Council rejects claims of 'luxury' offices

Images of proposed Shellharbour city hub March 2014.

Images of proposed Shellharbour city hub March 2014.

SHELLHARBOUR City Council has rejected claims that the City Hub project administration offices were “luxury” facilities.

Last week, “Stop the Hub community Group” slammed the City Hub proposal for having “champagne tastes”.

General manager Michael Willis said the plans were, “Far from being ‘luxury”.

“The administration building is one component of the Hub complex, enabling the community to access council’s customer services on the same site as the city library and museum, community meeting rooms, the civic auditorium, and Council Chamber,” he said.

“The offices will mostly be open plan – in fact a number of managers who currently have their own office in our existing building will move to an open plan work space in the new building.”

Mr Willis said the six-level administration offices also consist of two below-ground levels for parking, both for council staff and the community.

“While we certainly want people to take an interest in the Hub, it’s important they are basing their views on factual information,” Mr Willis said.

“This project is not about choosing between building new facilities like the Hub or improving existing infrastructure.

“In truth, we need to find a way of doing both. We have to renew our current assets, and we also have to create new assets and facilities to meet the growing needs of a growing city – remembering that Shellharbour’s population is projected to increase to more than 79,000 by 2031.”

Mr Willis also said the hub would comprise of environmentally-friendly features available which enable it to achieve a five-star rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.

“I can understand that when people think of environmentally-friendly buildings they immediately imagine solar panels and other highly visible features, but these are not always the most effective solutions,” Mr Willis said.

“The proposed complex will deliver resource efficiency from an energy and water perspective, and make extensive use of natural lighting including a system of artificial lighting that dims down when there’s adequate natural light.”

Environmental Design Consultant Richard Palmer said people, “might be familiar with a sealed office building, where there’s a very clearly defined ‘outside’ and’ inside’, and the only thing you really can look for are extra bits of ‘tech' that are stuck to the outside – whereas for this building, it’s very much an indoor/outdoor, flexible space”.

Mr Willis said there was also a strong environmental basis for locating council and community services in one site.

“Co-locating facilities enables council to provide ecologically sustainable infrastructure, by reducing the amount of materials and energy required to run a number of services from the one complex,” he said.

Mr Willis reiterated that development of the Hub would not come at the expense of the redevelopment of branch libraries or other council services.

“An economic analysis of the project is readily available on council’s website,” he said. 

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