Kempsey Cinema

Updated 31 July 2018

Project update

A lengthy process of public notification, submission review and legal advice has concluded with Kempsey Shire Council voting to enter into a Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) with Gowings for construction of the Kempsey Cinema. Read more…


The Kempsey Cinema project commenced planning in 2014 as part of the community’s broader vision to revitalise the Kempsey Central Business District in response to the opening of the new Pacific Highway Bypass in March, 2013.

The project is now in its final stages of delivery.

At its 20 February, 2018 meeting, Council resolved that a drafrt Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) between Kempsey Shire Council and Gowings Bros Limited for the development of a 4-screen commercial cinema complex within the Kempsey Central Shopping Centre be publicly notified for 28 days.

This was subject to Council receiving a response from the Office of Local Government acknowledging its advice that Council will no longer progress the project as a Public Private Partnership (PPP).

A project that fits within the VPA guidelines cannot also be a PPP.

This advice was received on February 26 and the VPA commenced public exhibition on Tuesday, February 27. Members of the community were invited to comment on the terms of the VPA until 4pm on Tuesday, 3 April 2018.

The $6.15 million commercial cinema development’s financial model is based on:

  • a $2 million Commonwealth Government ‘National Stronger Regions Fund’ grant
  • a $2 million Council contribution
  • upwards of $2.15 million in private investment (Gowing Bros)

Under the former PPP model, Council was to provide its $2 million contribution as a loan, and share in the businesses’ potential profits and losses. The Office of Local Government were unable to provide a positive assessment of Council’s adherence with the PPP guidelines under the PPP model.

Under the now adopted VPA model, Council a one-off contribution of $2m, with no ongoing involvement or equity in the cinema business operations. This removes Council’s financial exposure to the project.

The VPA model also requires the developer to contribute an enduring and material public benefit to the community. Council and Gowings have agreed that this will be provided by:

  1. making the cinema available as a community space up to 10 times per year
  2. maintaining a high-quality community information centre in the foyer area

The planned construction schedule will see the cinema complex opened by October 2019, as a new third-level addition to the existing Kempsey Central building.

Council has progressed the development of a commercial cinema complex for the Kempsey CBD to drive new jobs and increase visitation, tourism and expenditure. A commercial cinema complex in the CBD will provide greater social, cultural and entertainment opportunities, and make Kempsey a more sociable and liveable town.

Related information

Historical information