In response to longstanding community calls for a regional art gallery, planning for the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre was initiated by Council in June 1998.
Rather than have a stand-alone regional gallery, the Council decided to pursue an innovative model – a Cultural Centre incorporating a City Art Gallery and Interpretive Centre to reflect the community’s strong attachment to the arts and its identity as a City within a World Heritage National Park environment.
The TAFE East site in the Katoomba CBD was identified as the preferred location for the Cultural Centre at the Katoomba Charrette consultations in October 1998. Following further extensive consultations by Council with the Blue Mountains community and visitors throughout 1999, the NSW Government agreed to include the Centre as a part of a mixed use development proposed for the former TAFE East site and to contribute funding towards construction of the Cultural Centre.
Council and the State Government considered a number of options for development of the site and, following an extensive expression of interest process, negotiated with the preferred developer over a number of years. In 2004 Council agreed to include the development of a new Katoomba Library in the project and allocated capital funds toward the cultural facilities and associated civic works. Master planning for the site was undertaken and design concepts developed for a building that would include retail and car parking space in addition to a high profile Cultural Centre.
An agreement between the parties (the NSW Government, Council and the Coles group) was signed in December 2005. The reclassification and rezoning of the site was gazetted in May 2006. The initial design concepts were further evolved during 2006 incorporating community feedback. The developed design and costing phase was completed and further funding commitments were achieved in 2007. The DA was submitted in August 2007 and approved in July 2008. The project has also received support from the Australian Government through the Better Regions and Green Precincts Fund programs.
After more than a decade of planning, The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre opened in November 2012.