LETTERS: CBD plan won't address problem

I WAS disappointed but not surprised by the recent announcement that 'Retail Stage One had been approved by Ipswich City Council and that this new round of building would revitalise the CBD.

I welcome some aspects of the design, for example reversing Council's previous approval to close the city to the river and open it up to the new River Heart Parklands is an excellent idea.

Pedestrian access to the Bradfield Bridge without having to negotiate your way through a dimly lit carpark is also a good idea.

The architecture of any new buildings will likely be better than what occupies that site now; however the problems that the CBD faces do not come about through lack of buildings.

The problem is that many of the buildings are empty.

In 1985, council approved the demolition of most of the significant historical buildings in the CBD in order to revitalise the CBD.

Despite protests at the time, Kern corporation knocked out the heart of the CBD and built a new one. Everyone had the best intentions, but the project was an abject failure.

The next major step for the CBD was the approval of the Riverlink shopping centre in North Ipswich, which was also to revitalise the CBD. About 60 shops either closed or moved out of the CBD within months of it opening.

On both occasions the new buildings failed to produce the intended result, no revitalisation occurred.

In 2008, council bought out the owners of the major portion of the CBD and another phase of revitalisation was heralded.

The recently completed Icon Tower was the next major project and again revitalisation of the CBD was supposed to occur.

The retail portion of Icon Tower facing Bell Street has never had tenants.

The rot in the CBD continues, Bank of Queensland left the mall last month, Harvey Norman is just waiting until its new building is ready and it will go too.

We are not going to be saved by another new building. While people are flocking to revitalised cities all over Australia, our council still thinks that the next big building will perform some kind of miracle.

This is cargo cult thinking; that salvation will arrive in a big new building bringing people, goods and prosperity.

Having had businesses in the CBD since 2003, I am no longer a believer.

JIM McKEE, Candidate for Division 7

 

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