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Cowes Cultural and Community Centre

The $19 million redevelopment of the Cowes Cultural and Community Centre involves replacing the existing Centre, to bring together the cultural and social aspirations of the community and draw visitors in to showcase the history and culture of the region. The new facility will encourage a range of community activities and events.

Concept Plans released

The growing and changing population of Phillip Island, together with an increasing expectation for recreation and cultural experiences, demands attention to the community facilities available in Cowes. There is strong community support for a dynamic, interactive Cultural Centre for the community.

Frequently Asked Questions


Why are we choosing to demolish the existing Centre before the design and almost a year before starting the rebuild?

Demolishing the facility early in the process enables Council to coordinate the removal and storage of all materials. It allows for the identification of any latent site issues in a more cost-effective manner, so it can be accommodated into the design and construction process and ensure that development can occur on schedule in early 2021 with minimal chance of unexpected delays. For example: if the soil is discovered to be contaminated during demolition, adjustments can be made during the design phase to ensure the proper precautions are undertaken.

What is the proposed start and finish date for demolition?

Council is aiming to demolish the existing facility between late July/August 2020 and September/October 2020.

When did Council go out to tender for the demolition of the Cowes Cultural and Community Centre?

The tender for Stage 1 demolition was advertised in the Phillip Island and San Remo Advertiser and the South Gippsland Sentinel Times newsletter on Wednesday 22 April 2020.

What was the closing date for the demolition tender?

Tenders for Stage 1 closed on Wednesday 13 May 2020.


When did Council go out to tender for the design of the Cowes Cultural Centre?

Council appointed Jackson Clements Burrows (JCB) at the May 20 Ordinary meeting

When did design tenders close?

Tenders for the design closed in February 2020.

Do you have a proposed date for the commencement of work on the new Cowes Cultural and Community Centre, and a proposed completion date?

The design process is expected to begin in June 2020 and be completed by early 2021. The project will commence construction immediately following the design in early 2021 and is expected to be completed within 12-14 months.

Are the current concept designs by Perkins going to be used as the basis for the final designs once the tender has been completed, or will the designs be starting from scratch?

Yes, the previous designs and feedback on the concept designs will inform the new design. Extensive community consultation was undertaken with stakeholders and the community over the past 5 years and this work has informed the usage requirements of the proposed new facility. In October 2019, Council resolved to adopt a new direction for the project whereby a new purpose-built facility would be developed, rather than retrofit the old, existing facility. This decision was informed by a feasibility design that demonstrated that the usage requirements identified through the community consultation could better be accommodated in a new purpose-built design. The data that has been collected from the consultation work to date will inform the development of concept design, through to detailed design and construction documentation of the new facility. Council will continue to engage with stakeholders and the community throughout the process.

Has community consultation previously been undertaken to develop existing concept design?

An extensive program of community and key stakeholders’ engagement has occurred over the past 5 years in developing the current concept design. Some of the consultation that has occurred includes:

  • The establishment of a Council endorsed Working Group comprised of representatives from seven key stakeholder groups plus four community representatives.
  • Written correspondence to every resident on Phillip Island with an invitation to review the CCCC concept design.
  • Distribution of over 12,000 flyers to owners, occupiers, post office boxes and non-resident owners.
  • Pop up community sessions with an overall attendance exceeding 360 people providing comment.
  • Social media posts and published media releases

When is construction of the new building due to start?

Construction is anticipated to commence early 2021 and is anticipated to take 12 – 14 months.

Who is the builder?

The building contractor will be selected through a tendering process towards the end of the design process in late 2020 to early 2021. Council will consider a range of factors during this process, including possessing the necessary expertise to build the final design.


Has a loan been secured for the project?

Council were advised in late March that its application for $10 million in concessional loan funding from the State Government’s Community Infrastructure Loans Scheme for the Centre had been approved. Under this Scheme, the State Government will fund half of the interest cost. Following further cuts to the Reserve Bank’s interest rate, we anticipate the actual interest rate paid by Council will be less than 1.0 per cent per annum.

What are the terms of the loan?

Council has assumed a ten-year repayment period for the Community Infrastructure loan in its Long Term Financial Plan (LTFP). This will require it to repay less than $1.1 million per annum.

Is there a limit to how much Council can borrow (based on its current financial situation)?

Council’s Long Term Financial Plan (LTFP) has provided for total borrowings of $15 million for the Cowes project as well as a combination of borrowings, financial reserves and external grants to fund two aquatics projects over the next ten years. Council’s indebtedness ratio (borrowings as a percentage of own source revenue) is projected to remain under the 60 per cent threshold set by the Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO). Council’s financial borrowing sustainability is not classified as high risk over the ten-year life of the LTFP.

Where is the rest of the funding coming from?

Council secured a grant of $2.5 million from the Growing Suburbs Fund and has allocated $4 million in its 2020/21 Budget. The remaining $2.5 million has been allocated in Council's Long Term Financial Plan for 2021/22.

Phillip Island Aquatics

Why is Council proceeding with this project when members of the community believe the Aquatics Facility should be the priority?

The Phillip Island Aquatics project is a top priority for Council. The project funding of the new Cowes Cultural and Community Centre does not impact the project funding for the development of an aquatics facility on Phillip Island in the future. The projects are not in competition. Council’s Long Term Financial Plan has allocated funds towards the development of a new recreation precinct in Cowes that includes an aquatics facility. The proposed aquatics centre project on Phillip Island is a discreet project separate from the redevelopment of the Cowes Cultural and Community Centre and will be progressed independent of this project Council cannot further progress the aquatics facility project until the proposed site identified for the project has been fully acquired by Council. The compulsory acquisition process is lengthy and requires State Government approval.

Key objectives and benefits

  • The project will set new high standards in the provision of multi-use public community spaces, and in particular, deliver an accessible and functional building which contributes to best practice place making principles;
  • The new centre will be a destination building with interesting architecture, while providing service for the Council and Community;
  • Creating a dynamic and interactive place for people that is a source of community pride where groups can interact together;
  • Secure the long-term use and improve the functionality, safety and efficiency;
  • Incorporate Universal Design principles, expand and diversify the existing programs and services and improve access;
  • Support the projected growth in population and identify the local demand for cultural, artistic and community programs and services;
  • Best meets the communities’ needs giving consideration to Council’s existing strategic financial and cultural priorities;
  • Increase the lifestyle and liveability opportunities for new and existing residents and visitors to the Shire; and
  • Provide the centre point for cultural and heritage experiences and learning.

A revised concept of the Cowes Cultural and Community Centre was approved in October 2019. This concept maximised spaces for community groups, increased storage and enabled the design to function more effectively.

In February 2020, we sought tender responses for the detail design of the new facility. It is anticipated that the successful design team will be appointed in May 2020. Once appointed, the detail design of the facility will take place, which will include ongoing consultation with community groups and key stakeholders. The detail design phase is scheduled to begin in June 2020 and be completed in early 2021. Demolition of the existing centre is planned for the later part of 2020. Construction of the new facility will start in early 2021 and is expected to take 12 to 14 months.

The new Cowes Cultural and Community Centre is forecast to generate $51.8 million in benefit to the Bass Coast economy over the life of the project. The state government recently committed to the project, allocating $10 million via its Community Infrastructure Loans Scheme. The many economic and job benefits this project will bring the region ensures it will continue to progress. A new Cowes Cultural and Community Centre has been forecast in Council’s Long-Term Financial Plan. It’s location in the mid-block of Cowes will rejuvenate the activity centre and instil a sense of pride for Bass Coast whilst being the new home for many community uses and activities.