Monday 4 April 2011

Many questions that need answering on CBD Masterplan

There's still many unanswered questions following the recent public meeting about the city's Masterplan, that presently involves turning City Place into a bus thoroughfare, a concept that has enraged many.

Geoff Holland reports back on the well-attended public meeting that included CBD Councillor Alan Make and Mayor Val Schier.

The contracted designers Architectus from Brisbane assured everyone that the planning process had not been finalised and the designers were still very much open to ideas. However, Caroline Stalker of Architectus admitted that she had been handed a brief from Queensland Transport that City Place would be opened up to buses.

Caroline talked about how to make the city centre more people-friendly in order to attract more people back into the city centre. Cr Blake also talked about the donut we had created in the city centre, and need to revitalise the city centre.

Councillors who attended the forum were Mayor Val Schier, Deputy Mayor Margaret Cochrane, Cr Di Forsyth and Cr Alan Blake.

The plan is for a triangle of green pedestrian-friendly space running from the Esplanade up Shields St to Grafton St, then down Grafton St to the waterfront, and then along the waterfront back to the Esplanade at Shields St. The section of Shields St from Grafton to McLeod, Cairns Central, appears to have been left out of the plan, though there is a general plan to provide much more shade throughout the CBD.

Caroline soon led the discussion to key issues such as what type and colour of pavers would be used. This is a strategy often used by government officials and their proxies in community consultation sessions to railroad discussion away from fundamental issues.

However, during question time some members of the audience asked the question - How we can talk of city planning without also discussing transport? If we want to bring more people into the city centre, how are we going to do that given that there are more cars in the city centre than ever before? And that even if more car parks are built, the streets will be choked by cars trying to get in and out.

Caroline herself had talked about a people-centred focus rather than a car-centred focus.

The question was asked "Why are there no representatives from Queensland Transport here at this meeting?"

People sat in groups around various tables. Was there an attempt to group those who might been seen as difficult around the one table? It seemed so but that strategy was largely unsuccessful.

Caroline came to help out at the table which had the largest number of potentially difficult people on it and asked the question "do you want to talk about the built environment or transport?" Again it was reiterated that the two issues are interlinked and must be considered in an integrated way: Where do we want to attract people to, and how do we facilitate them arriving and leaving?

Architectus are currently working on the idea of "shifting City Place" to the space on Shields St between Lake St and Grafton St, but would still include a road for service vehicle access (deviating from the Queensland Transport plan which also allows cars to enter from Lake St).

Some members of the audience pointed out that this would mean the space was not a pedestrian precinct as such but would be a 'shared space'. Also, this canyon space was not appropriate for a sound stage and was much more restricted than City Place. The need to work with existing cultural heritage was raised, for example in the context of City Place, defined by the historic Hides Hotel on one side and School of the Arts building on the other.

“If anyone has more to say, that’s what Divisional Councillors are for, and we’ll all be happy to hear from you," Councillor Alan Blake said in his opening address. However later on one member of the public pointed out to Mr Blake as part of the earlier workshop that he'd telephoned him three weeks ago to ask for an appointment to talk about City Place. He promised he’d ring back with a time, but he never did.
Mayor Val Schier recognised that the idea of having a frequent free shuttle bus from parking areas around the city. For example, around Munro Martin park and the Showgrounds, a suggestion that came came up a number of times and that the idea could be explored further. However this idea has already been rejected by Queensland Transport.

Mayor Val Schier agreed to hold another similar meeting in the near future but this time with representatives of Queensland Transport present.

One would also think that since so much policy and planning seems to be coming from Brisbane, that State MPs Desley Boyle and Steve Wettenhall, who appears to be active in fast-tracking the agenda to bulldoze City Place, would also be present.

At the request of some members of the forum, Architectus agreed that the results of this meeting should be made available on the Council's website at so the rest of the community can observe the planning process and contribute their comments and ideas, and also to ensure some degree of accountability and transparency.

There is still some way to go and many questions that need answering.


Richard Hertz said...

I too was at this consultation with the CBD community last week. And unlike many of the attendees, including Mr Holland, I've been to ALL the consultations on this subject. Brickbatting the process when you've not participated is wrong, Mr. Holland.

I agree that the transport issues are integral to the design issues in the CBD and most of the transport issues were worked out by council and the state government (who control public transport) long ago. Wading into a meeting cycle and attacking decisions that are done and dusted is counterproductive to the process and annoying to those who have been working the issues all along.

The fact is that "City Place" is finished. And the bulk of the attendees understand and respect this decision. It's no longer the "heart" of the city, and no amount of nostalgia for the 1970's is going to recover it from the discard pile. It makes much more sense to use Lake street as the major transit hub, with full thru access to at least buses and taxis over what is now the disused City Place. THIS DECISION IS ALREADY MADE. Finito. Likewise the decision to make Grafton Street one lane, like the successful one-laning of Macleod Street. These are pedestrian areas and moving thru traffic into Sheridan and Abbott makes good planning sense.

