Monday 7 March 2011

City Place becomes the battle over shitty space

City Place - the centre of our small town, has had a long history of bureaucratic bulls-ups and confused town planning. What is the future for what should be an important public meeting space?

The proposed City Place redevelopment is causing a lot of anger in the community, who have been largely ignored at the State Government push through Queensland Transport's Transit Network plan, that will see buses take ownership of the central city intersection of Lake and Shields Streets.

There are two public meetings today being held: 2pm - Calypso Cafe, Hides corner of City Place, and at 6.30pm, Havana Music Cafe, 113 Lake Street (50m north of City Place).

The transport plan is meant to be working alongside Cairns Regional Council's City Centre Master Plan, but it appears that it's a one way street, in more that one way, if you know what I mean.

Over the last 10 years, previous councils have ripped the town centre apart and made a mess of what had been a functioning public space. It was complete with grassy knolls and plenty of large shady trees. These were all removed, probably under an arrogant and ironic plan to remove people from hanging around, including Aboriginals, something a former Mayor didn't have a liking or an understanding about.

There was a community workshop meeting in February to discuss the Cairns City Centre Master Plan. Cairns Regional Council will host another meeting (they love meetings, but do they listen?) on Monday 28th March at 6pm. This will be at the Council's civic reception. RSVP Leisa on 4044 3542 or email.

According to Council, this next meeting, consultants will discuss more detailed "design and land-use proposals" for the City centre.

Councillor Rob Pyne says he cannot pretend he was not a part of the process to change the use of City Place, though he says some councillors will.

"Rachel Reese from Queensland Transport has briefed us many times and gave us input," Rob Pyne says. "I have keep my constituents informed along the way. I support the Cairns Transit Network."

However Pyne is aware the community is unhappy with City Place as it is.

"Every redevelopment ends up as something worse than before. The ratepayer is sick of spending big money for poor outcomes," Rob Pyne says. "There are only two options now on the table. That is the Cairns Transit Network, which is 100% state funded; and the second option is no change at all."

"I support the Cairns Transit Network and people with more brains than I have come up with it and been awarded commendations on their work. They can answer questions so much better than I."

As part of the proposed redesign of City Place to allows buses through, the 'Greening of Grafton' will see the two lanes in Grafton Street reduced to one, mainly for safety reasons. Also Lake Street will be extended to Airport Drive.

"If this CBD section does not get funding now, we have little hope of extending the network stages 2 and onwards," Rob Pyne says. "This means people in Woree and further south will be denied their transit way, bus stations and regular transit services. At the end of the day, the provision of those services is my main priority and working with the state government is the only way to achieve this."

A regular commentator of local transport issues, Pat Flanagan, says there is an assumption that pedestrian spaces and public transport corridors are mutually exclusive.

"I am of the view that road corridors that have for too many years been seen as the domain of private vehicles to exclusion of other users has lead to a view that pedestrian spaces must be for the exclusive use of pedestrians," Pat Flanagan says. "Road corridors should be seen for what they are- corridors for community communication and interaction. They should be shared spaces, particularly in CBD, without any particular user having dominance."
Flanagan says that road corridors in CBDs should be "people places" but not exclusively so.

"These shared spaces should be able with careful design to accommodate pedestrians, cycles, private vehicles, public transport as part of their transport function but also provide for meeting places, shady spots, entertainment , dining places, public art etc as part of their community function," Pat Flanagan says. "There are plenty of examples, particularly in European cities, where public squares and places are also public transport corridors and hubs."

"It appears to me that City Place issues are design issues rather than a debate about exclusive use for particular transport nodes. The concept of shared space helps to break down unnecessary delineation and dis-aggregation of the CBD," Pat Flanagan says. "A vibrant CBD will include shared spaces, good PT for accessibility and thriving active spaces with dynamic “conflict” to create excitement."

Queensland party candidate for Cairns , DJ Hunt, has called on the other parties to publicly declare their position on the proposed changes to Cairns City place.

"I call for community consultation and discussion to be held regarding the threatened changes," DJ Hunt said. “The community consultation regarding the City Place aspect has been tokenistic at best. City Place should be a focal point given its relative central location in the CBD and returned to its former glory as a meeting place for local people to relax and enjoy the ambiance."

Hunt says that fleets of buses roaring through the middle and plumes of exhaust smoke aren’t compatible.

