point that there is another timeless building and really unique example of what was done in 1970, and that is this building,” Cr Amos said.

“We’ve got to consider this building as being protected for prosperity too.”

Cr Micheal Adendorff was the only councillor opposed to Council seeking a further protective covenant for the Museum and said “we’re wasting our time”.

Council’s general manager Steve McGrath said Council would probably need to seek legal advice on how to achieve the protective covenant in the most effective way.

Councillors voted for Council to seek a covenant under the Conveyancing Act 1919 to place a protective restriction on the current Museum building on Harbour Drive, Coffs Harbour, in order to protect its heritage and historic values, and for a draft covenant and accompanying legal input to come back to Council for final consideration.

Crs Denise Knight, Paul Amos, George Cecato, Keith Rhoades, Tegan Swan and Sally Townley voted for the protective restriction on the Museum building, and Cr Michael Adendorff voted against it.

Cr John Arkan was absent from the recent Council meeting.



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