THE CBD divide

THE QUEANBEYAN Business Chamber is pressing on with the next stage of their CBD design competition despite criticism from Mayor Tim Overall this week.

Cr Overall questioned the merits of the Business Chamber's proposal which he believes ignores the Council's concept design plans for the CBD.

He also indicated, in a press release sent out earlier in the week, that the group were confusing the public by calling for new plans.

"This doesn't make sense," Cr Overall said.

"Council, in consultation with Queanbeyan businesses and residents, has been working since last year on plans for $4.8 million worth of upgrades to the CBD and the concept design will be going on public exhibition in a few weeks.

"The new Business Chamber has either failed to do their homework on what has been a very public process to date or, for reasons that are difficult to fathom can only be seen to be deliberately trying to impede a critical redesign of the CBD."

Queanbeyan Business Chamber president Jamie Cregan said he was "gobsmacked" by the mayor's reaction to the announcement of the competition but did not want to engage in a "war of words". Mr Cregan is also a Queanbeyan City Councillor.

"I'm gobsmacked by the mayor's response. We're not criticising council or their consultation process and we're not in competition with them," Mr Cregan said.

"What we're doing isn't in competition with Council. Why they've taken it that way? I can't answer that, I don't know.

"We're hoping to build on what is the CBD Master Plan that is endorsed by council, there's nothing new there. We're looking to fill in the areas that they have got in there for possible future development."

Mr Cregan said the Business Chamber will hold a small workshop on April 7 to work out the nuts and bolts of the design brief. The areas included in the brief are still to be determined but he expects it will include the main four blocks of the CBD and the gateway entrance near Spotlight.

"This is about getting ideas and gathering ideas and concepts that are going to be here for Queanbeyan, that's our goal," he said.

"Hopefully we get fantastic ideas and concepts that in future can be taken to developers or further so that they come to fruition."

Mr Cregan said the Business Chamber was still open to working with the council. He hoped the mayor and other councillors would be supportive of the competition.

The Business Chamber had previously approached Cr Overall to sit on the CBD design competition committee. However, Cr Overall had declined citing a possible "serious conflict of interest" as the reason.

Despite expressing doubts about the need for the Business Chamber's proposal, Cr Overall said there was no reason the CBD design competition shouldn't go ahead.

"The two can proceed in parallel, there's no difficulty with that. I have no difficulty personally with the tack being taken by the Queanbeyan Business Chamber," Cr Overall said. 

“However, in regard to inviting me to be on the board with their process, I’ve declined that because I do not want to get into an area where there could be a significant conflict of interest. Council is pursuing one direction and they are pursuing their direction.

“They’re perfectly entitled to undertake this process and [we’re] always open to ideas and input into what Council’s is doing with the CBD improvement program.”

Queanbeyan City Council's concept plans for stage two of the CBD upgrades are expected to be on public exhibition from April 11.

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