NeXT: Footscray Library, Community and Cultural Hub


Our vision

Our vision for NeXT is to create a learning, community and cultural arts space for the west that provides our growing and diverse community with:

  • a library of the future
  • flexible community meeting rooms and spaces
  • a large, purpose-built, flexible performing arts space
  • exhibition and gallery spaces
  • office and commercial/not-for-profit opportunities
  • open space

Where will NeXT be?

NeXT is proposed to replace the current Footscray Library and car park site located on Paisley Street, Footscray, which is:

  • a 7 minute walk from Footscray train station; the gateway station to Melbourne’s west.
  • central to all three Footscray Learning Precinct hubs and Victoria University campus.
  • 1km from the new Footscray Hospital development.
  • approximately 6km west from Melbourne's CBD.

Concept plans

Check out the concept plans below.  Hover over the '+' for more information. A text alternative for the concept plans can be found in the panel below.

View the text alternative for an overview of the concept plans

The above concept plans include:

  • Flexible performance venue with 500 seat capacity, designed with the future of theatre in mind, for schools, live music, modern and traditional performances by local and touring artists.
  • Exhibition and gallery space providing spaces where local and international makers and artists can display their works for all to enjoy, promoting cultural economy.
  • Smart, innovative integration as an exemplar of accessible and environmentally sustainable design, to ‘building back better” and ensure the facility is future-proof.
  • State-of-the-art library and flexible community meetings spaces for all-ages, integrating future technology to encourage innovation and a sense of belonging.
  • Open green space as an inclusive, welcoming ‘green’ heart for our distinct inter-cultural community to ‘be‘, within a very urban landscape, with terraced spaces for activities and cohesion with the building.
  • Commercial, administrative offices & not-for-profit opportunities allowing for updated additional privates spaces for work and collaboration. 
  • Inclusive design focus encompassing the traditions of our First Nations people and generations of New Australians who have defined the rich fabric of our region
  • Place-based planning located centre of the community, providing spaces for cultural experiences, technology & learning programs for all, including our diverse, vulnerable and ageing residents, supporting preventive measures for mental health in a welcoming environment.

Impacts on the economy and the community

A business case was prepared in 2019/2020, which showed that NeXT would bring overall benefits to the community, creating many jobs and long term opportunities.

What the business plan reported was as follows:

Timeline icon
4 year time frame for construction.
Total end cost icon
Total end cost of $129 million.
Short term economic benefit icon
Short term economic activity estimated at $369 million.
Jobs created icon
322 jobs created short term - FTE for development.
Long term job opportunites icon
4,700 jobs created through long term opportunities.
Cost icon
A $1.60 cost benefit ratio for every $1 spent over 25 years.

Why we need NeXT

Did you know that 40% of our municipality was born overseas, and our population is estimated to grow by 53% by 2030. Considering this along with opportunities for space getting tighter, we need to think strategically about how we can best plan for our future.

Expand the panel below to view further detail on why we need NeXT.

Find out why we need NeXT

There are many reasons why NeXT is needed and as we look at future population projections, it becomes clear why the NeXT project is needed.

Population growth and tired infrastructure

The existing Footscray library is nearing the end of its useful life (condition and capacity), and the site could be better used by building more than just a library.

Connecting the Community

There is a lack of community learning, performance arts and exhibition spaces that are culturally considerate for the diverse community in Melbourne’s West.

Unifying space

Footscray lacks a unifying public space for people to gather. A civic presence will drive economic investment, creating jobs & enhancing the regions livability.

Investment in Arts

There is a lack of investment (across the state) in purpose-built arts/cultural facilities due to high cost of land and difficulty in quantifying economic benefits. Current facilities lack ability to integrate new technologies to enhance access and inclusion. Also, while there are 39 other large capacity arts, performance and cultural venues across metropolitan Melbourne, there are none in the Western suburbs of Melbourne.

Climate Emergency

With increasing and denser development to come, we need to increase green spaces proportional to the growing population. 

The NeXT journey

A lot of work has been put into turning our vision into a reality. To find out what we've been working on take a look at the timeline in the panel below.

View our timeline

Have a look at our interactive timeline below to read more about what we’ve done so far, all the support we've gained, and what we still need to do (hover over the ' ' and icons for more information). 


Accessible detail from above timeline

2016 Community Request

 The community told Council that they wanted the renovation of the Footscray library to be more than just a library; they voiced a need for better library facilities and more community spaces for meetings, gatherings, performances and exhibitions.

2017-2018 Feasibility Study & Community Engagement

 Architectus & Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects conducted a feasibility study with broad community engagement. The small to large concepts proposed a modern library, flexible performing arts venue, gallery & exhibition spaces, community meeting spaces, Council administration offices, commercial and non-for profit opportunities; set in open green space in the centre of Footscray. Click here to read the Feasibility Report.

2019 Business Case & Community Consultation

 Biruu prepared the business case based on the concepts, including investment logic map and shovel-ready plan to the Department of Treasury Finance’s requirements. Following Council's endorsement, the community was consulted to seek feedback on the scale, concept design options, purpose and functionality of the proposed facilities. Click here to see the Consultation Results. 

2020 Council Endorsement of the Concept

 Following the overwhelming response from the community from the four-month community consultation process, Council endorsed to adopt the ‘large’ concept as the preferred option, to commence targeted advocacy and to commit partial funding for the design of the project.

2021 Advocacy for Support & Funding

 The Mayor, Councillors, CEO and Council project team, along with local MP Katie Hall, have continued to strongly advocate for NeXT. State and Federal ministers and departments have been briefed and met with overall support. Partnerships have been formed with key philanthropic organisations, educational institutions, arts and cultural organisations.

NeXT Steps - Funding Commitment

 NeXT is an ambitious project, which will only proceed with funding from the 3 tiers of government – Local, State and Federal. Council has committed to a proportion of the required funds to realise the vision, but now we need commitment from the State and Federal government. Once the funding arrangements are formed, the design process can proceed.

Stakeholders

NeXT is an ambitious project which will only proceed with funding from the 3 tiers of government – Local, State and Federal. Advocacy has begun for NeXT to secure stimulus from State and Federal Governments to provide both social and economic benefits to the City of Maribyrnong, Melbourne’s west, and Victoria.

During community engagement, we received strong community support for NeXT, and Council supported the development of the large $129m concept design.  

Advocacy summary

 

More information

To find out more about the NeXT project contact our Community Infrastructure Major Projects Team by phoning 9688 0200 or send an email to email@maribyrnong.vic.gov.au