"Cairns has many unique features that showcase our city and the City Place is one that with a little work could continue to do so for years to come,” DJ Hunt says. "Just because mistakes have been made and it has been turned into an eyesore, shouldn’t be grounds for turning it into a bus depot. There are other options available but as usual, the state government is playing school yard bully again, strong arming and threatening stakeholders into supporting what they know is a bad decision."

The question basically is what do the community want. If we wish to retain an open square without a through bus service, then we must demand this. There may be a suitable alternative rather the accept the decision from the Department of Transport and their dictatorial stand over approach by making the southern road corridor upgrade linked to the redesign of city place.

  • PUBLIC MEETINGS: “Save City Place! – Heart of Cairns”
    Monday 7th March
    - 2pm - Calypso Cafe, Hides corner of City Place
    - 6.30pm, Havana Music Cafe, 113 Lake Street (50m north of City Place)

  • Monday 28th March at 6pm
    - Council community workshop, civic reception. RSVP Leisa on 4044 3542 or email.


Alison Alloway said...

I really feel the days of City Place are over. It was built, using some female labour, in or around 1983/84. The only shopping centres at that time were Westcourt and Raintrees and they were much smaller than what we see now. We did not have the population growth then at the Northern or Southern end of the city, so City Place was in the early 80s a central, focus point of the city. Most public services were located in the CBD and Woolworths situated between Abbott and Lake Streets was heavily patronised. The tremendous changes in the city since the 80s have seen the establishment of one-stop-shop air-conditioned shopping centres and the dispersal of the public service offices. The re-development of the Cairns Esplanade from a narrow stretch of land bordered by stinking mudflats has also attracted people away from the City Place. Many of the community functions which used to be held in City Place are now held on the Esplanade. I believe therefore, it is doubtful that we can ever reclaim the same popularity of the City Place as it once had. City Place has served its time.

Bryan Law said...

Alison, I didn't come to Cairns until the 90s, and City Place was an attractive open air venue in the heart of the city where one could hanf out, watch the world go by, and catch up with all kinds of folk.

It's true there have been serial attempts to wreck it since then, most notably Kevin Byrne's racist hatred of Aborigines in public spaces.

The CRC discussion paper for the City Centre Master Plan notes that Cairns has no City Square for public meetings or politics - but it doesn't even mention City Place, and makes no proposal for any alternative.

The destruction of City Place has been unilaterally mandated by the Dept of Transport. CRC has just gone along.

I suspect Val doesn't care much about City Place, and will cop its destruction as long as she gets her cultural centre (which she does care about).

There IS going to be another expensive make-over of City Place - turning lake St into a bus station, and more of Shields St into pedestrian spaces. This is going to be done before ANY other bits of the transit system are put in place (like bus services for instance).

I'm not inclined to accept this kind of arrogance from the DTMR, or the negligence by CRC.

I want a city square.

The you beaut transit system can use Abbott St. How hard is that?

DJ Hunt said...

It's a shame that something that used to be so good has turned into 'shitty place'

D.J.HUNT said...

Allison, the people that have attended the meetings so far have come up with some really sound and low cost options that would again revitalise City Place. City Place will never reclaim its former popularity in it's current configuration, the glare and heat nearly burn your eyeballs on a sunny day.
I believe the council and govt have done a fantastic job with the Esplanade, but I do believe that City Place can still have a role to play in our identity as a vibrant, welcoming and friendly city.

Alison Alloway said...

One of the great tragedies with city planning occurred during the term of Dav e de Jarlais (Nat Party) who was Mayor 1969-73 and again 1977-78 when his Council refused to dedicate a historical precinct for a section of the city. It was first raised by Councillor Margaret Cossins. Mayor Perc Tucker had declared a historical precinct for Townsville and Cr Cossins argued for a similar precinct in Cairns, That precinct today could have been closed off to traffic and provided visitors with a feel of the city as it once was, a boisterous, rollicking far flung Far Northern outpost.

KitchenSlut said...

Alison is right, City Place is way past its use-by date and denial of this is a block on progress to something better. The world has moved on. The proposal doesn't go far enough and a bulldozer down Lake St to reopen the thoroughfare to all traffic would be welcome. Stop pouring public funds down a hole. KS will volunteer to drive the dozer for free to cut costs.

The creation of additional public space down Shields St should be prefered with the Shields St precint already zoned and the most attractive thoroughfare in the CBD that could be turned into something special. Long term Shields could becoome a pedestrian thoroughfare linking the Esplanade with Central and such as the emerging lively Grafton St precinct.

Alison Alloway said...

