The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre is one step closer to reality with the selection of the construction contractor announced by the developer, Coles Group Property Development, with project partners, Blue Mountains City Council and the State Government.
The successful contractor, Richard Crookes Constructions Pty Ltd, was awarded the tender for the contract from a field of six appropriately experienced Construction Contractors.
Mr Walter Kullen of Coles Group Property Development, stated, “This announcement is a significant milestone for the Parke St development and the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre project, which is a large and complex development undertaken by the Coles Group.”
Mayor, Cr Daniel Myles, welcomed the announcement stating, “The commencement of construction is most certainly the best Christmas present that Council and the community could receive.”
The total development involves the construction of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and the Katoomba Library, supermarket, retail area and car park.
Richard Crookes Constructions General Manager, Mr David Michel, was on-site at the announcement, stating, “We are absolutely delighted to be building this very significant and exciting project for the Blue Mountains community. Our team is looking forward to achieving some real progress in the new year.”
The State Government is contributing some $7.5 million towards the Cultural Centre precinct development (which includes the Katoomba Civic Centre redevelopment) in addition to $6.5million from Council, and $2.93 million by the Australian Government. The Coles Group is bearing the full cost of building the retail, car parking levels and adjacent approved precinct works.
Member for Blue Mountains, Phil Koperberg, stated, “This project is the centre piece and culmination of a $20 million investment by the NSW Government over the past decade to revitalise the Katoomba economy and enhance the tourism appeal of the Mountains, through such works as the upgrade of Echo Point, improvements to walking tracks in the national park, and more recently, the redevelopment of the Civic Centre into a community space.”
The completion of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and the broader Parke St development, including the new Katoomba Library, is expected to be in mid 2012.
The Mayor said, “The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre will be a vital cultural and educational facility for the Blue Mountains community and the wider region, featuring the City’s Regional Art Gallery and a state of the art World Heritage Interpretive Centre.”
“This site will also form part of the Blue Mountains Sustainable Precinct, one of only 13 Green Precincts projects funded by the Australian Government. ”
The recently completed Katoomba Civic Centre redevelopment will provide critical pedestrian connections between the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, the Library and the Katoomba CBD.
“The financial contribution towards this significant development, by the State and Federal Governments and Coles Group, is welcomed by Blue Mountains City Council and community”, said the Mayor.
Richard Crookes Constructions will advise site neighbours of any road closures required for construction work.
The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre has commenced with the turning of the first sod on the old TAFE East site in Parkes St, Katoomba last Thursday 15 April.
The commencement of construction was a momentous day for the anticipated Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, marking the end of a long gestation period for this significant project.
The Commencement Ceremony was attended by the Hon Phil Koperberg, Member for the Blue Mountains, representing the Premier, Kristina Keneally, the Hon Bob Debus, Member for Macquarie; the State and Federal government, project partners and members of the community.
Clr Daniel Myles, representing the Mayor at the ceremony, stated, “The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre is a large and complex development with multiple project partners, including the Council, Coles Group Property Development Pty Ltd (the Developer), Federal and State Governments.”
The total development involves the construction of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and the Katoomba Library, supermarket and retail area and car parking. In addition, the Council and the State Government are funding the Civic Centre redevelopment and the pedestrian connections between the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, the Library and the Katoomba CBD.
“The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre will be a vital cultural and educational facility for the Blue Mountains community and the wider region, featuring the City’s Regional Art Gallery and a state of the art World Heritage Interpretive Centre.
The Cultural Centre will include collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Arts in establishing the first regional node of National Centre for Creative Learning. The project is part of the Blue Mountains Sustainable Precinct, one of only ten Green Precincts projects funded by the Australian Government. ” said Clr Myles.
The completion of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and the broader Parke St development, including the new Katoomba Library, is expected to be in mid 2012.
“Stage 1 of the Katoomba Civic Centre Redevelopment is progressing on schedule in preparation for the completion of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre. The aim of the redevelopment is to achieve a new public connection to the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre as well as upgrading the well-used community facilities in the Civic Centre”, said Clr Myles.
