Community input sought for CBD plan

Cobar Shire Council hosted six community consultation sessions last week to obtain input from the community on what they would like to see in Cobar’s CBD Master Plan.

GHD Consultants have been engaged by Council to develop a masterplan and business case for the CBD area.

GHD’s Communication & Stakeholder Engagement Technical Director Michael Ulph headed up the community engagement sessions last week and explained the process.

“Council’s asked us to look at some concepts of the main street and associated CBD area and to do that we really wanted to hear what the community had to say,” Mr Ulph said.

“We wanted to have the community at the centre of the idea generation process, to give them some ownership of it.”

And while there were only a handful of interested people in attendance at most of the sessions, Mr Ulph said they valued quality feedback over quantity.

“We’ve had some really rich and meaningful discussions and captured a lot of information,” he said.

“We’ve met with key stakeholders such as shop owners and business owners from around town and some people that are very passionate about heritage.

“We’ve learned a lot. Everybody is passionate about the town, everybody loves this town, and that’s been very clear to see,” he said.

“We’ve had lots of ideas of what can be done to try and improve and meet some of the objectives.”

Mr Ulph said one of their target groups was school kids which they met through two sessions at the high school as well as with the Cooinda Home School kids who attended a community session to provide their feedback.

“With the school kids in Year 10 and 11, it’s not long before they start inheriting the town, so it’s important for them to take part in it.

“It’s another way to get the information about what’s happening back to parents as well and help raise an interest level there,” Mr Ulph said.

He said the kids provided “some fantastic ideas” including more activities for youth, a food bank, “don’t get rid of the heritage”, a night club, an arcade for teenagers to play games together, more signs, walking tracks, more food options, refurbish the seating, coin operated bike hire, a heavy vehicle bypass, more trees, and to use more colour around the town to make it more inviting to visitors

Along with the “wish lists” provided by the participants, the consultation sessions also identified the challenges and limitations of the CBD area.

Among the challenges listed were: the weather (heat, lack of shade and protection during rain), a lack of amenities and attractions for locals and visitors, sustaining businesses, a quiet main street, the threat of nearby shopping attractors (eg Dubbo) and online shopping options.

Mr Ulph said among the objectives of the plan is to encourage more business, increase pedestrian activity in the CBD, improve the open spaces within the CBD, create more indoor and outdoor dining options, create a CBD Hub/precinct to reinforce connectivity and provide a cohesive plan of building facades to increase the streetscape harmony.

All ideas for the plan are aimed at making Cobar more livable.

Mr Ulph said the GHD staff will now go back and collate all the information they have gathered and heard and come back to Council with various concepts.

Council will then decide which concepts are the most viable and put them on exhibition for community members to provide further feedback.

“It may end up a bit like a shopping list—with aspects that are higher and lower priority, or that are a higher and lower cost, what things they want to tick off and what things they want to seek funding for.

“So it’s still the beginning of the journey and it’s a big task,” Mr Ulph said.



Councillors, council staff and main street business operators with GHD consultants Jane Threlfall, Michael Ulph and Sonya Pascoe at the Cobar CBD Masterplan
stakeholders community consultation last week at the Cobar Youth & Community Centre.