Shellharbour moves ahead with City Hub

Shellharbour City Council is moving ahead with plans for its contentious $57 million City Hub, after councillors endorsed the findings of an independent review into the project's business case.

The "gateway review" report found that in most areas of the project, enough planning had been done for the hub to continue to the next stage.

However, the decision to endorse the review - and bring forward $300,000 in funds allocated for the next financial year - was not unanimous and some councillors who endorsed the report still expressed concern over its findings.

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

Council general manager Michael Willis said the review was a favourable one, absent of "red warning" risks although there were two amber alerts in relation to affordability and risk management, which represented a "minor risk".

Mayor Marianne Saliba said given the potential changes to local government being looked at by the state government, it was important the council sent a clear message that, "we are able to stand on our own two feet" and that the council had ample provision of infrastructure for the community in the form of a library or museum.

"It is important we move this project to the next stage," Cr Saliba said.

Councillors Kellie Marsh and Peter Moran oppose the City Hub plan.

Councillors Kellie Marsh and Peter Moran oppose the City Hub plan.

However, Cr Kellie Marsh said, in her opinion, the definition of an amber alert would be "red hot panic to the ratepayers".

"We do need community infrastructure but that isn't defined as a new building for council staff ... the gateway process is only as good as the information put forward," Cr Marsh said.

Although voting to endorse the report, Cr Paul Rankin said the 7 per cent contingency did appear too small, given the council's history of cost overruns.

Cr Peter Moran said the review stated that "all stakeholders interviewed strongly supported the project" but pointed out the stakeholders were "council staff or consultants".

The project should stop until councillors were satisfied appropriate controls were in place, he said.

The recommendation was passed 4-2, with councillors Moran and Marsh voting against.


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