Local, Politics

Gordon Street “a rate payer funded Port Macquarie Glasshouse”?

The following is one of the public speeches given in support of the recission motion and against the current Gordon Street proposal at the Coffs Harbour City Council meeting last Thursday 25 July. It is published unabridged.

By Jan Lindrum

Madam Mayor, Councillors, People of Coffs Harbour.

This City needs a CULTURAL CENTRE.

What this City does not need is:

  • a rate payer funded Port Macquarie Glasshouse (pictured below); constructed in a congested space; managed by a Council; that bleeds at the rate of $7 million dollars per annum;
  • a facility which ensures that the only performance space the people of Coffs Harbour will ever have is one built inside the Coffs Ex-Servicemen’s Club.
Port Macquarie’s ‘Glasshouse’ ended up running far over budget and with a large annual maintenance bill higher than was anticipated

$76.522,000 million dollars & RISING.

The cart is before the horse.

No evidence to support the stated costings or value of existing assets has been made public.

There needs to be transparency by:

1.     DISCLOSURE of the Valuation by Savills and critical assumptions; and

2.     The Quantity Surveyor’s cost estimates which, in the Architect’s words include an “ALLOWANCE”,

I stress here, AN ALLOWANCE, AN ALLOWANCE of $36 million dollars for library, museum and gallery.



YET in the Motion on 11 July last, four Councillors voted to enter into arrangements binding ratepayers to expend massive ratepayer dollars and sell ratepayer assets on assumptions NOT on actual costings or facts.

Council says: This building will cost $76.522,000 million dollars – AND RISING. How do they know? (Look at the Sydney Light Rail project. Racing in. No due diligence, spiralling costs, legal bills, compensation)

(2)   Council SAYS it will reap $20 million from the sale of existing assets. Where are the facts?

(3)   Council SAYS government will provide grants for the gallery, museum and library. Where is the evidence?

The Federal Government granted CITY HILL (below) for a performing arts centre, a museum, a gallery, a library and compatible hospitality & community uses.

The 2010 CHCC plans for City Hill

A stand-alone facility will generate revenue, create employment, can be developed as a public/private partnership AND, like MONA in Hobart, has the potential to generate massive tourist visitation.

ART & CULTURE will attract thousands but the offering needs to be UNIQUE, not a limited gallery/museum in a Council Chambers jammed up against an old concrete carpark where parking is already at a premium and traffic already congested.

MONA in Hobart attracts over 350,000 visits per annum in a City of 220,000 people. It has transformed Hobart and the rest of Tasmania.

It is 9 minutes from the CBD, constructed on 3 1/2 hectares of land.

COUNCIL SAYS: 200,000 people per annum will visit Gordon Street? With respect, the carpark and CBD will be clogged, choked, unfriendly.

CITY HILL is the GATEWAY to Coffs Harbour.

Hectares of prime land.

Easily accessible from all directions and has ample space for at-grade parking, including for school and tourist buses.

Step back and properly explore the alternatives.

(1) CITY HILL granted by the Federal Government with an obligation recorded on the title for our Cultural Centre; AND

(2) Redevelopment of the existing landmark Council Chambers in accord with the Government Architect’s original plans which can be paid for by the sale of the Gordon Street site.

I URGE COUNCILLORS, not to shackle the people of this City when there are commercially viable options.

The mistake of the expenditure of $2 million dollars can be forgiven. BUT EXPENDITURE OF $76.522 million dollars AND RISING will not be.

Madam Mayor, this WAS NOT a matter for a “casting vote”. Please vote for the Rescission to allow a more considered position. A delay of 3 months is better than crippling costs and debts for decades to come.

Jan Lindrum

Editors note: We are happy to publish the other public speeches, both for and against, as delivered to Council on either 11 or 25 July.

Just send as a Word document to this email address; [email protected]


  1. robert walter yandell

    A truly inspirational address full of logic, common sense and passion.

    • Billie Dale

      A lot of credibility here. Is this the same Robert Yandell commenting who piloted the crash of elements estate on top of smelly hill adjacent to the tip. Stadium drive precinct?

  2. Precisely Jan Lindrum. Too many iffs, buts, rubbery figures and sweeping statements to be seriously considered in the current format. Also if it is time to build, to undertake debt which is a normal practice to create infrastructure, lets do it well. We have the perfect site at City Hill to create a bona fide cultural centre. Not a new (badly needed) gallery, museum and library facility “tacked on” to justify new council chambers. There are differing objections to this project. All need to be addressed. Those opposing purely on expenditure may be mollified if expenditure/borrowing is reduced by government grants that should be forthcoming for purely cultural building. Regardless, we cannot afford, literally, to be steamrollered into a project that has been so negatively by sections of the community.

