Forbes Cultural and Arts Centre one step closer to realisation

It has sat unoccupied for almost 20 years. But not for much longer.  

The former Forbes and District Ambulance Station is now once step closer to becoming a cultural and arts centre, with the Development Application for the site progressing to the final stage.

Forbes Arts Society Chair Dr Karen Ritchie said, “since purchasing 110 Lachlan Street in December 2019, the Forbes Arts Society has been working closely with Source Architects to develop a final design for the building in consultation with key project partners and the wider community.”

“Our vision is to develop this site into a vibrant, civic hub. A space that encourages locals and visitors to create, share and experience art and culture as well as meet, gather and connect with one another.”

“The design is an adaptive reuse of this prominent local building – sensitive to the site’s Local Heritage Significance status, whilst incorporating a beautiful yet functional contemporary extension.”

The distinctive two-storey building, located on the corner of Court and Lachlan Streets, was originally occupied by the Bank of Australasia before the Ambulance Service took possession of the site in 1944.On 25 October 2001, the building was extensively damaged by fire. Due to the damage caused, the Forbes and District Ambulance Service relocated to a temporary station up at the Forbes Hospital. A second fire on 31 October 2001 gutted the building, and it has remained unoccupied since.

Director of Source Architects Sally Sutherland said, “the detailed design phase has been a balancing act between preserving the old and incorporating the new.”

“With much of the original fabric destroyed, we want to reinstate as much as possible of the exterior facade so that the building will recontribute back to the heritage streetscape. The new second storey section of the building however will have a modern metal cladding that will look and act like a curtain veil.”

“Inside, we’ve created a double height void in the foyer which exposes the original skeleton of the building. A beautiful, oversized staircase will lead visitors up into the second storey galleries. The new design also incorporates sustainable features, is fully accessible and includes a lush courtyard that is sure to become a local gathering point.”

“With the DA process nearing completion, and construction tender submissions closing early next month, work on the site is set to commence imminently.”

The Forbes Cultural Centre development is part of the $7.2 million ‘Boosting the Lachlan Valley Economy Art Project’ which is proudly funded by the NSW Government’s Regional Growth - Environment and Tourism Fund, the Forbes Arts Society, Forbes Shire Council, Lachlan Shire Council and Evolution Mining.

Member of the NSW Legislative Council Sam Farraway said the Cultural and Arts Centre is set to become a cultural drawcard for the area, attracting locals and tourists alike to view outstanding local artwork and cultural displays.

“Once complete—this project will showcase the immense amount of talent in our local area and act as a meeting place, and cultural beacon to both locals and visitors, boosting tourist numbers, and contributing to our local economy,” Mr Farraway said.

The ‘Boosting the Lachlan Valley Economy Art Project’ aims to foster visual arts throughout the Forbes Shire, grow the visitor economy and promote the Lachlan Valley region as a premier tourism destination. The project also includes the Gum Swamp redevelopment and extension of the Sculpture Down the Lachlan trail.