Council is also currently expanding the Studleigh Place car park in Katoomba Street to accommodate the closure of the temporary car park on the site of the Parke St development during construction. Construction of the new single level public car park, which will allow for 34 additional car park spaces, is now well underway and completion will closely follow the start of the construction on the site of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre. College Lane will not be impacted during the early works.
The State government funded commuter car park, on the northern side of Katoomba Station, is also progressing well with completion expected in June 2010.
With the commencement of construction of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre now underway, the Director, Simon Ambrose, will be moving on to take up a new role as CEO of the Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association.
Mayor, Cr Adam Searle, said, “Mr Ambrose has successfully managed the complex planning phase of this very large and significant project since he undertook the role of Director in January 2007.
As Director, Simon has been a passionate advocate of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and has played a vital role in guiding its critical design and development phase.”
Mr Ambrose expressed mixed feelings at tendering his resignation from the position.
“It is with some regret that I leave the position, however, it is deeply satisfying that we have got the project to this critical point and that I leave knowing that it is in extremely capable hands”
“My support for the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and for the work of the Committees involved is undiminished, and it has been a pleasure and a privilege to be part of such a ground breaking project. The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, with its regional City Art Gallery and World Heritage Interpretive Centre will be an outstanding cultural facility for the community of the Blue Mountains, the wider region and beyond. I wish all concerned in this exciting project every success.
The Director Major Projects, Karin Hartog will adopt the project management role in the interim until the new Cultural Centre Director is recruited. The completion date for the project is anticipated to be mid 2012
The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre precinct is set to be a hive of activity in the coming year with the Council giving the green light to two critical projects.
The Council approved the selection of Freeman Ryan Design to provide the design and documentation required for the exhibition development and fit-out of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre World Heritage Interpretive Centre.
Mayor, Cr Adam Searle, stated, “Given our position as a City within a World Heritage National Park, the World Heritage Interpretive Centre is a vital component of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre development.
“State-of-the-art technology will be a feature of the World Heritage Interpretive Centre, within the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, which is due to start construction early next year.
The World Heritage Interpretive Centre will provide visitors with an orientation to the Blue Mountains environment, cultural heritage and history.
“The Council is confident that Freeman Ryan Design has the experience and innovation required for this project in order to meet the many visitor expectations of the World Heritage Interpretive Centre. They have extensive experience in similar projects in Australia and overseas.”
Freeman Ryan Design will commence a period of community consultation before developing exhibitions for the Interpretive Centre that showcase stories of the Blue Mountains, from ancient to modern times.
Director of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, Simon Ambrose, said that the Interpretive Centre will offer a fluid interaction between art, culture, education and the built and natural environments. It will include educational resources and experiences for locals and visitors alike, including school students.
“We want to capture the imagination of visitors, encouraging them to stay longer and to come back and bring their family and friends to also enjoy the experience.
At the same meeting on June 16, Development Consent was given for the redevelopment of the Katoomba Civic Centre. The main aim this project is to achieve a new public connection to the proposed new Blue Mountains Cultural Centre as well as upgrading the well used community facilities in the Civic Centre.
“The redevelopment will allow for a more functional and attractive pedestrian connection between Katoomba Street, the Civic Centre and arcade shops and also to the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, which is to be constructed on the old TAFE site”, continued Mayor Searle.
The redevelopment of the Katoomba Civic Centre will take place in two stages to allow for the retention of the library in its current location until such time as it can be relocated to the new premises within the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre building.
Construction on the new Civic Centre is expected to commence in October 2009 with preliminary work taking place between 25 to 27 August for the installation of gas mains and heating and security equipment in the existing Katoomba Library. With the exception of unforeseen construction work, residents are assured that the library will remain operational until such time as it is to be relocated.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and Blue Mountains City Council have announced a strategic collaboration to bring contemporary arts direct to the people of the Blue Mountains.
Following the announcement of the MCA redevelopment late last year, the Blue Mountains has been identified as the first regional location to partner in the MCA’s new cultural initiative, the National Centre for Creative Learning. ‘This is the first time such a collaboration has happened in Australia’, said the MCA’s CEO, Liz Ann Macgregor.
‘The MCA’s National Centre for Creative Learning (NCCL) will use broadband video conferencing to bring tutorials by world class contemporary artists – wherever they are in the world – to students both at the MCA and in our regional nodes across Australia.
