Local, Opinion/Comment

Do you think there should be public hearings on new Council Chambers/Cultural Center DA? Then read on

EDITORIAL

We now know that the Council Chambers/Cultural Cenre (CCCC) DA was the subject of 874 submissions to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment who are ultimately responsible for approving or denying the application.

The vast majority of these submissions opposed the proposed DA with 844 objecting to the project, 19 supporting it and 10 submitted as comments.

Rob Stokes, The Minister for Planning, Industry and Environment

The project was critiqued and supported on on numerous grounds including;

  • The location of the proposed building,
  • Issues pertaining to consultation,
  • Parking and access issues,
  • Financing of the project and future potential costs to ratepayers,
  • Road congestion issues pertaining to Gordon Street,
  • The consultation process used to consider the project,
  • The proposed design of the building and the design process itself,
  • Impact on surrounding buildings,
  • Inclusion of Council Chambers,
  • Exclusion of a genuine community Entertainment Centre,
  • Impact on the CBD,
  • The overall cost of the project.

As Mr Rodger Roppolo the Senior Planning Officer at the State Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is reported as saying given the number of objections the proposed project is the most contentious he has worked on in his eight years in his role Coffs Coast Outlook believes that public hearings here on the Coffs Coast into the DA’s for this project are an absolute must.

Supporters and proponents should be given a chance to make their cases in public and to answer questions relating to their positions in public.

Given the 4/4 split Council votes transparency is needed. Not opaqueness.

However, these hearings won’t just happen.

Opponents and supporters both need to request them from the Minister of Planning, The Hon. Rob Stokes.

But in order to do that you need to write to the Minister and respectfully request public hearings for the CCCC DA’s here in Coffs Harbour prior to any final decision is made.

Outline your reasoning and highlight some of the reasons you either oppose or support the DA for the proposed project.

You can contact Minister Stokes at via the NSW correspondence portal at: https://www.nsw.gov.au/your-government/ministers/minister-for-planning-and-public-spaces/

9 Comments

  1. A well-constructed article that calls upon the community to ACT NOW.

    For this Council to press on without regard to the 15,000 signatures on the Petition and without regard to the Objections, says that the Coffs Harbour City Council is MORALLY & ETHICALLY BANKRUPT in my opinion.

    It is true that Council goes into caretaker mode in June. It is also true that the community “might”, if they are lucky, get new leadership, but there is no guarantee that high quality candidates will raise their hands to inherit a MESS.

    I urge all to write to the Minister.

  2. So easy to submit via the link.
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. Aleksandra Pavlic

    Hearings are required! Given that the current offices were built to allow for upward expansion (Rigby House) and that one level is l believe currently leased there is sufficient metreage.

    It appears council workers and their family’s are supportive of new offices. I was unofficially advised that there is a warning to staff not to speak against the DA submission.

    Why have so many showering cubicles been included in design? Will council workers be given an ultimatum not to use their cars?

    In Melbourne, many Councils open a shop front in shopping complexes for bill payments and applications for all and sundry.

    There is a high vacancy rate of shops in general and ‘Central’ has lost the CBA branch, Council could instead utilise this space which is connected to the car park mentioned in DA proposal.

  4. Richard McDermott

    I wonder if the four Councillors of the CHCC that want to push ahead with the immensely unpopular Council Chambers/ Cultural Centre project understand or worse don’t care that they are complicit in the disintegration of our Australian democracy.
    Sounds over the top? Well it’s not.
    Situations just as we have going on within the CHCC are more common that many think and are adding to the total disenchantment of Australians and especially young Australians with the political process and they are simply disengaging with the institutions allowing a small minority of the rich and powerful to take an even greater stranglehold on all of our three levels of government delivering benefits for themselves on the back of those who do the work and pay the taxes.
    Democracy doesn’t start and end at the ballot box and neither should participation, citizens must have as much say in the directions their elected representatives take as those representatives have themselves and those bureaucrats that are employed by our political institutions must be equally as supportive of the citizens as they are of the elected representatives. There must be transparency in all their actions with no connection with third parties and the use of the concept of ‘commercial in confidence’ must be limited greatly from its present overarching position.
    Councils have been dismissed for illegal activities but they should equally be scrutinised for their decision making in regard to the wishes and needs of those they have been elected to represent.
    What is happening in the CHCC at present is seriously questionable. The Mayor has abused her power in the way she has approached this project in my opinion and no binding decisions regarding the progression of this project must be made by Council until a full cost benefit analysis is undertaken with all the information being open and available.
    A new definition of consultation must be put in place that allows equal information sharing between the consulting parties and all connections between Councillors, Council staff and developers must be made open to be scrutinised by the public who are of course those who will have to make the decision about who they elect the next time a ballot is taken.

    • You make some extremely valid and pertinant points Richard.

      The four Councillors of the CHCC who want to push ahead with the immensely unpopular Council Chambers/ Cultural Centre project “are complicit in the disintegration of our Australian democracy” in my opinion.

      We often talk about this issue at Federal and State levels but in Australia for better or worse we have three levels of government and essentially all politics is local.

      Ramming through a highly contentious project seemingly short, if not devoid, of full information and when all of the Council votes on it have been continuously tied is seen by many ratepayers as an outrageous affront.

      In a situation like this the status quo should remain and voters should make a decision on whether to go ahead this September with no contracts in place for the project at that time.

      What many people here on the Coffs Coast see happening strikes them as being an unseemly rush that is being done because in their opininon ‘dirty deals appear to have been done dirt cheap.’

      That is anything but good for democracy. I believe it undermines it.

      And tomorrow night Councillors should refuse to approve any proposed contracts relating to Gordon Street until the full audit/peer review they voted for last August is done and made public and the Department of Planning and Environment has gone through their process thoroughly. Then, and only then, should the whole thing can be presented to voters in September in 7 months time.

      Nothing else will be good enough.

    • Chris Bramley

      Thank you Richard. I cannot add any more.

  5. I really don’t think our Council is ready for this major development. What we need is a very good entertainment centre where there is excellent available parking and a centre that will cater for a large crowd.
    Present Council building was built with the idea of adding additional levels and even bricks were purchased to cover this. What has happened to them?
    I am also concerned at the cost of this project which will blow out over the course of time. Coffs Harbour cannot afford it.
    What about the maintenance costs of cleaning windows etc etc.
    Definitely a public hearing should be considered as it is obvious that 15,000 signatures against the project seems to have no standing.

  6. After last nights council meeting debacle I don’t think any councilors should be reelected.

    And as for General Manager he could not even answer simple questions. And his senior staff were no better.They are all in over their depth.

    Time for a new Council.

  7. Being in attendance last night I was shocked.

    Shocked by the arrogance and rudeness of the For Councillors to the Councillors speaking out against the motions and the public speakers, that they were so prepared to rush this ahead when they have no DA approval yet, no concrete grants in place and were unable to provide financials to the residents to assure them that council can fund repayments of required loans when this was requested by Councillor Swan some six months ago.

    The General Manager was unable to answer questions when he is on one of the highest salaries for a Council GM in NSW, and the Mayor yet again casting the Chairperson’s vote when she had been reported in the local paper as saying she would not do again.

    This council needs to be investigated.

    They are rushing to get this through. Why?

    Editors note: Actually Carmel we think you’ll find it was Cr Townley who requested the independent audit of the financials six months ago – something we are pretty sure that a clear majority of Councillors voted for at the time.

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