A monthly column written by Ipswich City Council interim administrator Greg Chemello.
The new year is well and truly underway at Ipswich City Council.
While many council officers enjoyed a well-earned break over Christmas, they’re back on deck and focused on serving your community in 2019.
High on the ‘to do list’ is the reinvigoration of Ipswich Central, which includes Riverlink, Top of Town, the CBD redevelopment, and council and hospital precincts.
This exciting process makes way for a new council administration centre, public library, spacious civic and outdoor event spaces as well as the return of Nicholas Street (currently the mall) to a one-way street for low-speed traffic. Pretty much not a day goes by where I’m not asked about what’s to come.
You’ll definitely see a lot of progress in the precinct this year. By the end of 2019, the one-way street will be finished, as will hopefully the public plaza. We’re very much looking forward to having the new retail frontages completed with businesses in place once again! Council’s administration building, which will house some 700 staff, will also be partially finished.
But I think the most exciting news is that we’re working with West Moreton Health on a program to bring hundreds of additional healthcare workers and visitors into the Ipswich Central precinct.
We will have a population of half a million people in about 30 years’ time, so we cannot risk losing the hospital to an outer location because of a lack of room for expansion. It’s imperative we plan for this now be ensuring the hospital has room to grow, which is why we have agreed to sell our existing buildings to West Moreton Health.
Hospital staff from both Ipswich Hospital and the recently expanded St Andrew’s Hospital as well as allied health staff and visitors will be spending money at cafes and shops in the local area, ensuring a vibrant and sustainable future for the city’s CBD.
Health is one of our planned ‘anchor’ economic sectors for Ipswich Central. Most CBDs have at least one anchor industry; usually it is major retailers, corporate offices (including head offices), or government departments. Occasionally, CBDs are anchored by education or health facilities. CBDs that lack at least one of these anchor sectors are just not sustainable.
Healthcare is already the largest employment sector in the Ipswich local government area by far; one in seven jobs across the local government area are in this sector; more than in the construction, retail and manufacturing sectors. Already, in the Ipswich Central precinct, one in four jobs is in healthcare.
It is not about solely focusing on health, but securing this sector as an essential ‘anchor’ and allowing council and business community to pursue the other anchors of education, government and corporate offices and even some multi-unit residential developments as well.
Under the direction of your council’s new CEO, David Farmer (who starts February 4), we will also address the issues of traffic, transport and car parking to ensure an accessible and sustainable approach to the redevelopment.
As they say, watch this space.