Mayor Denise Knight is a strong supporter of the project but Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock has spoken out against it.
Mayor Denise Knight is a strong supporter of the project but Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock has spoken out against it.

DA update on Cultural and Civic Space

WITH the NSW Government encouraging local councils to pursue major infrastructure projects to keep the economy alive, the Advocate has questioned the time taken to assess the development application for the Cultural and Civic Space.

The DA is currently with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and received over 800 submissions during the public exhibition period.

Speaking to the Advocate earlier in the year, planning officer Rodger Roppolo said the project was a stand out.

"It's probably the most contentious project I've worked on given the amount of objections received," Mr Roppolo said.

Mr Roppolo says he is no longer authorised to speak to the media.

Council was given the deadline of January 20 to respond to the submissions but requested an extension due to the sheer volume.

So now with all the paper work in place and the NSW Government encouraging councils across the state to fast track major infrastructure projects DPIE has provided the following update:

"The Department is currently undertaking its rigorous assessment of the application before making its recommendation to the Minister (Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes) for determination," a spokesperson from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment said.

"The Coffs Harbour Cultural and Civic Space proposal has generated significant community interest, and the Department will consider all issues raised by the community, council and other Government agencies in its assessment."

The Cultural and Civic Space will include a new library and art gallery.
The Cultural and Civic Space will include a new library and art gallery.

Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock has previously come out in opposition to the Gordon St proposal so it will be an anxious wait for those Councillors passionate about seeing the vision realised.

RELATED: Minister takes to commercial radio to call for a halt on Cultural and Civic Space

State Member Gurmesh Singh has also been very critical.

RELATED: 'TONE-DEAF': MP slams council's 'obsession' with project

The proposal has divided councillors four:four on a number of occasions with Mayor Denise Knight sometimes using her deciding vote to progress the project.

Cr Tegan Swan, along with Crs John Arkan, Paul Amos and Keith Rhoades walked out of a July Council meeting in July denying a quorum to vote on the matter.
Cr Tegan Swan, along with Crs John Arkan, Paul Amos and Keith Rhoades walked out of a July Council meeting in July denying a quorum to vote on the matter.

There have also been claims of political interference from former Nationals Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser who has been a vocal critic of the project.

RELATED: Fraser slams 'greatest waste of money ever seen

These claims stemmed from a freedom of information request, under what's now known as the Government Information Public Access (GIPA) Act, which revealed the project was recommended for $9m in funding from the State Government's Regional Cultural Fund. An independent panel ranked it 16th in a list of over 150 projects but this but the funds were never forthcoming.

RELATED: Freedom of information search shows project was recommended for $9m

Mr Fraser denies any political interference.



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