'TONE-DEAF': MP slams council's 'obsession' with project
UPDATE: Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh has slammed the council's "obsession" with the Cultural and Civic Space Project.
Mr Singh was responding to comments made in a submission from the council that called out the State Government for removing references to the Cultural and Civic Space Project in its draft vision for the future of the city.
In the submission endorsed at Thursday night's council meeting, the council said the draft Regional City Action Plan appears to have removed references to the project as well as the importance of the city centre as the cultural heart of the city.
"Feedback on the Draft Coffs Harbour Regional City Action Plan was sought from all interested stakeholders and citizens. Some of the feedback to my office has indicated that there should be a greater focus on arts and culture. I agree," Mr Singh said.
"While arts and culture are certainly mentioned multiple times throughout the document, I do agree that arts and culture should have a separate sub-section similar to Sport.
"Council's obsession with its Gordon St project is short-sighted and tone-deaf in the current economic climate.
"Arts and culture in Coffs Harbour is about far more than just a deeply unpopular and expensive building comprising more than 50 per cent council administration."
A council spokesperson has since come forward stating Mr Singh's comment that the project has more than 50 per cent council administration was not correct.
"To correct the record, it should be clearly noted the council administration component of the Cultural and Civic Space is less than 30 per cent," the spokesperson said.
Submissions to the Draft Coffs Harbour Regional City Action Plan will close on 31 July. Visit www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/coffsharbourrcap
THURSDAY, JULY 23: Council calls out state government for 'glaring omission'
COFFS Harbour City Council is calling out the State Government for removing references to the Cultural and Civic Space Project in its draft vision for the future of the city.
At it's meeting on Thursday afternoon, councillors voted unanimously to endorse a submission to the draft Regional City Action Plan 2036, which is currently out for public consultation until July 31.
The submission notes the plan appears to have "significantly changed" from the version which the council sighted in late 2019, with the removal of references to the Cultural and Civic Space Project and the importance of the city centre as the cultural, civic and entertainment heart of the city.
"This is unexpected as it is at odds with numerous NSW Government policy documents that identify culture and cultural facilities as of being significant economic, educational and social wellbeing drivers," Ian Fitzgibbon, Council's Acting Director Sustainable Communities said.
Mayor Cr Denise Knight welcomed the plan, but said she was surprised by the "glaring omission."
"Overall, the Draft Plan is a very good plan and aligns well with many of council's own strategies and aspirations in growing our city as an economic centre that supports strong local employment while providing an attractive coastal lifestyle," Cr Knight said.
"But one glaring omission is the lack of reference to culture and cultural facilities in the city centre, which is very surprising.
"I'm very glad to see that the main point of Council's own submission for the consultation on the Draft Plan highlights this gap and provides some strong arguments for it to be included in the final Plan.
"I know that many locals working in the creative industries are also concerned and have got together and put in their own submissions on the lack of cultural references."
In its submission, the council recommends that references to the Cultural and Civic Space Project, performing arts spaces, cultural tourism and cultural infrastructure are reinstated in the plan.
It also highlights the council's eagerness to discuss financial assistance particularly on projects identified as collaborative partnership opportunities for both levels of government. These include:
- Supporting the activation of the city centre as an employment area and community gathering place.
- Council, in partnership with Transport for NSW and other stakeholders, developing a City Spine Renewal Strategy to maximise opportunities from the Coffs Harbour bypass project.
- Council, in partnership with Transport for NSW and other stakeholders, developing a future transport plan for the Coffs Harbour local government area.
- Property NSW and Council continuing to work with stakeholders and the community to develop and refine a concept plan for the Jetty Precinct that supports the community vision, is financially viable and is able to be implemented.
- Council, in conjunction with NSW Office of Sport and other stakeholders, delivering a regional sporting hub at South Coffs Harbour.
- Council, in conjunction with Southern Cross University, University of NSW, NSW Health and the Department of Education helping grow South Coffs Harbour as an integrated enterprise area.