Wingham CBD masterplan: we’re listening

MidCoast Council

We are still considering many submissions received both during and after the recent community consultation on Wingham’s CBD masterplan.

“While we were hoping to report to Council on the masterplan at this week’s Council meeting, we are now expecting to report to the following meeting on 28 July 2021,” said Council’s Director of Infrastructure and Engineering Services, Rob Scott.

“This is to allow time for us to fully consider every submission, and to have follow up meetings and conversations with those who have expressed concerns about the concept plans presented to the community during April and May this this year.”

“Overwhelmingly, Wingham has told us that they would like to see the CBD improved and the community doesn’t want to see the project stalled.

“However, some of the feedback we received raised genuine concerns. We are working with those groups and individuals to resolve their concerns.”

Mr Scott clarified that the draft masterplan provides broad concept ideas – not the detailed design plans. He said that some confusion was generated in the community when the masterplan concept plans were interpreted as being final construction detailed plans.

Some claims circulating were incorrect, for example the plans do not involve moving the Rotary clock, and no trees within the confines of Central Park were proposed to be removed. The overall intention behind the concept plans will increase greenery in the CBD, providing more shade, not reduce it.

“We are continuing the conversation with our community to ensure we get it right for Wingham on details for the plan – including the Bent and Farquhar Street intersection treatment, tree plantings for the centre of Isabella and Bent Streets, and the Central Park interface with Isabella Street.”

Parking is a significant concern for Wingham residents and local business, and we have heard that people want to be able to park close to the shops, especially for quick shopping trips.

“One option we’re exploring is providing off-street car parks, in addition to the McCullagh Lane car park, that will provide car parking for all-day parking like local business employees. We could also trial a two-hour time limit for parking in Isabella Street between Bent and Primrose Streets.

“This would increase the turnover of parking in the highest activity area throughout the day, which is particularly important for older people and people living with a disability. It would also encourage all day parking outside of the most active area of the CBD.”

Regarding the Farquhar and Bent Street intersections, Mr Scott said Council will ultimately need to make the decision on the best design solution. He said the decision is complex, and there are pros and cons for both of the options put forward for the intersection.

“Regardless of which style is chosen, there will be an improvement to safety as a result.

“We have previously committed to the reconstruction of Farquhar Street from Queen Street up to and including the Bent Street intersection. Regardless of what happens at the intersection, we can make a start on works for Farquhar Street. Then once a decision on the intersection is made, we can expand what we are doing to include the intersection.”

Regarding the choice of central street trees, Council had committed to purchasing mature trees, because they will provide shade a lot sooner. There are positives and negatives associated with most tree species. Few species come without impacts in terms of fruit, seeds or leaves. Selecting a species is even more limited if we want ones that are already a reasonable size and in the numbers to complete the job. We will need to select a species that achieves the objectives.

“Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of choices for of local native species that are available to buy commercially in a mature state,” said Mr Scott.

“We are consulting with local community tree experts and nurseries, and ultimately Council will make that final decision.”

“Our staff has met with specific interest groups in order to discuss a recent petition and we have received refined submissions from some groups since then to formalise the feedback given at these meetings,” added Mr Scott.

“We have committed to continue these discussions as the final Council report is compiled so that the groups are aware of the recommended outcome well before the meeting.

“We’re confident we can resolve most concerns in a constructive way.”

For more detail on the consultations held, follow the CBD Masterplan project page above.

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