This is an exciting new strategic relationship for the MCA and we are pleased that it is happening with the City of the Blue Mountains, a city within a World Heritage National Park and the first NSW City of the Arts. At the MCA we are determined to bring the arts to more and more Australians, wherever they live’, said Ms Macgregor.
Blue Mountains Mayor, Adam Searle, said Council was very pleased to have secured the relationship with the MCA. ‘It will bring arts and cultural resources to the Blue Mountains in ways never before seen anywhere in regional Australia’, he said.
‘It is a two way relationship that will strengthen the commitment of Council and the community to creating a culture of life-long learning in the city of Blue Mountains. The NCCL’s Blue Mountains node will enable the artists of the Blue Mountains to participate in creative learning programs by sharing their knowledge, talent and experience with the MCA, for the benefit of all.’
The Council’s aim to develop a landmark building featuring state-of-the-art cultural facilities for the Blue Mountains, achieved another critical milestone at last Tuesday night’s Council Meeting.
The Mayor, Clr Jim Angel announced that, “This historic decision, to approve the Development Application for works to commence on the old TAFE site in Katoomba, will provide for the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and the new Katoomba Library.
The Cultural Centre features a Regional City Art Gallery and World Heritage Interpretive Exhibition. The development includes retail outlets and two levels of car parking below the cultural facilities.
Ultimately this building will be linked to the revamped Civic Centre, Froma Lane and Carrington Place, providing pedestrian connections critical to the viability of not only the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre but to commercial activity in Katoomba Street. ”
Clr Terri Hamilton, Chairperson of the Katoomba Library Technical Advisory Panel added, “Residents will be able to enjoy a new, modern library that will be twice the size of the existing Katoomba library.”
The Mayor went on to state, “This project, which is a partnership between Blue Mountains City Council, the Department of State and Regional Development and the Coles Property Group Ltd, has also received significant Federal funding.
I would like to acknowledge the investment by both the State and Federal Governments in this major project. Our State Government partners have contributed $6.9 million to the development.”
The Minister for State Development, Ian Macdonald, said, “This will be a very significant milestone in the Government and Council’s efforts over a lengthy period to revitalise Katoomba’s town centre in a way that enriches the local community, enhances Katoomba’s tourism appeal, and strengthens the regional economy.”
The Hon. Bob Debus, Federal Member for Macquarie added, “The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre is an integral part of our continuing program to revitalise Katoomba that has previously seen projects like the upgrade of Echo Point.”
The pedestrian connections between Katoomba Street and the new Blue Mountains Cultural Centre have reached the design stage with the recent appointment of a team of consultants.
Council resolved at its May 13 meeting to accept the tender submitted by McGregor Westlake Architecture Pty Ltd (MWA) for the provision of consultancy services for the design and documentation for the Katoomba Civic Centre and laneway connections for the cost of $307,285.
“The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and new Katoomba Library are intended to showcase the Blue Mountains’ unique artistic life, world heritage environment and culture and provide a community, educational and cultural meeting place,” said mayor Jim Angel.
“Council’s aim is to develop a landmark building featuring public art, sustainable design principles and providing stat-of-the-art cultural and library facilities for the blue Mountains and adjoining regions.
It will be a remarkable cultural and educational precinct and inject fresh life into Katoomba.
The Cultural Centre precinct will be designed to allow the community to move easily between art, culture, education and townscape, so it is essential that strong connections are created to and from the site to the Katoomba town centre and to other parts of the CBD to contribute to the success of the project.
The Civic Centre, Froma Lane and Carrington Place pedestrian connections are critical to the viability of the Cultural Centre and in turn to the commercial activity in Katoomba Street. Council is confident that a quality consultant team has been selected and that the statement of requirements as outlined in the Request for Tender (RFT) document will be delivered to the community.
McGregor Weslake Architecture is the lead consultant of a design team made up of Nobis Architecture and Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture. All team members have an abiding interest and track record of projects in the public domain.”
Nobis Architecture is a local company based in Katoomba.
Council has received a welcome investment in its economic future with an announcement of $1.8m for the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre
Federal Local Government and Regional Development Minister, Anthony Albanese announced the election commitment at the recent Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils conference.
