Media Statement: Planning for the return of Mittagong Playhouse

18 August, 2023

For transparency, Wingecarribee Shire Council would like to address a question raised during the public forum of our Ordinary Meeting of Council on Wednesday 16 August, 2023 which pointed to a discrepancy in relation to the lodgement of the Development Application for Mittagong Playhouse.

The maturity of an organisation is acknowledging when an error has been made, and our investigations into the matter have indicated this to be the case.

The error in this case was the amount entered on the Portal by the Architect leading the project on behalf of Council.  When the Independent Assessment planner commenced the assessment, they contacted the Architect (as applicant) and requested a registered Quantity Surveyors detailed report to confirm the Capital Investment Value of the project. This is a common practice to request such evidence for this scale of development.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment define the Capital Investment Value  used, for the purposes of determining development application fees and the relevant determination authority.

Once received the Quantity Surveyors detailed report confirmed the CIV of $4.86M. This CIV excludes costs such as GST, professional fees, enabling and commissioning costs, and theatre furnishing and fit out costs, as well as any escalation (CPI) and contingencies. Some of these costs were included in the ‘base’ project costs that had been placed on the Portal reflecting $5.02M.

To ensure that this does not occur in the future an additional check by the responsible officers will be undertaken.

As the capital investment value was below the $5m threshold, the DA was correctly referred to the Local Planning Panel for determination, not the Regional Planning Panel.

The DA was approved in June 2023.

During the 18 months since the DA was lodged, construction costs Australia-wide have escalated substantially. As a result, the total project cost has increased and it is now estimated that $8m will be required to deliver a ready-to-use and fit-for-purpose contemporary performance and community facility, with increased seating capacity.

As construction costs continue to balloon Australia-wide Council is committed to securing the additional funding needed to deliver the co-designed future vision for Mittagong Playhouse, and hand a vastly improved facility for live theatre back to our community, as quickly as possible.

A heritage listed building of great architectural and cultural significance for our Shire, the closure of Mittagong Playhouse has been deeply felt by our community. A serious structural fault necessitated the venue’s closure in late 2019 for the safety of community members. The Wingecarribee community has since clearly communicated to Council that the restoration and re-opening of Mittagong Playhouse is a priority.

“Recognising the value of culture for connecting Wingecarribee, Council is committed to restoring the structural integrity of the building and handing a far better playhouse back to our community, as quickly as possible,” says Council Administrator Mr Viv May.

Once re-opened, the Mittagong Playhouse will continue to be home to the Berrima District Historical and Family History Society. The refurbished space will provide local and touring theatre groups with vastly improved facilities. For our community, it means a next-level experience of live performance to look forward to.

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