Council requests additional $1.886 million for a museum fit-out in CCS

Coffs Harbour City Council Councillors are being asked to consider approving an extra $1.886m for permanant museum exhibition items in the Cultural and Civic Space (CCS) in Gordon Street.

By the Editor

The amount was not included in the recently amended overall estimate of $81m for the CCS.

The funding request is on page 61 of this Thursday 22 April’s Council meeting agenda.

Key points from this agenda item are reproduced below.

Executive Summary

The new museum requires a service uplift as identified within the Library, Museum and Gallery (LMG) Strategy 2020-2023.  The existing Coffs Harbour Regional Museum currently has only 3.5% of its collection on display.

Two permanent museum exhibitions are being planned for the combined museum/gallery on the ground floor of the Cultural and Civic Space building (CCS):

1.   ‘Stories of Coffs’ social history exhibition (225 m2); and

2.   ‘Welcome to Country’ Gumbaynggirr exhibition (48 m2).

The most streamlined and cost effective way to deliver these is to engage a specialist exhibition design company to provide design, fabrication and installation, including all sub-disciplines such as graphic design, interactives and multimedia. As a guide, museum exhibition projects can be categorised along a sliding scale (all figures are ex-GST):

–     Basic regional museum (simple), $4,000 – $5,000 per m2;

–     Quality regional museum (mid-level), $5,000 – $8,000 per m2; and

–     State/national museum (high-level) $8,000 – $12,000 per m2.

Consultancy, project management, travel and other fees are additional, generally 18-20% of the project budget.

A mid-level standard is recommended as the most appropriate option for a cultural facility in the CCS to achieve the LMG Strategy objectives. The estimated cost for design, fabrication, installation and related fees is $1,886,325. The funding required is not currently allocated within Council budgets, this report recommends consideration in Council’s next Delivery Program and to pursue grant and other funding opportunities. The permanent museum exhibitions costs are proposed to be phased over financial years; $734,606 in 2021/22 and $1,151,719 in 2022/23.

That Council: 1.      Note the Stories of Coffs and Welcome to Country permanent museum exhibitions that are planned for the new Coffs Harbour Regional Museum within the Cultural and Civic Space facility.
2.      Consider the allocation of funding for these two permanent museum exhibitions within Council’s upcoming Delivery Program to provide a Quality Regional Museum standard, with: 2.1.    $734,606 allocated in 2021/22; and 2.2.    $1,151,719 allocated in 2022/23.
3.      Continue to seek grant and other external funding sources to support the development and delivery of the permanent museum exhibitions.
4.      Close the current Coffs Harbour Regional Museum at 215A Harbour Drive on commencement of the design phase of the new permanent museum exhibitions to allow for necessary preparation and logistics to reopen in the Cultural and Civic Space building.
The current Museum is pictured above

See the 22-4-21 CHCC Council agenda here;


CCO Comment

We at CCO have long argued that Coffs Harbour has long deserved new museum, art gallery, library and entertainment spaces.

Our argument with the CCS in Gordon Street has always been based on a range of issues.


  • the addition of Council Administration Offices leading to a 110% expansion in estimated costs,
  • the process used to arrive at the decision to do this,
  • the lack of genuine community consultation,
  • potential cost blow outs,
  • the physical location of the CCS,
  • an outdated CBD centered, myopic focus underpinning the new CCS that has been overcome by socio/deographic and macro and micro market force changes,
  • the fact the new building makes it harder to attain state and federal grant monies, and
  • lately the ongoing use of casting votes against custom and convention to approve such an expensive, and yes controversial, edifice that almost 15,000 petitioners stated they wanted halted until elections could be held.

A city such as Coffs Harbour, now quickly approaching a population of 80,000, should have first class facilities in this regard. And our history should be honoured, displayed and lovingly curated.

However a big issue now arises and it is one many opponents of the CCS in its current form have raised vigorously and continuously.

That issue is whether the true cost has been presented to Councillors. A true cost estimate that included fit out and associated landscape, road/parking and other costs.

One Councillor who voted for the CCS is on record as saying anything over a 10% increase would have meant they would have voted against the CCS proposal as put to Councillors and that Council had guaranteed a ‘fixed cost contract’.

And yet here we have a request for fit out funding over and above what was put to Councillors.

We can only hope this is the last such request. We have hopes but we also has huge doubts in this regard.

We can only hope that the figures Council’s Executive have put to Councillors have been as honestly accurate as one would expect all information in Council agendas and briefings to be and as is required under the Local Government Act.

But it is not a good start.

Anything but unfortunately.


Thylacine, Ghost or grim survivor, Tasmanian Tiger | Discover the Tarkine

Comment by Rodger Pryce from the Coffs Coast Independent News Facebook page, 21-4-21;

“Wow!! Here it comes folks.

Page 61 of the Council meeting papers for this Thursday night where the Councillors are asked to approve an additional $1.886 million for a museum fitout in an area totalling 273 s.m. of the CCS.

Now let’s go back to the $81 million CCS project and recap that it was a fixed price contract and, included fitout, didn’t it?

Also suggested in the seeking of approval for this additional amount, is a statement that only 3.5% of the museum collection is currently on display in the existing museum.

One can only surmise that the new museum will occupy at least 30 times the area of the existing museum because, to sell how good this is all going to be, the authors of the Council document threw in the fact we’re only showing off 3.5% of our collection. How do you measure 3.5% of a museum collection?? Is there a special museum collection measuring app or something?

I recommend you all read this section of the Council meeting papers and when you get towards the end of the report, there are some lovely glossy pics created by a company, Thylacine, no doubt the suitor in pursuit of their share of our, yes, our $1.886 million. But hang on a minute, Councillors are being asked to approve this expenditure, is this retrospective?”

CCO– Thylacine is also the name for the extinct Tasmanian tiger (pictured above).


Lead picture: Museums and Galleries NSW.

Thylacine Picture:


2 thoughts on “Council requests additional $1.886 million for a museum fit-out in CCS

  1. Is this unresolved matter, one of many no doubt, due to the rush to assemble a signable contract quickly, so that the new council composition has a larger obstacle to overcome in stopping the project?

  2. So does this mean the so-called “fixed contract price” for the CCS was just a load of old bollocks as any person with any real lived experience always knew it was?

    This Council Executive has more front than Mae West and the collective IQ of a container load of lump hammers.

    No doubt the vote will be 4-4 and Queen Denise will wave her magic casting vote wand yet again?

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