Mr. Holland is right that planning decisions seem to come in part from Brisbane. That's because they hold the money. Nevertheless the CBD traders and residents who've attended these meetings all along are in agreement with the framework advanced by council and their consultants. People that believe "participation" means rocking up at 10 to Midnight and complaining about what's happened earlier are sadly what's wrong with many in our community. This means you Bryan Law, who always at public meetings, takes the attitude that "If I didn't hear about it, I haven't been consulted". He browbeat this audience with his dead 70's rhetoric as well. Yawn.

We discussed paving and other details because THAT'S WHERE WE'RE AT IN THE PROCESS. Council publishes notices regularly on their website and in the press for consultations on all sorts of matters. If you're too lazy to read about these things when they start, don't show up at the end and whinge about the lack of consultation.

Tony Hillier said...

The City Place is dead and buried! Let it rest, I say. Too much public money has already been squandered in sadly misguided attempts to resurrect the carcass, toadstool, Caroma Cascade et al. It makes sense to put a fresh emphasis on Grafton Street, which was, after all, the cultural core of the CBD for the first century of Cairns' existence. There's still a few historical facades there (Alcatraz, oops Gilligan's, excepted, of course).

Bryan Law said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bryan Law said...

Dick Hurts, is that your name?

A few of your points need correcting dick.

First, Councillors tell me the Transit Plan was a fait accompli they’re still trying to tinker with. Transport and Main Roads said it was “take it or leave it, and if you leave it you’ll get nothing”. That’s blackmail, not problem-solving.

Second, Brisbane doesn’t “hold the money”. The Queensland government is bankrupt sport. No money at all. The Cairns Transit Plan is 100% unfunded.

Third “THE DECISION IS ALREADY MADE” – not. Any electorate that can’t overturn a “decision” this feeble is probably not worth caring about. The decision was only ever going to be effective if no-one knew about it. Since Geoff has been publishing about it, at least three Councillors have changed their mind. The mayor has said it’s still negotiable. The Queensland Party has promised to reverse it.

Fourth, ‘finito’ is a corrupt use of “finished’ used almost exclusively by Yanks, and isn’t big in Australia. Are you the sneering “professional” who sat next to me at the workshop pronouncing what’s best for Cairns – based no doubt on your superior knowledge. If you are then my personal advice to you stands. Extract head from bum, sport.

Fifth and final, I don’t use “dead 70s rhetoric”. I’m much more modern than that. I use antiquated 90s rhetoric about democracy, participation and engagement. Unlike you I have no desire to use 2011 rhetoric, especially when that rhetoric reflects the new bureaucratic fascism.

Steve Wettenhall might be finished, but City Place lives on.

Especially when we get “Kamerunga” up on stage five times a week.

Bryan Outlaw said...

Bryan, mate. You need to cut back on the wacky weed. "Finito" isn't corrupt anything, it's Italian.

KitchenSlut said...

It's good to see some sense at last coming from some informed intelligent people such as Richard and Tony Hillier on City Place. This dog has had it's day and any move to maintain it is a blight on the progress of Cairns.

The strategy proposed by the consultants is on the right path and offers an opportunity for the City to move beyond current paradigms to something better. Tony is correct that the current cultural and social hub of the city is actually Grafton St.

The move to street cultures such as Grafton St is consistent with urban trends elsewhere in places such as Melbourne where that city's grid of streets is actually seen as an asset attracting increasing global attention. The proposed triangle strategy links the key areas of Shields St, Grafton to the convention / cultural centre with the waterfront and Esplanade.

The diversionary issues of transport and soundshells is simply a bunch of troglodytes with their heads stuck in a time warp and unable to let their feeble brains escape.

Oh, Bryan please keep away from displaying your financial ignorance last time I looked Qld had a triple A credit rating and was far from broke and no any transport infrastructure is NOT "unfunded".

Bryan Law said...

I’m happy to enhance a Grafton St luvvies precinct, and even have a cultural centre and museum around its southern end. I’m happy to have a green pedestrian triangle traversing the Cairns Donut. What I don’t understand is why you’d build a bus station that destroys the only town square we’ve got.

It’s not needed for the transit system (more services are needed in the transit system, and a loop bus around the donut). I like and use City Place for political purposes, and I’m unwilling to lose the $1.8 million Pandanus soundstage, where I can see Kamerunga at play. I’m certainly not willing to lose City Place to the whim of the Department of Transport and Main Roads, the priests of car worship. I mean, how 20th century.

MG said...

gotcha comes to mind bryan law

a little digging and within 5 mins bingo

love it that you are a complete tool

cant wait to trace the money back to you as already traced the site to you and yours

MG said...

lol did the truth about law hurt MM so much that you deleted the post?

tsk tsk its in the cairns post today anyway

amazing what a little investigation can achieve when one makes availableinteresting information

Bryan Law said...

MG, old sport, the money’s the easy part. No social revolutionary in the 21st century could operate without the trusty PayPal account. I’ll be interested to see if you can track the transaction as a semi-private eye. Would an admission help? I wouldn’t want you to strain yourself. Here goes:

“It is I, dastardly Bryan Law, wot thought of, paid for, registered and constructed the site. I WILFULLY initiated political discussion in Cairns using pseudo cyber irony. (A perfectly legitimate form of art/political expression of the times.

So sue me. Please...........pretty please?