Proposal to Convert Lane Cove Council Chambers into a Multi Function Space

Councillor Bridget Kennedy (working with Councillor Kathy Bryla, who is an architect) has developed a plan to redesign the current Lane Cove Council Chambers and adjacent meeting rooms (which are not used on a regular basis) to a multi-function space to function as both as Council Chambers and a performance space which would provide maximum use of the space. She is presenting the plan via a notice of motion at the Lane Cove Council November 2022 meeting to be held on 24 November 2022.

Background to the Proposal

The Lane Cove Theatre Company and other Lane Cove performing arts groups have asked for a permanent performance space in Lane Cove for many years.

The Lane Cove Theatre Company has no permanent home and must bump in and out their stage and lighting equipment before each weekend performance. They also do not have a place to store their equipment permanently. Most of their operational budget goes towards hiring a venue and paying for storage.

The Lane Cove Theatre Company stages at least four productions yearly (including the very popular children’s panto or musical each year.  Their production of Hercules the Panto is currently playing. We reported the following in last week’s Lane Cove Week in Review:

“Congratulations to the cast and crew of Hercules The Panto on their opening weekend performances. Lane Cove Theatre Company’s panto productions are always fun and sell out.

The reviews have been terrific. Below are reviews posted on In The Cove’s Facebook page.

Find out more here and book those tickets quickly.”

Next year Lane Cove Theatre Company will stage another four productions, including Cloudstreet (adapted by Nick Enright and Justin Monjo from the novel by Tim Winton).

Lane Cove Theatre Company, alongside the Lane Cove Concert Band, Lane Cove Youth Orchestra, local choirs, local dance schools and other performing arts groups, have constantly raised the issue about the lack of a performing arts space in Lane Cove.

Lane Cove Youth Orchestra has not held a concert in the Lane Cove area for years (except when they got very creative with their Splash into Christmas Concert at the Lane Cove Aquatic Centre on 3 December 2022). Lane Cove Music uses the LCM Church as its venue.

It is not just the local community organisations that need a space but also our local schools. Mowbray Public School’s band recently had to hold their school band concert at Lindfield Public School due to lack of space.

In 2018 the Lane Cove arts community thought they had found a possible venue in the middle of Lane Cove. The site, which is now Harris Farm, was to be redeveloped into shops and serviced apartments, the developer had discussions with Lane Cove Council and as part of the development, they agreed to include a community space.   However, as we all know the developers changed their plans and the “old Coles site on Burns Bay Road” was redeveloped into a shopping centre with Harris Farm as the lead tenant.

Councillor Bridget Kennedy provided the following background information:

“Lane Cove Theatre Company (LCTC) has for close to thirty years, worked to imagine a thriving cultural neighbourhood in Lane Cove, with diverse, scattered artistic venues ranging from schools to community halls. This determination, adaptability and community spirit has been recognised and rewarded by Council many times since their inception. The organisation is now a vital cultural aspect of our community. Currently, LCTC does not have a permanent home and spends the vast majority of its budget on the rental of rehearsal and performing spaces. They have been advocating to council for over 25 years for a permanent space.

In 2004, Council adopted the Cultural Action Plan with one of the key goals/actions being to construct a multipurpose Cultural Facility within a 5-10 year timeframe. In 2009 The Pegasus Report to Council provided the Council with recommendations on how it could best provide support to community cultural groups. This included identifying the request for a performing arts space that would have an audience capacity for 150 – 200 people; sufficient backstage space; foyer and ticketing space.

Council has continued to consider the suitability of various spaces (for example the old Coles Lane Cove site) as a performing arts space and to date there has been no feasible location or funding model that has come to fruition.

Council adopted Create Lane Cove: Cultural Plan in February 2016. ID 9.1 stated that Council would “ensure existing and future community facilities and open spaces are managed in such a way that they increase their long-term viability” and ID 9.2 stated that Council would “continue to investigate opportunities for a multipurpose cultural performance space and work alongside community cultural groups to ensure the solution is viable and sustainable.” These priorities were listed as critical.

Council has continued to consider the suitability of various spaces as a performing arts space and to date there has been no feasible location or funding model. Council has achieved a number of improvements across community cultural groups as identified in the Pegasus Report including:

The refurbishment of the old Lane Cove Community Aid building in 2012 to house Gallery Lane Cove and provide gallery and exhibition space for the Lane Cove Art Society and Centrehouse, Lane Cove Concert Band has enjoyed use of the new community space at the Waterview Community Centre located at 314 Burns Bay Road, Lane Cove Music and Cultural Association was relocated into the new Little Street Community Facility on Pottery Lane in 2016 which also became home to Lane Cove and Northside Community Services.

