Coolum esplanade. Photo Mike Garry/scw514b
Coolum esplanade. Photo Mike Garry/scw514b

Esplanade requires creativity

Issues to do with the Coolum Esplanade streetscape are uppermost in my mind at the moment.

There are three issues colliding with one another that require consideration and action.

First, the Watpac development site from Beach Road to the chemist shop next to Park Road will continue trading until February.

This means that a number of shops are likely to remain vacant and the street presentation looks sad and neglected. This is not good for the community, visitors or business.

It requires a strategy to ensure life and energy and interest, and most importantly, customers, remain on the street. This strategy could include buskers, market stalls, community activities on the footpath or seeking Watpac approval to use the vacant shops for some of these purposes.

I would welcome your ideas and suggestions, and I am sure there are many creative people who could bring that real Coolum feel to this space.

Second, demolition and construction will then occur on this site from February through until December 2009, which is when Watpac plan to open the new development in time for the Christmas holidays.

Having construction barriers across the site again sends the wrong message to visitors and investors, and should be handled with sensitivity.

The development approval (by the former Maroochy Council) requires Watpac to plan and construct landscaping for this critical part of the Coolum esplanade streetscape.

It is essential that this streetscape genuinely reflects the low-key, relaxed, coastal and, above all, green feel of Coolum.

I do not believe that redevelopment of the esplanade to the north has achieved this and we must do better on this site.

I have requested Watpac to ensure that I am integrally involved in the design for this site and have already had preliminary meetings with them on this matter. I will also seek to have the community involved as well.

Third, there is a need for an upgrade of the Coolum Beach streetscape presentation, from Beach Road to Birtwill Street. This must incorporate pedestrian friendliness and much more landscaping with mature trees.

Consultation occurred with respect to the Coolum Integrated Land Use and Transport Plan back in 2005. However, I am not convinced that some of the proposals which were included in that plan actually were supported by the community.

I have some funds in this year’s budget to commence detailed design and planning for the overall streetscape. The timing with respect to the Watpac development makes it imperative that all these three issues are brought together to ensure a great outcome for the Coolum community.

To this end, I convened a meeting last week of representatives from Coolum Commerce, the Coolum Residents Association and Coolum Coastcare for initial discussions on how to respond to these three emerging issues.

Of particular urgency is enlivening the streetscape between now and February. I am delighted to report that there was a terrific turn-up, and a number of people have volunteered to be involved in the ongoing process and planning, which will also involve the broader community.

We will be meeting again next Tuesday and I am very confident that the talent and creativity of the Coolum community can be focussed on getting a great outcome “on the street”.

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