$57m City Hub step closer to reality

Shellharbour City Council will push ahead with its plans for a $57 million City Hub after an independent review panel endorsed the business case.

The ‘‘gateway review’’ report, released yesterday, found that in most areas of the project, enough planning had been done for it to continue to the next stage.

It also identified ‘‘minor risks’’ to be addressed in relation to affordability and risk management.

‘‘Because it’s a community asset that we’re building, we believed it was important for council to go through this process to be able to demonstrate to the community that we’re doing everything that we possibly can to protect their asset,’’ Mayor Marianne Saliba said.

The City Hub, to be located in the city centre, will include new council chambers, administration offices, a library and museum, meeting rooms and more.

The council plans to fund the project from land sales, developer contributions and loans, and will also apply for a $15 million federal grant that would reduce the amount to be borrowed.

It aims to hire a project manager by March 2013, a design team by next August, and hopes the new hub will be completed in mid-2016.

The review panel’s observations included its view that the 7 per cent ‘‘contingency’’ included in the $56.7 million project estimate appeared to be ‘‘insufficient’’.

However, the council’s manager of assets and projects, Graham Standen, said consultants had advised it was sufficient, as a high priority had been placed on financial management.

The panel’s list of recommendations included that a target cost be endorsed, a quantitative risk assessment be carried out, and that a risk plan be developed.

Mr Standen said a target cost would be considered by the project control group and that a risk plan was being prepared.

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