Shellharbour's City Hub passes test

Shellharbour City Council says the business case for its $57 million City Hub development has received the stamp of approval after undergoing a review process developed by the NSW Treasury.

But the report that resulted from the "gateway review" is yet to be released to the public.

The council plans to release it next week after making it available to a project control group of councillors and staff.

The report will then be discussed at a council meeting next February.

Click to see council staff's preferred design proposal

The City Hub, which is supported by most councillors, has been pitched as a "heart" for the city and will include a new library and museum, council chambers, administration offices, meeting rooms, auditorium and more.

Proponents argue the project has been a long time in the making and will provide essential civic services as Shellharbour's population continues to grow.

However, it has also copped criticism from two councillors in particular, who believe the city can't afford it.

The council adopted a detailed business case examining the merits of the project in October.

The gateway review process was to test the rigour of the council's business case for the hub.

Yesterday, the council said the outcome provided an "endorsement" of the work done so far and gave the council "clearance to continue to the next phase". It was yet to provide the report to a number of councillors.

Mayor Marianne Saliba said the hub's next phase would include hiring a project manager and developing detailed designs.

"It is important for the city because as we're maturing and as the city is growing we need to be able to continue to provide adequate amenities for the community," she said.

"It's for the people of Shellharbour City now and into the future."

Existing facilities such as the Warilla library no longer satisfied the needs of residents, she said.

The project will be funded through a mix of developer contributions, asset sales and loans.

The council also plans to apply for federal grants to support the development.

It said an economic analysis of the project valued the additional benefits to Shellharbour at $27.5 million.

Councillor Kellie Marsh, who opposes the project, said she was "furious" to find out about the review in a media release.

She did not believe the council would get the money it anticipated from asset sales, leaving "a big black hole" in the finances.

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