“The Federal Government acknowledges that Western Sydney is Australia’s third largest regional economy and an area experiencing significant infrastructure challenges,” said Mr Albanese.
Mayor Jim Angel responded that the funding represents a commitment from three levels of government to the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre.
The Cultural Centre funding has come at a time when Blue Mountains City Council is working towards a sustainable economic and cultural future for the region. Council will convene an economic development forum to consider the issues that impact on the growth of the local economy and on working and learning opportunities in the Blue Mountains.
To be held on 29 July, the forum aims to bring together stakeholders from business, education, the arts and government to tackle the challenges confronting our economic future.
“Without change, the City of Blue Mountains is facing a future of ageing population and static growth,” said Clr Angel. “The challenge is finding the right balance between growth, lifestyle and environment. It is important to stimulate investment and create jobs but at the same time we must not compromise the environmental and social values that make the Blue Mountains so appealing.”
The forum will look to answer key questions from the council’s community-endorsed 25 Year Strategy that will help ensure that the local economy is strengthened and diversified and that the Blue Mountains is a model for sustainable business and industry.
“The ideas that come from the forum will be used to shape an economic development strategy for the region’s future, starting with a five-year action plan,” said Clr Angel.
CULTURAL CENTRE COMMITTEE APPOINTED
Blue Mountains City Council has appointed four community members to the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and Katoomba Library Advisory Committee.
The new members are John Marsh, Dr Peter Shepherd, Martin Thomas and Cheryl Yin-Lo.
They join Jason Ardler, Director, Cultural Heritage Division, Department Environment and Conservation; Wendy Carlson, Convenor, Central West Heritage Network; Deborah Ely, CEO Bundanon Trust (Deputy Chair); John Kirkman, CEO Penrith Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Lewers Bequest & Penrith Regional Gallery and Tony Nesbitt, Manager, Arts Programming, Sydney Olympic Park Authority, who have also been appointed to the committee.
Mayor Jim Angel said the Committee will help steer the Cultural Centre project through to completion.
“I feel confident that the proposed community members and regional organisational members, together with the Chair, Joan Domicelj AM, will bring a breadth and depth of expertise and local experience to the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and Katoomba Library Advisory Committee,” Cr Angel said.
“Council sought expressions of interest from individuals residing or working in the Blue Mountains who possess the personal attributes, experience and skills required to make a positive contribution to the working of the Committee.”
“We received 16 nominations and we have the capacity to appoint three additional members as needs arise and as the project requirements develop.”
An Assessment Panel of the Mayor, General Manager, Chair of the Advisory Committee and Cultural Centre Director met to assess applications on the basis of the criteria and the overall mix of skills, expertise and attributes required to maximise the effectiveness of the Committee.
A visual perspective of the exterior of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre design which internationally renowned Sydney architects HASSELL has been developing over the past months has been released today.
Leading Sydney architect and chairman of HASSELL Ken Maher said that the design concept for the cultural precinct in Katoomba is inspired by the form and materials of the special landscape of the heritage region.
The design statement description outlined:
“The location of the site near the top of the hill on Parke Street offers a unique opportunity to create a dramatic elevated platform that focuses on and accentuates the outstanding setting of the World Heritage Mountains.
Our design concept is inspired by the form and materials of this special landscape.
Gently vaulted and delicate roofs respect the undulating forms of the mountain ranges, and emphasise the directional nature of the views. The repetition of the roof forms gives a unity to the architecture, and reinforces the motif of vaults and arches found in some of Katoomba’s significant historic buildings.
A central public space provides a focus for the various public facilities on the site, and allows the display of art within the dramatic setting of the surrounding landscape.
The Cultural Centre with its regional City Art Gallery, World Heritage Interpretive Centre, Theatrette and Café and the new Katoomba Library, are all accessible from this central square which is also linked by various routes back to Katoomba Street.
The colour and pattern selected for the external walls will reflect the character of the sandstone cliffs characteristic of the Blue Mountains landscape.
The design is open and welcoming, with generous provision of open space providing enhancement to the important cultural facilities.
A strong and singular character is intended for the whole of the Cultural Centre to ensure it has a strong presence as a significant civic and public place within the Blue Mountains.”
Blue Mountains Mayor Jim Angel welcomed the design which he said reflected the input from the community during the design process.
