Councillor Diane Gray to chair committee on Armidale mall redevelopment

MOVING FORWARD: Armidale Regional Council councillor Diane Gray will chair the Business Advisory Committee reference group.
MOVING FORWARD: Armidale Regional Council councillor Diane Gray will chair the Business Advisory Committee reference group.

IT’S the issue that divided the community.

Now, councillor Diane Gray will chair a committee to tackle the mall development.

Armidale Regional Council received hundreds of submissions on the $4.6 million plan to put a road through the central mall.

The Business Advisory Committee will liaise with consultants to come up with a design that the community is happy with, Cr Gray said.

“This reference group will be made up with people from different sections of the community,” she said.

“We’re getting the expertise, people with architectural and historical background to help.”

But, not everyone thinks it’s a wise choice.

Save the Armidale Mall committee member Maria Hitchcock said putting a reference group at the helm of a planning matter is a mistake.

I'm going to support this notion because it's better than nothing.

Margaret O'Connor

“The Business Advisory Committee is made up of representatives from the Armidale and Guyra Business Chambers and Locals for Locals,” Ms Hitchcock said.

“The mall is not their exclusive precinct.

“Tasking the Business Advisory Committee with overseeing a reference group to deal with planning matters is giving them a job they are not qualified for.”

Mall traders, business owners, chambers of commerce, the Aboriginal community, disability access and emergency services will be in the reference group.

Councillor Margaret O’Connor said she wanted a broader role than what was described in the report to council.

“I took steps to make that part of today’s agenda but it wasn’t successful,” she said at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I’m going to support this notion because it’s better than nothing.

“I will be watching this with great respect to Cr Gray, I’m sure she will do a great job in making sure that all stakeholders will be welcome to have input into the final design and concept.”

What would you like to see in the mall? Let us know here.

Council received 358 responses to their online survey and 161 written submissions, none of the written submissions were included in the report to council.

More than 250 people felt improvements could be made to the central mall, the report showed.

The shared traffic space faced strong opposition, with 296 people voting no on a road in the mall.

The revised idea will take into account the original King and Campbell designs, community-led alt.proposal submissions and community feedback.

Cr Gray said she wanted the committee to dream big on the mall designs.

“If funding’s there, it’s there – whatever the financial restrictions are, we’ll look at that then,” she said.

“But first of all let’s not put those restrictions or limitations on it, because that can stop the creative flow or momentum.

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“Out of this process the community has shown they love Armidale and they’re interested in – they want to have a great place in the mall and we’ve had fantastic constructive feedback.”

Committee members have not been selected yet, but Cr Gray hopes to have preliminary concept designs on the table within three months.


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