Kempsey Cinema Project VPA Submissions close Tues 3rd April 2018

Business and Community Members are reminded to have their say on the Kempsey Cinema Project Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) before submissions close on Tuesday 3rd April 2018.

Macleay Valley Business Chamber Members are encouraged to share their views with the Executive via email: admin@kempseychamber.com.au. Recently the Chamber President issued a message to Chamber Members outlining the Chambers support for the VPA as shared here:

Message from the Chamber President:

Dear Macleay Valley Business Chamber (MVBC) Members,

I am writing to you in regards to the draft Voluntary Planning Agreement proposed for the Kempsey Cinema Project that Council have now put out for public consultation.

Based on Member support voiced at Chamber meetings and various discussions with individual members, the Chamber Executive have shown public support for the project. The MVBC Executive believe the Council has taken steps to address the concerns raised by some sections of the Community. The MVBC has welcomed the placing of the Voluntary Planning Agreement on public display.

The Chamber has been proactive in our efforts to be informed on this matter. As President I attended the December 2017 Council Meeting where Gowings and Majestic Cinemas presented their costings for the project. It became clear that there had been an important change to the initial proposal and that the Council funding for this project, through a grant via a Voluntary Planning Agreement, essentially reduced the risks to Council whilst still ensuring the viability and benefit to the Community.  This sends an important message that Council has a vested interest to ensure the ongoing success of the Kempsey greater CBD by augmenting the recent Smith Street re-development.

From reading of the draft VPA, Council has sought to ensure that its liability is capped at the $2m in funds provided via the grant and also ensured that the investment is protected by a public positive covenant over the area that is providing an enduring community benefit.

They have also made it clear that Gowings is responsible for engaging the Cinema Operator and this takes out any Council liability to become the Cinema operator by default. This also appears to ensure the Cinema operator providing the community with the same benefits that Gowings are required to under the VPA.

The progress payments towards the funding have been designed to utilise Gowings funds first, with the final payments not payable until Cinema operations commence, with further protections in place in event any Federal Grant Funding is terminated before construction commences. It was also noted that the developer has agreed to make the Cinema Complex available for use by Council upon request for the purposes of Civic and Community events.

From a Chamber perspective we draw the analogy of the following Civic and Civil projects that Council have already engaged in that have either benefited other local businesses, especially those with interests in the CBD with no commensurate contribution to the developments other than as a rate payer. Some of these include the Smith Street re-development, West Kempsey CBD upgrades, the South Kempsey Plan, the reduction in Developer contributions towards additional land release strategy, bringing water to the new South Kempsey Industrial area and additional road works infrastructure I am sure the new Correctional Centre expansion will need.

The biggest concerns we hear from sectors of the community is their concern of a $2m grant that is being made to a private business. Bearing in mind this business is already a large contributor to the Macleay economy, and there has already been inferences that any action could see the loss of one or more of the major tenants in the complex putting this investment at risk, it would be akin to cutting off our noses to spite our faces. I can recall some years ago the Council being castigated for not doing enough to prevent previous key businesses relocating to neighbouring Council areas due to incentives offered to win those businesses.

With the draft VPA highlighting the community benefit, this represents an investment by our Council and we consider these funds well spent. When this is taken in context over the number of rate paying residents, we spend significantly more than this in maintaining parks, gardens, swimming pools, and sale yards than what their financial returns are and there is no public outcry here as these are also seen as community benefits.

Having listened to the youth of the Macleay express their frustrations at the lack of entertainment facilities here and the projected new employment opportunities being created by the Gaol and the opening of the dual carriageway, this VPA would therefore appear to be a great alternative, particularly given the reduced Council risk compared to the original funding proposal.

The Council grant is drawn from existing funds eliminating financial costs such as interest and given the diversity of impacts of this project it is a spend that has a multitude of potential returns. Large investment can often be a stimulant to further investment and can instil a sense of pride in the community.

We are asking our members and their respective networks that if they feel strong enough to support this proposal to show their intent by commenting on the Council website. What ever your opinion we ask if you would share it with us via a reply to this email to help us gain better insight into Members views.

The VPA will be on public exhibition for a period of 28 days and can be viewed online by going to: www.kempsey.nsw.gov.au/vpa or at Council’s Customer Service Centre, 22 Tozer St, West Kempsey, from 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday. Members of the public are invited to make submissions on the terms of the VPA. Submissions will be accepted up until 4pm on Wednesday 28 March with the matter to be reported back to Council in April. ​I have also included at the bottom of this email other key contacts to include into responses if members wish.

Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter and we look forward to receiving your reply,
Sincerely,

Gary Scott, Macleay Valley Business Chamber President

From the Kempsey Shire Council website:

Kempsey Cinema
Updated 19 March 2018

Project overview
The Kempsey Cinema project commenced planning in 2014 as part of the community’s broader vision to revitalise the Kempsey Central Business District in response to the opening of the new Pacific Highway Bypass in March, 2013.

The project is now in its final stages of delivery.

At its 20 February, 2018 meeting, Council resolved that a draft Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) between Kempsey Shire Council and Gowings Bros Limited for the development of a 4-screen commercial cinema complex within the Kempsey Central Shopping Centre be publicly notified for 28 days.

This was subject to Council receiving a response from the Office of Local Government acknowledging its advice that Council will no longer progress the project as a Public Private Partnership (PPP).

A project that fits within the VPA guidelines cannot also be a PPP.

This advice was received on February 26 and the VPA commenced public exhibition on Tuesday, February 27. Members of the community are invited to comment on the terms of the VPA up until 4pm on Tuesday, 3 April 2018. Submissions need to be in writing and addressed to the General Manager, by post to PO Box 3078 West Kempsey, 2440 or via email ksc@kempsey.nsw.gov.au.                                                  Read full article here