Work is continuing on the Forster Civic Precinct project, which will ultimately deliver a number of MidCoast Council facilities to the community including a new public library, visitor information centre and customer service point.
The building is being undertaken by developer Enyoc, who entered an agreement with Council for the design and construction of these community facilities.
The $18 million project cost is a joint project between Council, the Federal Government and Enyoc, with each party contributing $6 million.
A modification to the original development application was approved by the Hunter and Central Coast Regional Planning Panel in August 2021.
This modification allowed for changes to the residential aspect of the development, and did not impact on the community facilities the project will provide.
Details of the modification approval can be found Mixed Use Development | Planning Portal - Department of Planning and Environment (nsw.gov.au).
Following this determination, work on site has returned to normal, following a reduction to minor works during 2020-21 due to financial difficulties experienced by the developer as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Summary of project
Construction commenced on Forster's Civic Precinct in January 2019, with Stage One of the build incorporating Council facilities including:
- new public library of 2,000m² including offices, meeting rooms and amenities
- indoor and outdoor public community space capable of accommodating at least 200 people
- MidCoast Council Customer Service Centre
- a Visitor Information Centre of 100m² including office space and shared community lounge with the library
- over 180 car parking spaces, disabled parking spaces and associated roadworks
- community green spaces and gardens.
A development agreement has been entered into between Enyoc and Council for the design and construction of these community facilities. The agreement also allows for the residual of the site to be developed by Enyoc for commercial purposes, over several stages, which include facilities such as residential apartments, retail shops, supermarket, hotel and a gymnasium.
You can view all documents associated with the development application, planning proposal and development agreement to the right of this page. For an overview of the project, view the video below.
Federal Member for Lyne, Dr David Gillespie says "this project is an outstanding gain for the MidCoast region as a whole, with sustained benefits for the local economy. The National Stronger Regions Fund investment of $6 million is a significant contribution to the development of new community facilities on site."
Check out the designs below
What's the Civic Precinct Project about?
The impetus for the civic precinct project began some ten years ago with two events. In 2007, the Forster School of Arts Hall had become unsafe for continued community use and was decommissioned. This left our community without valuable meeting space in the Forster CBD.
At around the same time, it was becoming apparent to the community that the Great Lakes Library building was an inadequate size - only half the NSW Library minimum recommended size for the community it serves.
The former Great Lakes Council began to investigate and plan for meeting these needs after the community indicated very emphatically this was a high priority for them.
In addition, Forster's Visitor Information Centre building was in need of expensive maintenance.
The land on which the Visitor Information Centre and the former Forster School of Arts Hall stood became the focus for a plan for the civic precinct, which would also house a new, larger library for the community. Initial plans were developed, but the small site required an expensive underground car park, and Council was seeking funding to undertake this project. It was ultimately determined that the former School of Arts site was not adequate to house the project and the focus turned to other suitable sites.
The site, located on the corner of Lake, West and Middle Streets, was acquired with the intent of utilising part of the land for the Council facilities and exploring commercial opportunities for the development of the rest of the land.
This strategic purchase for $3 million allowed the development of community facilities with improved car parking options. Council had resolved to invest $6 million to build the community facilities. Very soon after this purchase, Council was successful in obtaining Federal grant funding of $6 million, matched dollar for dollar by Council. This exciting development meant we could now build a $12 million community facility on the civic precinct site.
In 2015, Council resolved to investigate the possibility of entering into a commercial arrangement with a developer to allow a mix of private and public use of this valuable site close to Forster's CBD. After seeking expressions of interest from the market for the project, Council entered into an agreement with Enyoc, who will provide Council with $6 million in-kind towards building the community facilities for the project - a great outcome for MidCoast ratepayers. The total cost of the Project will be approximately $18 million.
The planning proposal was approved by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment in August 2017 and conditional approval of development application by the Joint Regional Planning Panel occurred on 20 September 2017.
A development agreement has been entered into between Enyoc and Council for the design and construction of community facilities, which include a modern library space, new visitor information centre and flexible community space. The agreement also allows for the residual of the site to be developed by Enyoc for commercial purposes, over several stages, which include facilities such as seniors living apartments, retail shops, supermarket, hotel and a gymnasium.
With the decision to relocate central Council office functions to one head office at Yalawanyi Ganya, Biripi Way Taree, the Forster Civic Precinct will now also contain the MidCoast Council customer service centre in addition to the facilities outlined above.
The JRPP resolved that separate development consent should be sought for a proposed cinema, nightclub and child care centre, which was not granted approval as part of the recent approval.
You can read the full decision on JRPP's website page.
On 8 August 2017 Council entered into a development agreement with Developer Enyoc Pty Ltd (as trustee for the Graham Dong Family Trust) which provides that the Developer will carry out and complete the design and construction of certain Council works at the Civic Precinct site in Forster (corner of Lake, West and Middle Streets). Council’s works comprise the construction of a new library, visitor information centre, customer service centre and flexible community space.
The development agreement requires the Developer to complete the Council works (at the Developer’s risk and cost) in return for consideration of $15.3 million (plus GST). Payments are made to the Developer progressively under the agreement on a monthly basis having regard to the works undertaken at the time of each progress claim. Prior to each monthly payment, the claim is assessed by an independent certifier to confirm that the value of the works claimed have been completed.
The Developer has engaged Global Construction Corporation Pty Ltd as its builder to carry out the Council works. However, all contractual obligations concerning the Council works rest with the Developer, and Council is not a party to the building contract.
Due to the size and nature of the project, Council is not able to be the Principal Certifier for this project, and the Developer has appointed a private certifier for this purpose. The private certifier (not Council) is responsible for building and construction compliance.
Council has secured $6 million in funding from the Federal Government as part of the National Stronger Regions Fund towards the Council works and payments are made by the Federal Government to Council on a progressive basis (based on the achievement of milestones).