The reconstruction of the Beardy Street Mall stage will soon begin, marking a significant milestone in the mall's revitalisation program.
The all-weather sound shell design will heighten the capacity for council and the community to hold regular outdoor events, with the flow on effects set to significantly benefit surrounding businesses.
Armidale Regional Council Mayor Ian Tiley said the reconstruction could not come at a better time.
"The region is coming out of its second lockdown, so businesses are feeling the harsh impacts of extended closures and a decrease in foot traffic and visitors to the Armidale CBD," Cr Tiley said.
"Once NSW hits its vaccination goals of 70 and 80 per cent double doses, expected towards the end of October, the government's roadmap out of lockdowns should allow for the return of outdoor events and increased capacity limits."
The new stage will be covered and suitable for all weather conditions, and include updated power outlets that provide for live music, community events and public forums.
The contemporary structure has a light footprint in keeping with the alfresco feel of the mall according to Armidale Regional Council.
It said structural elements of the sound shell and stage design echo the heritage features of the neighbouring post office and old court house. While still maintaining a uniquely twenty first century appeal rather than imitating nearby heritage listed buildings.
"A new stage was very important to the community when asked during the extensive community consultation that was undertaken in 2017 with the now rejected King and Campbell design," Cr Tiley said.
"Council has listened to the community and incorporated this feedback, including a new stage into The Armidale City Mall Vibrancy Plan 2015-2035. It also demonstrates Council's commitment to keep the central mall free of vehicle traffic."
In 2018 further consultation was undertaken with community members who were instrumental in driving the overwhelming community feedback to reject the King and Campbell design.
A Mall Community Reference Group was convened and advised that a new stage should be an architectural statement, acoustically enhancing, less than 1m in height for access compliance and have an all-weather cover.
"Once we reach our vaccination targets and restrictions ease on outdoor events council will facilitate a regular summer schedule of community events, spearheaded by the return of the popular Twilight Food Markets and our showcase Christmas in the Mall celebrations," Cr Tiley said.
The reconstruction of the stage platform will begin in early October, and be completed by the end of the month, weather permitting.
"The sound shell will be installed later in the year and the entire project hopefully completed in time for Christmas in the Mall celebrations," Cr Tiley said.
"The stage reconstruction is the key component of a project that's already seen the redevelopment of the playgrounds and refurbishment of the bus shelter."
The project has been funded by a $423,100 grant from Round 1 of the Australian Government's Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Fund.
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