  3. As I have said before in comments….Janne C Lindrum …it was an Oscar 5 min speech !!!
    Keith Rhoades commented the Best speech he has heard at a council meeting in 25 years.
    Very ACCURATE & Very POWEFULL …and I can still hear the Applause ringing in my ears from listening too the live Audio.
    I admire you Janne C Lindrum for your generosity of your time ,expertise and Professionalism….which Coffs Council lacks!!!

    I think in hindsight Coffs Council did you a favouring not inviting you too speak at July 11th meeting ( with the mystery missing email) as speaking at July 25th with an overflowing public gallery and the events that followed after July 11th meeting…your timing was PERFECT in your delivery speech and applauded by the Majority.

    Thankyou, Thankyou Janne C Lindrum. 🙂

    Kind regards Max

  4. Dear Billie, I feel a need to respond on Robert’s behalf. Robert Yandell was first to achieve a DA for a town centre in the State of NSW in 50 years. His remarkable efforts, in bringing landowners together, and negotiating with authorities, led to the creation of mass employment and provision of homes for couples, families and downsizes and to generating revenue for his employer. He then put his shoulder to the wheel, achieving a DA for the Elements Estate. This Estate has created big business for local industry, including engineers, surveyors, traffic experts, geotechnical engineers, town planner, archaeologist, environmental experts, builders and craftsmen/women and real estate agents. Ask yourself, how many brand new homes have been built in this Estate? Robert has had no ownership in the Estate since prior to commencement of the development. It is a tragedy when grand efforts are besmirched. Eradicating the disease known as the “Tall Poppy Syndrome” is long overdue. Janne C Lindrum

  5. Dear Robert, Robyn and Max, THANK YOU most sincerely for your kind and generous words. I am deeply grateful. Jan

  6. Jim Cooper

    Janne, you are way off the mark with respect to Elements Estate and its history. I respect your comments and position on the Cultural Centre though.

  7. Thank you for your support for my views on the Cultural Centre. Much appreciated. Jan

  8. Gabrielle Brabander

    Repayments for principal plus interest have to come from somewhere. Because we can borrow does not mean we should.
    lf, as a council our surplus is such that every year we currently have that money laying around to spend, then why do we have streets without kerb and guttering, why are the pools in Sawtell and Woopi not upgraded, why are the bins overflowing around the jetty in summer, and why do our rates continually rise?
    Attaching Council Admin Offices to this building means NO govt funding will be available, therefore our community pays for it. Every person in our LGA (surprising to some that it extends beyond the CBD) will pay for it in increased rates, or loss/rationing of services. As it stands today, that is approx $1000 for every single person in our LGA, plus interest and variations.
    So far, the financial reports from those with a vested interest (CHCC/Architects and Chamber Of Commerce) tell us what they think it will cost (quantity survey is NOT an actual budget but a guess), how we can sell assets and borrow money. None of these reports include costings for redevelopment of Gordon Street and Riding Lane. Nor do they tell us the ongoing maintenance costs of this type of building. l too can engage a consultant and tell them what l need the outcome to reflect. l can also produce meaningless, glossy propoganda spruiking council rhetoric.
    Nobody from CHCC has told us how this will be repaid, or what the contingency is if the assets cannot be sold or values realised.
    At a council meeting in June 2018, Cr. Amos asked a pertinent, but as yet unanswered question with regards to the cost of this project, ‘do my fellow councillors have a walkaway figure?’. This question is vital considering there is not an actual build estimate in place via contract, what about variations (presumably at the discretion of the GM)?
    If this project gets the go ahead, and the costs blowout, then there is no stopping, council will keep handing over our money. As it stands, without building variations or street realignment, factoring in only interest, this is a start figure today, of $100 million.
    CHCC are prepared to financially overburden ratepayers and residents by allowing the (justifiable) need for better art and library facilities to be hijacked by this monster project at exorbitant cost. Council get new offices, and CBD business pull the strings again behind the scenes.
    The arts and wider community, despite paying for it, are NOT winners from this…

  9. John Christie

    Thank you Jan for such a great speech, the contents of such would be agreeable to the majority of residents. However, it does seem that some councillors, the mayor and council management just don’t get it. Hopefully, sanity will prevail.

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