23 September 2019

It's boom-time in Q-town, but who benefits?

| Alex Rea
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Queanbeyan NSW Photo: QPRC

Queanbeyan NSW Photo: QPRC

Post-amalgamation, it’s boom time for Queanbeyan, but what about the rest of the Shire? Mayor Tim Overall has his foot on the accelerator as funds flow freely ahead of the NSW State election in 2019, shortly followed by a Federal election.

Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) has wasted no time in pushing through plans, including new Council chambers and a regional sports centre, not to mention the controversial Ellerton Drive Extension, priced at $86 million.

But how do ratepayers of the Shire, stretching from Sutton to Captain’s Flat and Majors Creek, feel about the multi-million dollar injection of funds or projects primarily targeted at the major urban centre? The amalgamation process delivered around $15 million in funding to QPRC, but critics insist that the investment doesn’t necessarily mean benefits for the shire as a whole. They point out that Canberra is the natural economic centre of the region. Therefore the money spent in Queanbeyan is less likely to benefit Sutton and Bungendore residents than if Queanbeyan was a true hub.

QPRC residents had until 5 pm on Wednesday 31 October to have their say on the Draft Retail Growth Strategy. The Strategy aims to “identify and recommend realistic and innovative strategies to achieve the long-term rejuvenation of the Queanbeyan CBD. This includes identifying prioritised actions for stakeholders, such as businesses, community and Council.”

In June QPRC decided on the Queanbeyan CBD transformation strategy, to re-locate Council’s new head office and proposed new smart hub. The project, which will be paid for via merger savings, lease income and review of services is budgeted at $32 million and expected to be completed by 2022.

Design for the new QPRC offices in the Queanbeyan CBD.

Design for the new QPRC offices in the Queanbeyan CBD.

Last week QPRC also agreed to progress a proposal to sell surplus Council-owned sites on the corner of Rutledge and Crawford Streets to private developers Downtown Q Pty Ltd (DQPL), “in accordance with the Unsolicited Proposals Guidelines and Heads of Agreement previously signed between the two parties.” The sites are currently occupied by Council staff; however, with the redevelopment of Council’s Queanbeyan administration building in Crawford Street, they will be surplus to Council requirements.

Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council Mayor Tim Overall said, “For a number of years, Council staff have been inefficiently housed in 11 different buildings across the CBD. It is important for the health and efficiency of the organisation that we get staff into a purpose-built office space.”

In September, John Barilaro announced $550,000 for the next stage of the Queanbeyan Riverwalk project bringing the total funding package to over $1.7m. The Riverwalk project will extend the paths along the river corridor, linking the golf course, parklands and urban areas with the CBD. Mayor Overall said the Riverwalk project was an important part of an overall transformation of the Queanbeyan CBD.

Alongside the plans for the CBD, the NSW Government is building new Police Station to the tune of $17 million. A $1.5 million Bicentennial Hall upgrade will incorporate upgraded professional spaces including a stage, box office and dressing rooms.

Upgrades to the approach to Queen's Bridge on Bungendore Road.

Upgrades to the approach to Queen’s Bridge on Bungendore Road.

A QCBD Smart City Project to the value of $931,000 is to be completed by June 2019, jointly funded by Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS) Smart Cities and Suburbs Program and Council in a 50/50 split. The Smart City project will deliver free public Wi-Fi, smart street lighting, smart parking, CCTV including video analytics, environmental sensors for emissions, noise and traffic and 3D digital city modelling to the CBD.

Earlier this month, Member for Monaro John Barilaro announced that Queanbeyan will soon have a $30 million regional sports complex to meet the recreation needs of its surging population. The sporting complex is proposed for a 24-hectare greenfield site in South Jerrabomberra. A $10 million NSW Government grant from the Regional Sports Infrastructure Fund will kick off the project.

Dutton’s Cottage, c 1880, is one of the heritage buildings to be sold off.

The Queanbeyan Indoor Sports Centre has also had a $4.5 million upgrade including a $2.25 million Community Development Grant from the Federal Government and matching Council funds will see the expansion.

In March 2018, QPRC conditionally approved a development application for a cinema in the Queanbeyan CBD. The development incorporates a nine-screen cinema complex with a total seating capacity of 1,315 patrons, licensed bar, lounge area and arcade.

Should Queanbeyan alone benefit from the major pre-election cash flow? Do other QPRC residents get a fair go from the funding?

Original Article published by Alex Rea on the RiotACT.

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Barilaro stayed that extra funding that the council will need to provide will come out of Section 94 developer contributions…… the only major developer is GOOGONG Township, so it seems like they (the council) will likely try to use funding that are legally required to be spent on infrastructure promised in a contract that all land holder in GOOGONG have paid for via additional costs included when purchasing land, we also pay higher rates that were also supposed to benefit the GOOGONG people to which funding and infrastructure has been move to other parts of the region.

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