CBD plan faces up to financial reality

View from the Ipswich Library verandah

Ipswich City Council has revised its CBD Redevelopment Master Plan, revealed to the public in December last year. The changes come after critical assessments of structural design limitations and financial constraints impacted on the original somewhat ambitious design.

The most notable change provides for the repositioning of the new Ipswich Central Library to the southern side of the new civic square to allow for better integration as well as structural considerations.

Plans for the Bell Street link with an open parkland setting have been scrapped after discovering these plans would push the budget over estimates by $5 million. Instead, the three levels of the building will be renovated to improve pedestrian access between the current Mall and Bell Street and provide for increased retail space. Mostly though, the rethink is to keep the project within budget.

Mayor Andrew Antoniolli said as the project evolved it became evident that a number of elements needed to change because of differing requirements.

“These changes retain all of the original key recommendations from the public feedback sessions,” Cr Antoniolli said.

“All major projects undergo variations during design and construction. This update reflects our desire to offer a wide variety of experiences for the family while sticking to the original budget.

“We have also boosted the food, beverage and entertainment options planned for the civic space based on a report by retail food consultants Brain and Poulter and peer reviewed by Urbis.”

Phillip Bell, President of the Ipswich Chamber of Commerce says while projects of this size will always draw criticism, the end result would ultimately mean growth for the region.
“$150 million investment in such a small space is going to drive growth, it’s going to, it must,” Mr Bell said.

“There will be critics, always. Even though the plans have changed, it will be the customer at the end of the day who decides what it looks like.

“If there’s things there that are missing and there’s a market for it, the consumers will respond accordingly.”