MidCoast Council approved continuing investigations into the feasibility of consolidating its offices in Taree and Forster into a single office at the former Masters’ site in Taree, at council’s meeting last week.
While it was agreed the next step of the project would proceed, Steve Embry, council’s acting general manager said,“it’s important to understand that the findings of this stage will be carefully considered before moving to the next step in the process”.
The approval granted by councillors is for the continuation of the 'initiation' stage of the project, with go-ahead provided to proceed with detailed feasibility investigations as proposed by the project manager, Montlaur Project Services Pty Ltd.
These investigations will include the preparation of detailed concept design options for office accommodation to meet council's business needs, and to ensure compliance with the Building Code of Australia, along with compliance checks and a quantity surveyor report.
Critical to this investigation phase will be the preparation of detailed cost estimates for the design options, providing council with an overview of estimated total project cost, in order to make a decision to continue through to the next stage.
“By agreeing to proceed to this next stage of investigations, council is comfortable with the case presented in December, which indicated a single site option offers a more favourable cost-benefit ratio than continuing with the four existing administration sites”, Mr Embry said.
There are five stages in the gateway process, including the current initiation stage, followed by ready to design, ready to build, ready to occupy, and finalisation stages.
The five-stage process was endorsed by council on December 20, 2017, and requires the findings at each stage to be formally reviewed and assessed by Ccuncil before a decision to move forward to the next stage is made.
A budget of $152,000, funded from council’s Land Development reserve, has been approved for the current initiation stage which will take place over the next 12 weeks. The findings of these investigations will be reported to Ccuncil for consideration and a decision then made on whether the project should proceed to the next stage.
Should Council agree to move to the next stage after the current investigations are completed, future steps include the preparation of a detailed funding strategy and community consultation.
Both the business case, and the recently approved program from Montlaur which outlines upcoming feasibility investigations, can be found by visiting www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/masters.
Further reporting will be made available on the council website as the initiation stage progresses.