7 June, 2023
Priors Creek vision moves a step closer
A VISION to transform the Priors Creek area in Atherton to an impressive recreational precinct is a step closer, with Tablelands Regional Council endorsing the preliminary design and signalling its intention to call for expressions of interest for public art pieces next month.
The preliminary design includes a clear definition of all design elements including confirmation of all materials and design elements proposed.
Mayor Rod Marti couldn't be happier the project has reached another milestone, saying he expected construction to start in the precinct later this year.
“I’m really proud of the progress we’re mak-ing on this project and look forward to seeing the development take shape over the coming months and years,” he said.
“This stage of the process refines and defines the design elements and means we can now move onto the next step of working and con-struction drawings.
“We have committed $8.5 million (over four years) to deliver Stage one (between Vernon and Jack Streets) and are seeking funding from State and Federal Governments for additional stages.
“Construction will commence later this year and it won’t be long before Atherton and the broader Tablelands community will be seeing the benefits of the urban plaza, 1000-person amphitheatre, nature-based playground and shared paths.
“We’ll also be seeking expressions of interest for the public art and freehold lots in the coming weeks,” Mayor Marti said.
But while all councillors have supported the concept of the project, some are clearly worried about what it will cost and where the funds will come from.
Describing the project as “extremely exciting”, Cr Bernie Wilce noted there were “quite a few logistical matters” council had to work through but he was confident the end result would be of great benefit to the community.
“We're trying to encourage new families, new subdivisions, new workforce, and there are other developments in the mix in the area as well,” he said.
“The economic analysis shows what the project is likely to bring to the area and it was $1.33 returned to the community for every dollar spent – not back to us but to the community.”
Cr Peter Hodge also supported the project but noted that funding needed to be secured.
“At least we have the plan in place – whether it takes two years, five years or 10 years – fine, we just have to find the funds from to make it happen,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Cr Kevin Cardew echoed his sentiments.
“I think it is a worthwhile project but we do have to look at how we're going to fund it – those decisions are going to come down the track,” he said.
“But in the first instance we have to have a design in place so we can move forward. Like I have said previously, if it takes two, five or 10 years, then so be it.
“The next council and maybe the council af-ter that have something to work with.”
Cr David Clifton also endorsed the project but had the same reservations about how it would be funded.
“I have made the point before that we need to make sure that there is a considerable amount of private or commercial funds in it and I know we have taken a deputation to the State Government.”
Mayor Marti said he understood funding was a “big hurdle” but was determined to get financial support from both higher levels of government.
“We know this project can't be built without the support of the State and, I would think, the Federal Government – we have started that advocacy some months back.
“We have been engaging with the State Government, with various state members and ministers about the significance of this project, about the importance that Atherton as the commercial hub of the Tablelands moves into the 21st century in terms of its CBD and the amenity it should provide to the community, for all members of the community.
“We need to build the infrastructure that people in the 21st century expect when they come to a new area.
“It will be a great thing, and we will keep working as hard as we can and get in the face of our State and Federal members to make sure that we get the financial support that we need to get it built.
“It will be a transformational project for Atherton and also for the Tablelands in the broader context.”
As part of the Priors Creek development budget, $250,000 has been set aside as a contribution toward public art in seven locations throughout the precinct.
A report to council advised that additional external funding was also being sought so the final confirmed budget was not yet known.
Council wants the chosen public art pieces to create a sense of place and unique identity for Atherton and the broader TRC region and to activate the spaces in Priors Creek with opportunities for recreation and education.
It also wants public art to become a tourist attraction in its own right and the “wow factor” to encourage people to visit Atherton and stay longer.