The redevelopment of the Drill Hall site provides an opportunity for Council to create an iconic new leisure and tourism space which will define the entry to Casino from the south. Estimated total cost of the project is $3,314,000, with $1,952,000 committed. This includes $1.2 million from Council, $1.337 million from the Australian Government and $252,000 from the NSW Government.
Council engaged architects Chris Pritchett and Associates to prepare a draft master plan for the development of the Casino Drill Hall site, using information compiled from community meetings and feedback. The plan was endorsed by Richmond Valley Council in March 2017 and:
- Provides a strategic framework for the future enhancement and/or development of the site which recognises the resources available to Council and the community.
- Identifies issues involved with the site and presents plans to resolve or mitigate these issues.
- Introduces new activities and makes best use of the land available through maximising use of the site.
- Enhances the visitor and users’ experience
The area for this master plan project covers 73-81 Lennox Street and a section of Coronation Park. The total site, including the section of Lennox Street and the service road to the east of the site, is approximately 2.11 ha. The Drill Hall site is approximately 1.28 ha.
The Casino Drill Hall is the key building on the site and is the anchor around which the master plan was developed. The building has heritage recognition under the Richmond Valley Council Local Environment Plan.
The Drill Hall was originally built by the Light Horse Brigade in 1908 on land near the Post Office in Barker Street, before being relocated in the mid 1930s to its current location on sloping land to the south of the Richmond River on the Summerland Way.
Light Horse regiments from Casino, Tenterfield and Kyogle were based at Casino and used the hall for training. Following a severe outbreak of ‘flu in 1929 the Drill Hall was approved as an emergency hospital if required.
Council bought the land from the Department of Defence for $340,000 in 2015. Under the Commonwealth property disposals policy, there is a capacity for the Australian Government to sell surplus property to local government where such a sale would provide local economic or social benefits.
As much as possible the master plan has responded to the results of community consultation, the site analysis, and the realities of Council’s and the community’s resources. Additionally, it has integrated existing features with new facility requirements. Outcomes include:
- A design which emphasises the Casino Drill Hall as the anchor of the site.
- Dedicated precincts which define spaces and use.
- Indoor and outdoor event spaces for a range of community and cultural events.
- A flexible, multi-purpose design which encourages sharing of resources.
- A supportive environment to involve the community and foster new associations.
The relocation of the Visitor Information Centre from its current position to the Casino Drill Hall will make an important contribution to the vibrancy of the site. Where tourists would normally just stop to gather information and to use the toilet facilities, with the correct encouragement, these visitors will be tempted to stay longer and use more of the site’s facilities.
The site will be connected into the walking and cycle paths along the south side of the Richmond River, such as to Queen Elizabeth Park, and across the Richmond River Bridge to the CBD and residential areas on the north side of the river. For most people the site will be easily accessed either on or off-road.
The redevelopment of the site involves a number of different trades, such as: aluminium windows, bricklayers and blocklayers, concrete, doors and frames, earthworks, electrical services, hydraulic services, joinery, landscaping, mechanical services, painting, plasterboard, pest control, reinforcement, roofing, structural steel, surveying, tactile indicators, tiling, timber trusses , and waterproofing.
Progress of construction of the Visitor Information Centre at 30 November 2018