Kempsey Shire Council voted unanimously at Tuesday’s meeting of Council to pursue additional funding and seek new tenders for the Mid North Coast High Performance Centre incorporating a revised design and potential for staged construction.
The timetable for delivery will also be extended, as significant delays will result from the need to reject the existing tenders, due to all tenders exceeding the budget.
The Council, along with South West Rocks Sport and Recreation Association, and the South West Rocks Country Club are committed to this project which aims to deliver a new multi-use and regionally significant sporting facility catering for emerging and pre-elite youth athletes, a range of high-performance sports and the sporting needs of the local community.
Once the Macleay Valley Sports Strategy was adopted, construction of the Centre was proposed by the South West Rocks Sport and Recreation Committee, with broad support from local sporting clubs and community groups.
$2.46 million in grant funding was successfully obtained under the Regional Sports Infrastructure Fund. Funding contributions were also secured from Council and the South West Rocks Country Club.
Council commissioned detailed design documentation prior to development consent being granted in August 2019, after external review by Coffs Harbour City Council, and invited tenders for construction. The project received a number of competitive, conforming tenders. All of the tenders received valued the project significantly higher than expectations.
“The competitiveness and interest from the construction industry in this project was very high,” said Kempsey Shire Council Director Operations & Planning Robert Fish. “Although there were quantitative surveys completed during the detailed design phase for the Centre, all parties have accepted that the current design is beyond the scope of the funds available.”
As such Council, following discussion with the project partners, have determined to seek new ‘design and construct’ tenders, seeking a solution that will provide the desired outcome at an achievable cost. Such a solution may involve a revised design and a staged construction process.
“We are going back to the construction industry, through the well-established ‘design and construct’ tender process, to seek their input on how we can achieve the overarching vision and goals of the Centre, through a more cost-effective design and construction process, that could see the Centre built over a number of distinct stages,” said Mr Fish.
While difficult decisions lie ahead, Council has reinforced its commitment to working with the community to deliver the project.
“Our key priority is to build a facility that will allow us to attract regional events, while providing for local sporting needs,” said Mr Fish.
“We recognise this is an ambitious project and while we are clearly disappointed at the delay, we are pleased to be working with council to deliver a successful High Performance Centre,” said South West Rocks Sport and Recreation Association President, Holly Gaddes.
All parties agree that the Centre remains a highly important project.
“The Mid North Coast High-Performance Sport Centre will be a fantastic asset to the local community and region,” said Ms Gaddes.
“Hard work, passion and collaboration has gone into this project. Many community members dedicated their time and skills to developing the concept, and we are committed to working with Council and the tenderers to deliver a facility for all.”
While additional funding may be required, the existing funding commitments remain in place.
“We are still 100 per cent behind the High Performance Centre,” said South West Rocks Country Club CEO David Cunningham.
“In addition to the obvious sporting benefits, the facility has huge value in terms of South West Rocks’ ability to attract higher end and bigger events, delivering results for the entire community.”