Local, Opinion/Comment

In 2012 the Coffs Harbour City Council voted to dispose of 21-31 Gordon Street. Huh!?

By the Editor

It is August 9 2012 and six weeks out from new Council elections soon to be new Coffs Harbour City Council Mayor, Denise Knight (pictured), is co-sponsoring an important motion with former fellow Councillor, Kerry Hines, for Councillors to consider at that night’s council meeting.

The motion is headed ‘Review of future major civic infrastructure requirements and council’s commercial property holdings’.

All things considered it seems a pretty boring, mundane and benign heading.  But just over seven years later it becomes more than just ‘passing strange’ particularly given Council rushed through by 6 votes to 2 last Thursday 14 September a motion to fast track and increase stage one funding of the new Gordon Street Civic Centre/Council Chambers by 300%.

Why is it more than just a bit ‘passing strange’?

Consider that the motion aims “to seek Council endorsement of the outcome of a review of the provision of future major civic infrastructure (FMCI) requirements and Council’s commercial property holdings.”

Furthermore the resolution spells out “that Council’s role in the revitalisation of the CBD is as a facilitator/economic development catalyst (such as the development of the CBD Master Plan)   and not that of a developer in its  own right.”

And one key component of this is that “Council accept the following recommendations of the Savill Report in relation to Council’s Commercial Property Holdings:

  1. Dispose of 23-31 Gordon Street, Coffs Harbour (my emphasis added)
  2. Develop CBD parking and transport strategy.”

Sorry, what? Twenty three to thirty one Gordon Street? The old Salvos Building?  Brought by the CHCC?  ”Dispose” of it?  But isn’t that where the Council announced in the past 18 months that they wanted to build a Museum, Art Gallery and Library for approximately $35m?  A concept that has now blown out to $76m in part due to a more recent plan to make it the location for new Council chambers and offices too?

So what happened?  Why wasn’t it “disposed of”?  If it didn’t sell what makes Council so sure other assets it has on a list to fund the new ‘Gordon Street Palace’, (as someone described it to me this week), will sell for their desired asking price?

Why has Coffs Harbour’s current  Mayor gone from being a proponent of disposing this land in Gordon Street to being a major advocate of the estimated $76m Civic/Council Centre to be built by the Council as sole developer on the very same site?

All despite the same motion stating that Council “confirm that although desirable and preferable, it is not essential for the Council Administration Building to be in a single location.”

Note also another part of the motion, that after several potential amendments, was passed unchanged;

                 “Council resolve not to quarantine the City Hill site for an Entertainment Centre and Art Gallery”.

A few more thoughts and questions come to mind. Namely, has this successfully passed Council motion ever been formally rescinded? Does it need to be rescinded?  If so when and if not why not?  And if it has not been rescinded what does that mean for successive motions in relation to 21-31 Gordon Street and also subsequent CBD plans?

Perhaps a reader with some expertise in law and/or the relevant local government legislation might be able to enlighten us. In the meantime we will ‘keep digging’ too.

However, like I say, ‘passing strange’ indeed.

It is interesting what some research of archives can uncover.  A big thanks to my old mate ‘Cob’ on this one.

There will be more to come. “Watch this space”.

2 Comments

  1. Grenville Duce

    Abracadabra: Now you see it – now you don’t..!

  2. I’m going to have a wild guess at this one;
    “Council resolve not to quarantine the City Hill site for an Entertainment Centre and Art Gallery”.

    Is it because in their ‘wisdom’ Council think they are going to get State Government to relinquish the gift title so that council can flog City Hill to a developer after hastily re-zoning it residential?

    This lot need to be stopped.

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