Converting Council Chambers (including the adjacent meeting rooms) to a multi-function space to function as both a Council Chambers, AND a performance space would provide maximum use of a space that is often empty. This solution would be viable and sustainable for both Lane Cove Council in supporting cultural places and infrastructure and provide the Lane Cove Theatre Company with a dedicated performance space.

Its current layout is suitable, the existing entrance, public toilets, and kitchen area can provide a foyer and ticketing space, and with some modifications it can provide sufficient backstage space. (see attachment for concept sketch – many thanks to Clr Bryla for the provision of this). If located and executed properly this facility could become an active and essential cultural hub for

Lane Cove where many different community groups could meet to showcase their talent and collaborate to share ideas and inspiration. It would also attract patrons from outside the Lane Cove area, which would only help to add to and strengthen the cultural diversity already present. It would also allow Lane Cove to be recognised for its rich cultural, musical, and theatrical history.

The Lane Cove Theatre was built in the 1920’s and later became the RIO THEATRE in 1934.⁠ Located at 26-28 Burns Bay Road Lane Cove where the Market Square building now stands.⁠ The Rio Theatre was home to the Lane Cove Musical and Dramatic Society and also acted as a cinema. The building was sold in 1951. In 1958 the Lane Cove Town Hall was opened and became the new home of the Lane Cove Players and Lane Cove Musical Society which flourished in the local community for over 40 years. These groups were forced to disband when the Lane Cove Town Hall was modified to redevelop the site into the existing Lane Cove Council building. This current location has a rich, vibrant cultural history and I call on Lane Cove Council to restore it to its former glory by making it possible to house local cultural and performance opportunities.”

Concept Plan

The Concept Plan (which is not to scale) is below:


Flexible Furnishing To Enable the Space to Be Converted

Lane Cove Theatre Company’s Reaction to the Proposal

Lane Cove Theatre Company posted the following on their social media pages:

“Next Thursday a motion is being discussed at Lane Cove Council to convert the existing Council Chambers into a multi functional Performance Space. We need to show Lane Cove Council that the community supports this motion. We have been waiting for close to 30 years for such a space to be come to fruition and we fear that this could be our one and only remaining chance!⁠

Are you available to attend the Lane Cove Council meeting in person on Thursday 24th at 7pm or would you be willing to send in a written submission in support of the motion?⁠”

Have Your Say – Be Part of the Process

Residents can write to Councillors on this proposal  (or any issue). The email address that will reach all Councillors is: [email protected].

Public members are invited to attend the public forum of the meeting in-person or online, commencing at 7:00 pm.
If you would like to speak at the Council meeting (in-person or online), register via this online form no later than midnight on Wednesday, 23 November 2022. Even if you do not register, if you attend the Lane Cove Council meeting, Mayor Andrew Zbik always asks if there is anyone who has not registered but would like to speak.

A Zoom meeting link will be emailed to the provided email address.

A time limit of three (3) minutes per public forum address applies.

Council meetings are live-streamed and viewable via the webcast on this website.

What is the Next Step?

If Lane Cove Council vote in favour of the proposal to convert the Lane Cove Chambers into a multi-function performance space. Councillor Kennedy is recommending the following next steps:
  1. Lane Cove Council conduct, in late January 2023, after school returns, a workshop with local cultural groups of a size that would potentially utilise a Theatre, delivered by the conversion of the existing Council Chambers into a multi-use facility incorporating both Council Meetings and Cultural Performances, to:-
      • Determine the needs of the local cultural groups for the project; and
      • Review the initial planning ideas having regard to the identified needs of the groups.
  2. Understanding that a DA is required due to a change of use of the space and that the requirements of the Building Code of Australia and Disability Discrimination Act will need to be addressed, Lane Cove Council investigate and determine the process for progressing the project in the shortest possible timeframe to allow for the implementation of the performance space in the 2023/24 Operational and Delivery Plan.
  3. A presentation on the outcomes of the local cultural group workshop be presented at the Lane Cove Council 2023 Corporate Planning Weekend.
  4. A report be submitted to the Lane Cove Council February 2023 Meeting on the outcome of the workshop together with an outline of the process that would be required for the project to proceed, with the aim of including in the 2023/24 Operational and Delivery Plan.

Lane Cove Theatre Company Season 2023

Their Season 2023 theme is “Better Together”.

If you buy a subscription, you can view four productions, including the hilarious Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of Macbeth, Stephen Sondheim’s Tony-award-winning musical Assassins, classic Australian drama Cloudstreet and the annual children’s musical, the classic Little Mermaid. Season 2023 has something for everyone. Purchase your subscription here.

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Lane Cove Theatre Company and In the Cove are community partners – Lane Cove Theatre Company is a not-for-profit organisation, and we offer a discounted ITC Business Supporter package to them – this article is NOT part of that arrangement.