“HASSELL have incorporated ideas from the community to improve the centre and take more advantage of the views on the site.”
“The design is now more reflective of the Blue Mountains landscape and the layout of the public spaces provides a better use of space and takes into account community safety issues.”
“We look forward to the lodgement of the development application,” Cr Angel said.
Blue Mountains Cultural Centre Director Simon Ambrose said that “The design will result in a landmark building that will be a catalyst for cultural activity and expression. The Centre will be a unique place in the Blue Mountains that stimulates cultural development and encourages education and appreciation for the arts and our local environment. It will attract visitors from local, national and international communities”.
Council is calling for community members for the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and Katoomba Library Advisory Committee to provide expertise and guidance in progressing this significant cultural facility.
Council is seeking expressions of interest from individuals residing or working in the Blue Mountains who possess the personal attributes, experience and skills required to make a positive contribution to the working of the Committee. ommittee Chair Joan Domicelj said she was delighted that Council is forming the Committee to work with it to provide advice and expertise from the local community and the region at this strategic stage of the development. We all look forward to engaging with interested people in our diverse community to bring this project to fruition,” Ms Domicelj said. In September 2006 the Council adopted the Terms of Reference for the Committee and appointed an independent Chair.
Blue Mountains Mayor Jim Angel said the Council was extremely fortunate in securing the commitment of an eminent local resident, Joan Domicelj AM, to undertake the role of Chair of the Committee.
“Joan’s commitment to culture and environmental concerns, her breadth of experience as well as her exceptional chairing skills, make her an ideal choice for the role of Chair of the Advisory Committee,” Cr Angel said.
“Since then specialist advisors from regional cultural organisations have been appointed to the Committee. These include Jason Ardler, Director Cultural Heritage Division, Department Environment and Conservation; Deborah Ely, CEO Bundanon Trust; John Kirkman, CEO Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Lewers Bequest and Penrith Regional Gallery and Tony Nesbitt, Manager, Arts Programming, Sydney Olympic Park Authority.”
“We are now seeking expressions of interest from individuals in the community who can help guide this project through this important phase,” Cr Angel said.
Written applications must be lodged and will be accepted up until 5 pm Thursday 15 February 2007.
CULTURAL CENTRE UPDATE
The appointment of a Cultural Centre Director signals a new phase of engagement with the community about the project, Blue Mountains Mayor Jim Angel said.
“The Cultural Centre is as much about people and programs as it is about bricks and mortar. The Council had always planned to appoint a Cultural Centre Director before the facility was built to help guide the project to success and to make sure what is built reflected the needs of the community. A large part of the Cultural Centre Directors’ role is to engage with the Blue Mountains Community about the actual development and also about what happens in and around the centre.”
“The project is a complex and significant project for the whole Blue Mountains and for the revitalisation of Katoomba and requires dedicated project management for its successful completion. The lodging of the development application (DA), liaison with the community and stakeholders and continued development of the project will be a priority for the Director in the next few months,” Cr Angel said.
Cr Angel said the Community and Councillors have been kept up to date on the project.
“Many reports have gone to the Council on the project including; costs, plans for the Cultural Centre and Library, timelines and progress reports. Any changes to plans or costs have gone back to the Council and we have provided the public with information as changes have occurred and progress has been made.”
“While the DA preparation is underway there may not seem to be much happening but council has been working on the project and communicating progress to the community. The Council last year ran full page advertisements in the Blue Mountains Gazette and updates in the rates newsletter to keep the community informed.”
“In the last few months Council has appointed a chair for the Blue Mountain Cultural Centre and Katoomba Library Advisory Committee and has called for expressions of interest for membership of the committee from members of the public. The Council has also undertaken a design refinement process and consulted with members of the Blue Mountains cultural community about the changes.”
“Site inspections and an archaeological study were carried out on the site in the last few months in preparation for the DA lodgement,” Cr Angel said.
“As we have said before the Cultural Centre will include a City Gallery, interpretive centre, a theatrette, a new library, cafe and public spaces. Space has also been allocated in the foyer for cultural and other information about the Blue Mountains Local Area to be available for tourists and visitors to the centre.”
“We are expecting the DA to be lodged in the first half of this year.”