Major CBD sites to be redeveloped under Council plan
Published on 06 June 2020
Two prominent, high profile sites in Launceston's CBD will be redeveloped under proposals being announced today by the City of Launceston.
The Council has purchased a share of the Paterson Street Central car park, as well as the former Birchalls building, to build a new bus interchange and undercover arcade linking through to the Brisbane Street Mall.
The Council will partner with the State Government to develop the bus interchange, which will include dedicated bus stops, as well as an undercover waiting area.
This will allow the relocation of bus stops currently located in St John Street, and pave the way for the future redevelopment of the street as part of the Launceston City Heart Project.
The Council's purchase of the vacant Birchalls building will facilitate the private development of a ground-level arcade and serve as a public thoroughfare linking the Brisbane Street Mall to the proposed bus interchange.
The purchase of the Paterson Street Central car park will also enable the private development on the remainder of the site - a proposed $80 million creative industries precinct funded by the New Creative Group.
The Group's proposal will encompass world-class education in design and technology, a virtual and augmented reality enterprise, commercial offices, modern food and retail offerings, as well as student accommodation.
In 2017, the proposed redevelopment of St John Street was put on hold to enable a solution for the location of bus stops within the Launceston CBD to be identified.
That same year, the Council commissioned a study into alternate locations for the St John Street bus stops, with the Paterson Street Central car park identified as the preferred site.
City of Launceston Mayor Albert van Zetten said the proposed precinct will significantly increase vibrancy, grow visitation and expand economic activity around the CBD as well as increase public transport use across the city.
Mayor van Zetten said that in Christchurch, New Zealand, a new and modern bus interchange helped grow bus patronage from 2 per cent to its current level of around 6 per cent over five years.
"This is an exciting proposal for Launceston," Mayor van Zetten said.
"It will create significant economic activity, as well as new employment, social, cultural, and education opportunities for our region.
"This project provides a rare opportunity to construct a purpose-built public transport facility in our CBD, which is going to be great for bus passengers, as well as businesses who have been concerned about heavy public transport vehicles in St John Street," Mayor van Zetten said.
He said the Council had developed a business case to assess the future of the Birchalls building, which had determined the site was unlikely to be redeveloped without public intervention.
"We saw a similar situation with the C.H. Smith building in Charles Street, and the redevelopment of that site has a great success, particularly given its derelict status for so many decades," he said.
"We now have a model for that kind of project, partnering with other stakeholders to redevelop sites that may otherwise face significant hurdles, and we see a significant opportunity for us to apply a similar model to the Birchalls site.
"There are a number of potential uses for this site above the ground floor including a restaurant, commercial office space - of which there is a known shortage in Launceston - or it could be used for student accommodation or inner city residential.
"Of course, it is intended to retain and make a feature of the buildings significant heritage façade and the Council intends to on-sell this building once it has been redeveloped." Mayor van Zetten said the Council had provisions in place to cover the loss of the 125 parking spaces in the Paterson Street Central car park, which are currently operated by CarePark. "The existing car park will remain in operation for at least 12 months until construction begins on the site," he said.
"We also have unused capacity in our two multi-storey car parks in Paterson Street, as well as the C.H. Smith car park, as well as plans to augment our existing car parking structures if there is a need." Mayor van Zetten said that the Council is also developing a multi-faceted CBD movement and connectivity solution, which will focus on:
• Improving the bus network, leveraging the new Launceston Bus Interchange
• Improving walking and cycling facilities
• Providing more pick-up and drop-off zones, making kerbside use more efficient
• Replacing and redistributing short-term parking facilities and optimising the use of existing car parks in the CBD
• Preserving parking for vulnerable users, including the aged and disabled, and
• Improving the park-and-ride facilities, including the popular Tiger Bus service Mayor van Zetten said the Council's share of the Paterson Street Central car park site was $6 million, which was sourced from an existing interest-free loan facility provided by the State Government.
The Council purchased the Birchalls building for $8.4 million - based on a market valuation. Mayor van Zetten said the Birchalls redevelopment was at the concept stage and final designs had not been completed. "It will take six to eight months for that body of work to be undertaken, and in the case of the Birchalls building will involve public engagement," he said. "The sites have been purchased and the funding secured - so it's all very exciting.
"The Council also wants to acknowledge the Coordinator-General's office, who has been working meticulously to bring this project to fruition for almost four years.
"Without his assistance and guidance, none of this would have been possible."
Please note: the image supplied is an artist impression only and does not represent the final design.