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Councillors back $1.5m hub plan

Friday, 28th September, 2018

Mayor Darriea Turley Mayor Darriea Turley

By Emily Roberts

The decision to award a $1.5m tender to develop plans for a library and community hub has been generally well-received amongst local Councillors.

At Wednesday night’s Council meeting, during the confidential matters, Councillors voted to award the tender of the Library design plans to the company Neeson Murcutt Architects for $1.48m.

Councillor Branko Licul said this was a significant tender but believed a quality plan would be developed.

“Council voted to accept the tender to design a new library and surrounding cultural precinct so that we could deliver the best possible facility/s for the whole community,” he said.

“It is a significant tender. 

“A quality plan is required in order to get the best outcome when it comes to progressing to development stage, for a project of this size and depth.”

Mayor Darriea Turley said it was important to get this plan right from the start.

“The community remembers when the previous Council wanted to move the library to a rented building, but we put the pause button on that,” Mayor Turley said.

“After extensive community consultation, we decided the back of the Town Hall facade would be better suited.

“We had many focus group sessions, pop-ups and consultations. It was well received.

“What we want to do now is develop a project and get it right from the beginning.

“This hub is an opportunity for a Broken Hill legacy for the community.

“It is a step forward, and for me, will address concerns with Argent Street and create a community hub that the community deserves.

“This is stage one of the planning.”

Mayor Turley said once the planning is complete they will look to lobby the government for funding.

“We don’t want any surprises, we want a detailed plan that can be submitted for a development application.

“It’s an exciting time and we didn’t take this decision lightly.”

However Clr Tom Kennedy said it was a considerable amount of money for something the community might not want.

“Council has voted to award a tender of $1.48m to Neeson Murcutt Architects for the library, community hub and cultural project to provide a range of things to ready it to a stage where we as a community will know the cost,” he said. 

“It is my opinion that Council should have taken this to the community for consultation as $1.48m is a lot of money to find out the cost to build a new library/hub and might not be the community’s preferred project. 

“It is also my opinion that the final cost for this project could be as high as $15m, that Council at this stage doesn’t have, and I’m not convinced that the community rates a new library/hub as the most important thing. 

“This is not a criticism of the Council decision but simply stating I do not agree with it.”

Clr Maureen Clark said the planning has potential to develop a fantastic space.

“It certainly seems like a large amount of money, so we have to make sure we get quality work with that money.

“And once we get to the construction stage we need something that the community will love and is supportive of.

“The company will be looking at a number of different designs that we can get and put out for public consultation.

“The public then get to make the decision. This cultural hub will incorporate many spaces.

“I had attended many of the public consultation sessions and people had many ideas.

“For a company to satisfy everyone’s desires, we needed someone at the top of their range.

“We need to get it right first and that will help us save money in the long run.”

Clr Bob Algate said the cost was worrying.

“I believe it was the wrong decision as Council has decided to do it, Councillors have to run with it,” Clr Algate said.

“Spending $1.5m on concepts and scenarios, for someone to tell us what we need and we don’t know the end result.

“It is worrying especially when Council doesn’t have a great deal of spare cash.

“They need to consult the community on what they want.

“It needs to come from the perspective views of the community.

“Then we get plans to match that and see what it will cost.”

Clr Ron Page said he liked the idea of the community hub.

“Overall, the proposal is a great idea, my concern is the cost to do the drawings without consulting with the community.

“Surely we could find a local architect to draw up something that won’t cost too much.

“The hub will be a good idea for the younger generation but it’s the community’s money and they should get to have a say.

“We need to rally together and look after each other for the future of Broken Hill.”

Deputy Mayor Marion Browne said Councillors that attended the briefing by Neeson Murcutt were very impressed and could see the potential to have these plans.

“A huge deal of work went into it as well as the Council staff on the selection panel working hard to select the best candidates.

“Timing is critical when it comes to looking for funding.

“We can maximise that opportunity with the State and Federal elections coming up.

“Now is the time to be asking for funding, if we have a fully developed plan that is ready to go.

“We conducted enough public consultation to know that people are solidly behind the community hub and having it located behind the Town Hall Facade.”

She said the cost might seem a lot, but it will pay off in the long run.

“Perhaps the cost, at first sight, was a bit eye watering. But it will give us a top class plan and, according to the GM, a project that will be better managed than those in the past.

“We can create a cultural hub that is reflective of what the community wants.

“At the end of the day, I think it will be a really special facility in the heart of the city that will revive the centre of Argent Street.”

Clr Jim Nolan said the town deserves a ‘bigger and better library’.

“To do it justice requires a significant amount of money in drawing up the plans.

“It wasn’t the cheapest quote, but it wasn’t the most expensive quote, on balance it was the best quote.

“The aim is to develop an all-inclusive community hub that Broken Hill deserves.

“It’s important to be getting on with it.”

Clr Nolan said there was the potential to incorporate the BHP Foundation funding with the archives and approach the governments for funding.

“If it’s worth doing, it needs to be done right.”

Clr Christine Adams was also contacted for a comment and Clr Dave Gallagher was an apology from the meeting.

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