Park­ing worry on CBD arts hall

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - TONY RAGGATT tony. raggatt@ news. com. au

SOME of Townsville’s key per­form­ing arts bod­ies have ques­tioned con­cept plans for a con­cert hall in the CBD, warn­ing that ac­cess and park­ing is­sues need to be re­solved.

The groups are also frus­trated their own plan for a per­form­ing arts com­plex at the Townsville Civic The­atre ( pic­tured) has been ruled out be­cause it is too far from the CBD and Palmer St restau­rants.

Board mem­ber of the Townsville Com­mu­nity Mu­sic Cen­tre and Townsville Eisteddfod Jef­frey Neilsen said their needs ap­peared to be con­sid­ered sec­ondary to hopes of driv­ing CBD de­vel­op­ment.

Townsville City Coun­cil com­mis­sioned project and con­struc­tion man­age­ment con­sul­tant Pure Pro­jects to pro­vide a master­plan for re­ac­ti­vat­ing the CBD.

The con­sul­tant has rec­om­mended a con­cert hall be de­vel­oped on a site sur­round­ing the dis­used Queens Ho­tel on The Strand or in Cen­tral Park over­look­ing Ross Creek.

“Based on our com­mu­nity feed­back, there are gen­eral con­cerns on the ( Civic The­atre) lo­ca­tion and ( its) re­mote­ness from key din­ing precincts such as Palmer and Flin­ders streets,” the re­port says. “There­fore, from a CBD ac­ti­va­tion as­pect, we do not see this lo­ca­tion as the best op­tion for the new con­cert hall.”

The mu­sic cen­tre, Townsville Eisteddfod, Aus­tralian Con­certo and Vo­cal Com­pe­ti­tion and Bar­rier Reef Orches­tra have pushed plans for per­form­ing arts fa­cil­i­ties based on an ex­pan­sion of the Civic The­atre.

Mr Nielsen said de­vel­op­ment of a con­cert hall was sorely needed but plan­ners seemed not to have recog­nised ac­cess and park­ing is­sues.

He said the Townsville Eisteddfod was the city’s largest per­form­ing arts event in­volv­ing thou­sands of chil­dren.

He said ac­cess to the Queens Ho­tel site was con­strained and Cen­tral Park was too small to pro­vide ac­cess and park­ing. If the ad­join­ing Dean St car park was used, pedes­trian ac­cess over a four- lane di­vided road­way was needed.

“How would we get 1000 school­child­ren from Dean Park to Cen­tral Park safely and ef­fi­ciently sev­eral times a day?” Mr Nielsen said.

Aus­tralian Con­certo and Vo­cal Com­pe­ti­tion pres­i­dent Chris Dall’Osto was not op­posed to a new iconic build­ing in the CBD but also ques­tioned in­ner- city lo­ca­tions.

Bar­rier Reef Orches­tra chair Judy Hunter said there was a des­per­ate need for more per­form­ing arts space.

“We have been wait­ing for this sec­ond the­atre since 1978. I have sat on so many com­mit­tees that have talked about this over the years. I can’t see any­thing hap­pen­ing in my life­time,” she said.

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