Why are we building a new library and community hub?
Council remains committed to reinvigorating the city’s traditional heart in Argent Street as its tenants struggle to compete against the city’s other two commercial centres - Westside Plaza and Broken Hill Village (Coles). In order to halt the decline of the city’s CBD Council has committed to building a new library and community hub behind the Town Hall Facade to act as an anchor tenant to boost foot traffic into Argent Street, and also return one of the city’s most iconic buildings to civic use.
An audit of the current library by NSW State Libraries has also found that our current building provides only 60% of the recommended library space for a city of Broken Hill’s size.
The draft Cultural Framework and Synopsis Report is available here.
So what is a ‘Cultural Framework’ exactly?
As the name suggests, the Cultural Framework considers the city’s culture and the part it will play in the final design of the library and surrounding cultural precinct, but it also considers what services should be co-located within any new facility to ensure the best outcome for locals, visitors, and staff alike.
What services will be co-located in the new facility?
We are still very early in the planning process, and no decisions have been made regarding co-location. Therefore we are keen to hear from staff, residents, and other stakeholders about which of our services could be partially or wholly co-located in the new facility. These services could potentially include the Archives, GeoCentre, Visitor Information Centre (VIC), Customer Service, and of course the library service itself.
How can I have my say on what services should be located in the new library?
Engagement sessions with staff are now underway. Once the draft Cultural Framework is adopted by Councillors for public feedback, Council will be holding engagement sessions for external stakeholders such as users, businesses, and residents. A community open day will also be held on February 11.
What other consultations have taken place around the Cultural Framework?
In assembling the draft plan, architects Neeson Murcutt have considered a broad range of feedback from the community that was gathered as part of the Living Museum and Perfect Light suite of projects, and also the feedback received during Council’s three-month engagement around the Library in late 2017.
Throughout 2018 the architects also met with numerous representatives of local sectors including arts, tourism, disability, indigenous community, and a range of staff and Councillors.
What actual features will the new library contain?
We are not yet at the design stage, and are currently only considering what services the new library and community hub could house. Specifics of the new building will be considered at the preliminary design stage, which is estimated to take place in May.
But what will happen to the old library?
We understand many people have an attachment to the old library, however NSW State Libraries and our architect, Neeson Murcutt, agreed with Council’s assessment that the current building is unfit for continued use as a library. Fortunately, the architect has highlighted that the current library building could be retained and would serve as an ideal location for the Outback Archives and storage of historically significant items. At this stage, three of four strategies currently being considered provide for the retention of the old library building.
How much is all this going to cost?
The cost of the final project is ultimately dependent on what services are included in the new library and community hub facility. If the new facility is simply a replacement for our old library, it will be smaller and cheaper to build. By contrast a larger facility offering more services to locals and visitors will be more expensive. Estimate costs will be ascertained once services are decided upon, and a preliminary design is completed.
And who is going to pay for it?
Council is confident the project will have the support of the BHP Billiton Foundation. This will allow us to use the approx. $5 million donated by the foundation as seed funding to seek State or Federal funding to finance the project. Council could also source extra funds from an Infrastructure reserve funded by commercial operations if need be.
But won’t parking be an issue?
Any plan for the new library and surrounding cultural precinct will see a net increase in parking availability within a 2.5-minute and 5-minute walking radius of the library. In addition, NSW Police have indicated that they will be leaving their current Argent Street site to construct a new station. This will allow Council to utilise the space in and around the current Police station for additional parking.
So where are the Police going to go?
Although the Police have not indicated where their new station will be built, Council is doing its utmost to work with Police to ensure their presence in retained in the CBD. A loss of the police station would take around 65-100 people out of the CBD, and Council is assessing all options to find a way to deliver a new library for residents while also accommodating the Police in the vicinity of the CBD.