Moree Plains Shire Council applying for funding for Moree Civic Precinct redevelopment

IN NEED TO TLC: Moree Plains Shire Council is applying for grant funding to upgrade Moree Town Hall to make it more "usable".

IN NEED TO TLC: Moree Plains Shire Council is applying for grant funding to upgrade Moree Town Hall to make it more "usable".

The Moree Civinct Precinct redevelopment is back on the agenda, with Moree Plains Shire Council staff preparing a grant proposal for the Town Hall upgrades.

At last Thursday’s council meeting, councillors resolved to endorse staff to prepare a grant proposal for the Moree Civic Precinct upgrade that is generally consistent with the project scope identified in stage one as part of the Community Strategic Plan.

According to council’s economic and community development manager Mark Connolly, stage one involves improving the fabric of the building, as well as access and utilisation.

“It includes capital upgrades but would improve access for people with disabilities, improve the amenities, electrical upgrades such as replacing old wiring and new heating and cooling, as well as improvements to the acoustics in the Memorial Hall,” he said.

Mr Connolly said it’s not about providing new services but improving on the existing facilities to make it more usable.

“Usage has declined somewhat over the last few years and part of that is the poor acoustics and heating and cooling,” he said.

“The civic precinct is one of our mainstay community assets, so we need to put some TLC into that building; it just needs a bit of modernisation.”

Council is currently in the process of assessing the costs involved, but Mr Connolly said it’s likely to cost at least $2 million. Staff are now working on putting together an expression of interest for the NSW government’s Regional Cultural Fund, which has $100 million over four years to drive growth in arts, screen, cultural and heritage infrastructure for the social, cultural and economic benefit of communities in regional NSW.

Meanwhile, council will no longer need to consider financially backing a proposal to redevelop the cinema/theatre at the old Cascades site in Gosport Street, after it was discovered that the Cascades trust is eligible to apply for grant funding itself.

That means council can focus on securing funds to upgrade the Moree Town Hall, while the Cascades trust looks into funding for the cinema redevelopment.

“That’s what we wanted – we need the upgrades done to that hall, there’s no doubt about that,” Cascades owner Bev Mansfield (who led the petition to get council to consider an entertainment precinct for Moree) said.

“Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that we both get some funding, which will mean one entertainment precinct for Moree, with Moree Town Hall and the cinema which go so well together.

“It’s a win-win for Moree. [Cascades cinema] will still be private so council don’t have to fork out money and rate-payers don’t have to fork out money.”

Ms Mansfield is happy to keep working with council and the steering committee, and while there’ll be no financial backing from council, she said they have offered in-kind support. 

The Cascades trust is currently working with a number of funding bodies to work out their best options.

They are also putting in an expression of interest for the Regional Cultural Fund.

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