Plea to lease Gleniffer Brae

Conservatorium CEO Andrew Snell wants the iconic organisation considered when people make up their mind about the proposal.The head of Wollongong’s Conservatorium of Music has urged people opposed to the University of Wollongong leasing Gleniffer Brae to ‘‘get real’’ about the long-term future of the manor house.
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Conservatorium chief executive Andrew Snell said UOW’s plans for the precinct would ensure both the manor house and the conservatorium were given a bright future.

UOW put forward a proposal to lease Gleniffer Brae for 25 years and turn it into a function centre after Wollongong City Council said it could no longer afford the upkeep on the manor house.

As part of the deal, UOW wants to buy land adjacent to the house and build a three-storey building to house its arts faculty and the conservatorium, which now uses Gleniffer Brae.

Mr Snell said the conservatorium, as the oldest occupant of Gleniffer Brae, fully supported UOW’s plans in light of the council’s position.

‘‘When Wollongong City Council put out expressions of interest in relation to Gleniffer Brae, UOW was the only organisation willing and capable of financially securing its long-term vitality and future,’’ he said.

‘‘Let’s be grateful that UOW is prepared to further invest in the region.’’

Mr Snell admitted the future shape of the conservatorium was closely aligned with the outcome of the UOW and council negotiations.

But he said few people were considering the ‘‘iconic’’ organisation when making up their minds on the proposal.

‘‘If it [the university’s proposal] doesn’t go through we will need to seriously consider our options,’’ he said, adding the conservatorium was already at capacity.

‘‘Our home is being decided here. We don’t really have any control of what’s being done, so we’re definitely feeling quite vulnerable right now.’’

Some residents have questioned the council’s judgment in going ahead with lease plans for the manor house. Others have argued Gleniffer Brae should remain in the hands of Wollongong ratepayers.

Mr Snell said the ‘‘keep it in public ownership’’ argument should not be used to knock the proposal on the head given the university was a public entity.

Residents can visit www.wollongong.nsw.gov.au for more information on the proposal or to lodge a submission.

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