25 July 2023

Leeton Council: New Roxy Theatre to be complete by May 2024 despite major setback

| Oliver Jacques
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theatre building

The new Roxy Theatre could be completed within a year. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Leeton Shire Council says a planned revamp of the town’s iconic Roxy Theatre is expected to be completed within the next 12 months, despite the upgrade being thrown into disarray in March when the project’s principal contractor Lloyd Group went into voluntary administration.

The 1930-built art deco structure is being redone to include an enhanced foyer, two cinemas and a performing arts school. It was feared that this ambitious project would never be completed after Lloyd Group’s withdrawal, but the council has stepped up and decided to manage the initiative itself.

“An interim PMO [project management office] was set up to carry out extensive inspections across all disciplines to assess where the build was at, estimate the cost to complete, and recommend how best to move forward,” the council said in a statement.

“In May 2023, Council determined to proceed as principal instead of procuring a new head builder as this would have added significantly to the cost. From there, significant effort was focused on re-engaging local contractors, with repricing of over 45 different trades being undertaken. Council is delighted that the local trades required for the redevelopment project will continue to work with Council. Council has also sourced some new local trades for elements that were previously being done by companies in metropolitan Australia.”

Leeton Mayor Tony Reneker quickly guaranteed that all contractors who worked on the project under Lloyd Group would be paid. In this respect, the Leeton tradies avoided the disaster endured by some of their counterparts in Wagga, who are still owed substantial amounts after the NSW Government’s Land and Housing Corporation chose an insolvent principal contractor to build a public housing block in 2021 – a company that went into liquidation later that year.

READ ALSO NSW Government department chose insolvent company to build Wagga public housing

Cr Reneker also said that work health and safety (WHS) and financial accountability to the community were the council’s top priorities in assuming the role of principal for the Roxy redevelopment.

“We have gone to great lengths to ensure that our contractors will be working in a safe yet productive environment,” he said.

Tony Reneker speaks to crowd

Leeton Mayor Tony Reneker has vowed to keep the community informed about progress on the theatre’s redevelopment. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Project manager Gideon Vos said a key focus had been on developing WHS plans and ensuring all legislative requirements were being met.

“In addition to this, SafeWork will undertake on-site audits to ensure compliance in all areas and provide suggestions for improvements where necessary,” Mr Vos said.

Work is expected to begin the week after SafeWork has visited.

This WHS risk mitigation will also include the implementation of traffic management plans around the Roxy (both Wade Avenue and Roxy Lane), which will be amended as required to reduce any lengthy disruptions.

“We understand that this will be an inconvenience at times but want to thank the community for their support and understanding in getting this project to its long-awaited completion,” Mr Vos said.

READ ALSO Local contractors ‘to be paid’ as Roxy Theatre builder goes into administration

Deputy Mayor Michael Kidd said the council would keep the community abreast of the project’s progress via regular updates on social media, the council’s website and the newspaper. He said construction site tours, which were suspended in April, would likely resume soon.

“We hope to soon be able to invite the community back on site once we are given the safety all-clear – the tours were popular before and we look forward to giving residents the chance to view the progress in person,” Cr Kidd said.

A council statement said: “Provided all works go ahead as planned and there are no hiccups along the way, the build is expected to be completed by May 202.”

The total approved budget for the Roxy redevelopment is now $12.2 million, more than double the original estimate of $4.45m when the project was conceived in 2018.

The council said it would also continue to seek additional grant funds to make up for project elements that had currently been value-managed out to keep the cost within the initial voted budget.

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