Gleniffer Brae site use: Wollongong mayor faces the music

The conservatorium's use of Gleniffer Brae has firm backing.
The conservatorium's use of Gleniffer Brae has firm backing.

A majority of Mercury readers have come out in support of the Conservatorium of Music, after Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said it should not be allowed to hold a "ridiculous" long-term lease over most of Gleniffer Brae.

According to a Mercury online poll, almost 70 per cent of respondents were happy for the conservatorium to control most of the historic manor house, despite Cr Bradbery saying it should be used as a function centre and return income to the council.

Some in the musical community took to social media to express their views, with Wollongong Eisteddfod president Tony Purdon saying he "disagreed vehemently" with the Lord Mayor.

"We draw competitors for our eisteddfod from the Con ... and I believe the building is a great place for them to be," he said.

"The fact that they don't turn a revenue into the city is irrelevant. I think the community has an obligation to support these kids in the performing arts and promote opportunities for them to learn."

Former conservatorium chief Andrew Snell also shared his views on Facebook, saying the long-term lease agreement meant "it really doesn't matter what the mayor thinks".

"The Con has eight or nine years left on its lease, so it really is a moot point. Unless council finds somewhere else for the Con, the Con will be there until 2023."

The conservatorium's interim chief executive, Joe Gaudiosi, did not want to comment on the Lord Mayor's statements until he had spoken to council staff.

In recent weeks, the council has been meeting with stakeholders - such as the Botanic Garden, neighbourhood forums and the conservatorium - to canvass their thoughts on how the portion of the manor house not occupied by the conservatorium should be used.

Long-time Gleniffer Brae supporter Bess Moylan said she was surprised to read Cr Bradbery's comments, as the council had not yet finished speaking to stakeholders about the property's future.

"Council officers are going through and consulting everyone involved and looking at the limitations of the site and I think we should let them do that," she said.

"It's a concern that the Lord Mayor doesn't appear to be valuing this consultation process."

A report on options for the future use of Gleniffer Brae is due before councillors in August.


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