Significant step made towards new chamber

Wattle Range Council has described its decision to proceed to a detailed design phase for its new Millicent administration centre as a “significant step toward the provision of improved customer services for the local community”.

Council last week resolved to proceed with the detailed design phase for the proposed new administration centre to replace the existing ageing century-old premises.

Mayor Des Noll said the 1655 square metre proposed development, on the corner of Williams Road and North Terrace, would provide a “contemporary, collaborative and safe working environment for nearly 70 council staff who will be co-located under the one roof for the first time”.

Mayor Noll said the proposed project followed community and staff consultation over the past four years and it “represented a sound financial investment with minimal impact on ratepayers”.

“This is a responsible, timely and necessary strategic investment that will not only ensure the council can continue to meet the growing needs of our local community, but also provide a contemporary, safe and collaborative working environment for our valued staff into the future,” he said.

“The reality is we have severely outgrown our existing premises, which is beyond renovation – it does not even meet current building code standards – and it is, quite simply, no longer fit for purpose.

“This exciting proposed new development represents a sound financial investment and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure council is adequately prepared for the projected future growth of the community.”

Mayor Noll said an independent quantity surveyor had estimated the development would cost $9.2m, which would be funded by a low-interest loan over 15 years through the Local Government Finance Authority.

“We hope this proposed project will be a source of great community pride and we also expect it to create a positive local economic uplift, with a firm requirement for the build to use local timber and stone and local suppliers and trades, where possible,” said Mayor Noll.

Mayor Noll said council’s procurement policy was underpinned by principles considering local employment and purchasing whilst also providing value for money for the community.

Among the development’s key design features (a collaboration between architects Chapman Herbert Architects, councillors and staff) to date are:

• Enhanced customer service area with improved disability access, one-on-one meeting rooms and inclusive amenities with direct access to the foyer

• Co-locates all staff and elected members under the one roof for the first time (almost 70 people) and provides for the projected future growth of the community over the next 50 years

• Council chamber with greater public gallery space to promote community attendance and ability to face Elected Members

• Meets current statutory requirements (National Construction Code and Australian Standards)

• A requirement to source local timber and stone and, where possible, local suppliers and trades.

Mayor Noll said currently, council’s almost 70 administration staff were spread across three separate buildings (two of which are temporary rentals), which “creates inherent challenges and lack of collaboration and cohesiveness”.

Mayor Noll said the detailed design phase was expected to take approximately four months and, when complete, would be presented to council for consideration.

Council will hold a community information session regarding the project by the end of July and will make details available on its website.

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