Lismore is set to get a new regional art gallery, 62 years after the ‘temporary’ gallery was built.
A development application for the $5.8 million gallery received the nod yesterday from the Joint Regional Planning Panel.
The Lismore Regional Art Gallery will have several gallery spaces, office spaces, meeting rooms, a bookshop and café, areas for events, functions and workshops and an outdoor quadrangle that connects to the Northern Rivers Conservatorium and the Lismore Library.
Panel chair Garry West said the decision was made after hearing community and stakeholder submissions.
The proposal was publicly exhibited for a month in May this year and three submissions were received, with issues related to traffic, parking and disabled parking.
Mr West said traffic would not be negatively impacted and parking would be available on site, including after-hours parking for evenings and weekend art gallery events.
‘This art gallery will help to revitalise Lismore’s CBD by transforming a disused site into a community space for residents and tourists to enjoy,’ he said.
‘This gallery will form a fundamental part of the Lismore Quadrangle. A key space in the Northern Rivers that represents the creative industries and culture of the area.’
Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell, who is a member of the panel but absented herself from the vote, described the decision as ‘fantastic’ news for Lismore.
‘This was one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in the realisation of the new gallery.
She said the next step in the process was to approve the successful tender for construction of the gallery.
‘Tenders have closed and we have two local tenders to consider. That will come to a special meeting of the council on 2 August.
‘Once that is decided work may be able to start late August or early September.
As Cr Dowell is retiring at the September local government elections, she is unlikely to be a part of any sod-turning ceremony.
But she said she would be cheering from the sidelines.
‘I’m particularly pleased that this is happening after my 12 years on council but it must be remembered that the present gallery was opened 62 years ago and it was only meant to be temporary,’ she said.
Cr Dowell said it would be up to the new council to decide what happens to the existing gallery in Molesworth Street.
Funding for the new gallery has come from various sources.
The federal government has pledged $2.85 million from its National Stronger Regions Fund for the construction of the Lismore Quadrangle project, which includes a new customised space for the gallery.
The NSW government has pledged $110,000 via an Arts NSW capital grant – less than the $160,000 donated by residents, while Lismore City Council will contribute $1.3 million.
The Margaret Olley Foundation has pledged $500,000 towards the proposed new regional art gallery.
Lismore Regional Gallery director Brett Adlington has said the main gallery space would be named The Margaret Olley Gallery in honour of the Lismore woman who went on to become one of Australia’s greatest painters.