New plan of action for Showground

COFFS Harbour Showground, an 11 ha (27 acre) site in the centre of the city, is to become the focus of a major plan for its future.

Yesterday the recently-appointed administrator of the Showground, Kate Young, said a planning company had been engaged to look at the long-term strategic use of the land with a view to preserving it in public ownership and increasing its use as much as possible.

She said there were 'absolutely not' any plans to use it for medium density housing as had been rumoured.

"I am expecting the consulting company to put forward a proposal in the next couple of months, then I want to invite user groups to come forward with suggestions," Ms Young said.

The site was described as a priceless community resource by the former Chairman of the Showground Trust, Paul Israel, who says most residents had no idea of the treasure under their noses.

The Showground was taken out of the hands of its local seven-member Trust in April by the State Government.

Its finances, stressed by the effort of repaying the loan for construction of the Norm Jordan Pavilion, were put in the hands of accountant Kate Young as administrator.

Mr Israel, who joined the trust after rumours began circulating 20 years ago that Coles wanted to buy the site for a supermarket, said Coffs Harbour would lose a golden opportunity to create an outstanding event venue if the site was auctioned.

He said the Showground had unlimited potential and if it could be linked with the city centre, the site could also be used for day parking for commuters.

While most people see only the Showground arena and its pavilions and parking near the highway, there is a huge amount of parkland on the site, which is larger than the Botanic Garden and Mr Israel said there was ample flood-free land to build an entertainment venue.

"It's bigger than the Botanic Garden," he said.

The Showground coped well with the 6000 people who used the venue for Ulysses AGM events last month, with the help of a temporary bridge to link it with Marcia Street.

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