Decades of growth if we get it right

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­THONY GAL­LOWAY COM­MENT

SINCE 2002, there have been 13 dif­fer­ent eco­nomic plans for Townsville’s CBD.

With com­mer­cial va­cancy rates sit­ting at about 27 per cent, these plans have ar­guably borne lit­tle suc­cess.

The plan for the Townsville Wa­ter­front Pri­or­ity De­vel­op­ment Area needs to be dif­fer­ent.

First, this plan can­not be pre­scrip­tive. Apart from the sta­dium and con­ven­tion cen­tre, an arts precinct and pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture such as board­walks, all de­vel­op­ment in this area will be dic­tated by pri­vate sec­tor de­mand.

Land uses are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly fluid. This means a bu­reau­crat in Bris­bane shouldn’t have the fi­nal say on the lo­ca­tion of hotels or apart­ment com­plexes if the de­vel­op­ers who are go­ing to pay for them would pre­fer the de­vel­op­ments else­where.

Sec­ond, be­cause the project cov­ers a di­verse area of creek bank cov­er­ing 97ha, there should be suf­fi­cient op­por­tu­nity for small, medium and large de­vel­op­ers across the seven des­ig­nated precincts. The on­estop shop for ap­provals will hope­fully in­crease in­vest­ment cer­tainty in the area and mas­sively cut ap­proval times.

There does need to be some level of over­sight to en­sure de­vel­op­ments are oc­cur­ring in a strate­gic man­ner. Plan­ning can’t be pop­ulist and piece­meal.

The creation of a joint own­er­ship en­tity be­tween the three ma­jor landown­ers – the State Govern­ment, Townsville City Coun­cil and Port of Townsville – will help ad­dress this. This own­er­ship en­tity will likely fol­low the model adopted in the two pri­or­ity de­vel­op­ment ar­eas in Red­lands.

Where they have the power to do so, the State Govern­ment and coun­cil should en­sure we do not have a re­peat of the Nelly Bay Ferry Ter­mi­nal, where the big- city ar­chi­tec­tural design bore no re­la­tion to its trop­i­cal sur­round­ings.

Just like The Strand, this has the mak­ings of a vi­sion­ary project which could set our city up for decades.

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