Your ideas sound fine to me KS! I also support your suggestion of bringing in a Government agency of ASIC complete with full compliance administration to the CBD. The business sector of the Far North has always been a pretty lawless place ever since the days of the second world war carpet-baggers. (Some interesting history there.)

Unknown said...

Please bring back the shade of beautiful trees in all public spaces.

Bryan Outlaw said...

I wouldn't be one to rely on the rantings of Pat Flanagan. Flanagan's firm has been integral to some of the worst shit built in this town over the years, and he's also been integral in helping gut the hillside protections and other community-protective legislation. This company is a developer community rapist for hire.

And clearly Bryan Law only wants something built that will contribute to his abuse of the public. His public speaking should be limited to toilets.

Allison Alloway is mostly correct. The CBD as it used to exist is dead. No type of clever planning is going to make it come back as it was. Alternative commercial and retail uses need to be found, a prospect limited by greedy landlords who think everything should command top tourism dollars. Even Gavin King has been told by several merchants about the unreasonble gouging of tenants by the landlords. And even if the buildings sit empty, with negative gearing these con artists win. Until public pressure and government restructuring makes empty buildings incur REAL losses to these vultures, the massive churn of businesses in the CBD will continue.

Alison Alloway said...

Good to see some people agree with me! Yes Bryan Outlaw the rents within the inner CBD are outrageous and guaranteed to see a never ending turnover of sole traders trying to make a quid. If we need a centrally located place of beauty to gravitate to, I don't know why more hasn't been done to Munro Martin Park. It could be turned into something very beautiful, with an exotic garden, an aquarium whatever....but preferably gated and kept locked at night.

Carole Ford said...

I think we need an overall city concept - which integrates areas & uses free hop on/hop off small buses to transport people around the city centre.
Reduce traffic in the city, rationalise the shooping strips, upgrade maintenance requirements, increase greenery - total makeover rather than fiddling at the edges of an upgrade.

Bryan Law said...

Alison Alloway says "but preferably gated and kept locked at night". Good grief Alison, are you one of those who approves KB's racism and believes the nonsense about [code word coming up] "itinerants"?

Munro Martin Park was fairly heavily used 8-15 years ago by a large number of families who would enjoy picnics and play days in the last open green area of Cairns not dominated by commercial interests.

Under Mayor Byrne, water taps were removed, the toilet block closed, and police/security patrols used to "move-on" "itinerants".

Now that it's under-used (just like City Place) gullible and compliant citizens like yourself will agree to it being given away to some commercial interest.

Please, if you see me around the city, DON'T say hello. I've had more than enough of ignorant citizens swallowing the corrosive and hateful racism this city "enjoys".

Bryan Law said...

Carole Ford, there'll be a "community" workshop on Monday 28 March, 6.00 pm at the Civic Reception Rooms of CRC about the CBD master plan. You ought register and have a look at what is being planned.

Rip what's left of the heart out of City Place (First thing), and then eventually replace it with a cultural precinct which delivers windfall profits to land-owners on the south of Grafton St.

The cultural precinct may be a real good thing. I guess we'll find out in 10 years or so.

My bet is the existing centre of Cairns will be left to become a derelict old slum. I hope I'm still alive to say "I told you so".

Bryan Law said...

KS ol' buddy, before you drive that dozer be real careful to check the fuel and hydraulics in case some naughty person has sabotaged them.

Michael P Moore said...

Bryan, KitchenSlut could loan Paul Freebody's dozer, situated at his default waterpark development site at Smithfield. He obviously doesn't need it any more.

KitchenSlut said...

Funnily enough, Kitchenslut dropped by the bottlo in Aplin last night for some Dogajolo when some buffoon rudely barged in front to drop an armful of cheap sauvignon blanc on the counter and then wander away with his mobile glued to an ear. Yes, it was Freebody!

Kitchenslut's niece has recently educated him that current Gen Y vernacular for the flood of cheap sauv blanc is 'bitch diesel'. Perhaps this is then an appropriate fuel for Freebody?

Regardless, KS would be happy to borrow Freebody's dozer and fueled with the 'bitch diesel'is confident that he can engineer a creative reconfiguration of City Place! This could be funded from Council's public art program?

Bryan Law said...

Alcohol does lend a certain confidence to those who imbibe. and I have to admit that tooling around on a dozer to creatively alter a despised site has a certain attraction.

maybe when CEC goes bust we can have a wave of such artistic expression. I bags Harbour Blights.