EXCLUSIVE: Major plan to rebuild CBD including hospital, uni
JUST days after the regional deal was announced for the Hinkler electorate, Bundaberg Regional Council has revealed an epic plan to revitalise the central business district.
The council's executive director of strategic projects and economic development Ben Artup yesterday presented to local builders and developers at the Urban Development Institute of Australia meeting.
Mr Artup had previously worked on the Western Sydney City Deal and spoke to the planning and mapping required.
"The Bundaberg CBD needs new economic anchors," Mr Artup said.
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"We need magnet infrastructure that attracts skills and investment to stimulate economic agglomeration and positive spill-over effects.
"When lots of people work together in dense locations they tend to collaborate and innovate more, and tend to come up with products and inventions there are advantages to putting large infrastructure items into the CBD."
Mr Artup made planning recommendations that included the CBD incorporated a level 5 hospital, riverside park lands, a new cultural art gallery and water recreation facility, a new CBD university campus, the east flood levee and main street upgrades.
"We're talking to the feds to ensure they're getting us as much funds as possible to support the development of a level 5 hospital somewhere in Bundaberg," he said.
"These are the big pieces of infrastructure that are vital for the future of our city."
The university campus, situated next to the proposed hospital in the council's plan, has been designed to attract new and existing students to the city.
The info-graphic mapped by the council suggests the CBD be divided into three main sections: the civic and cultural precinct; mixed use retail, commercial and residential precinct; and the health and education precinct.
A fourth area in the design sees Anzac Park and the Bundaberg Bowls Club turned into a riverside recreation park, with the Anzac precinct moving between the two bridges.
Having the hospital located in the CBD has caused concern in the community, with comments stating the area is already traffic-bound and has restricted parking facilities.
Wide Bay Hospital and Health chair of the board Peta Jamieson said it was important the new hospital was close to other medical services but stressed the actual location at this stage was not the focus as long as it was in Bundaberg.
"From our perspective it is one of our priorities for the region as a whole," Ms Jamieson said.
Ms Jamieson said their goal at the moment was to get through the complex planning process, establish a medical learning facility and stimulate education and jobs for the next generation.
"Our hospital, long-term, will have skilled leaders hopefully going on to doing specialty services in university, and I'm very hopeful that's what we can actually deliver. "At the end of the day we want a new hospital, that's the key priority.
"Where that hospital is located should not be the focus. The focus should be, we want a new hospital, and that's the focus of our hospital and health board."
Cr Ross Sommerfeld said the hospital alone would bring young professionals to town who would be looking to live in high-rise accommodation.
"We want to reinvigorate our city, we need more people, and the hospital is going to bring in a lot of money in wages alone," he said.
"It's in the middle of town, and that's going to be a big boost.
"The university in the CBD would be an off-shoot of the hospital because it would be a training hospital.
"CQU was an option but bear in mind UQ have been operating out of the hospital for many years so is it going to be UQ? Is it going to be CQU? We don't know, there are lots of players at the moment."
Councillor Ross Sommerfeld said the council was looking at removing the U-turn facilities as well as the cement blocks dividing the road on Bourbong St to improve traffic flow.
He also said the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery building was quickly becoming outdated and a new gallery space had been suggested for the former civic centre space.
The Bundaberg Port was also identified as an important area of growth to connect the region with the world, with council presenting a $2.6 billion list of infrastructure projects in their presentation.
"We need massive job generating, industry growth to address our long term unemployment problem," the report read.
"This requires skill and industry development, and in our case infrastructure investment that connect trade opportunities with markets."
The report suggested the town had to align with global mega trends, such as digital emersion, leverage existing Bundaberg advantages, like agriculture and tourism, to connect advantage with demand through stronger port infrastructure.
"It will be a bit of a game-changer in terms of the potential of the CBD and its direction over time," Mr Artup said.
"We also had a meeting this morning to explore the de-maining of Quay St to slow down traffic to make sure they've got plenty of availability to develop the riverfront and CBD areas. That's a big project that requires other alternate by-pass options for heavy trucks coming over the bridge to be diverted."