http://www.blacktownsun.com.au/story/4647858/bold-ambition/#slide=3A university, a multi-storey CBD business centre and an international centre for sporting excellence: this could be the future of Blacktown.
Mayor Stephen Bali has promised to start work on the three ambitious projects within the next four years, as part of a 20-year plan to transform the face of the city.
Liberal councillor Jess Diaz has criticised the vision though, saying the Labor-dominated council “needs a reality check”.
Cr Bali unveiled the plan as part of the council’s record $610 million budget.
“We want to make Blacktown a modern, inspirational city that residents and businesses are proud of and becomes a magnet for economic growth,” Cr Bali said.
“Blacktown City Council is large enough and has the capability to reshape the city centre, turning it into the commercial and business centre that has been long overdue.”
Blacktown Council would like to see the dingy street replaced with bustling shop fronts close to Blacktown train station.Warrick Lane is barely recognisable in this artist's impression of multi-storey mixed use development.The space would become the centre of the CBD in the council's 20-year plan.Blacktown Council would like to see the dingy street replaced with bustling shop fronts close to Blacktown train station.Warrick Lane is barely recognisable in this artist's impression of multi-storey mixed use development.
Cr Bali said the council is in close discussion with several universities about opening a multi-faculty campus in Blacktown.
The mayor said it was important for the potential university to feature multiple course options, not just traditional profit-generators such as business and engineering.
“A university in Blacktown CBD makes perfect sense. We have a booming population looking for tertiary education opportunities close to where they live,” he said.
“We’ve got great schools and great TAFEs, the only piece missing in the jigsaw puzzle is a university.”
Cr Bali said it was an opportunity for a university to grow with the local government area, which is predicted to be home to 521,000 people by 2036.
The council aims to have a memorandum of understanding with a university before the end of the year.
The other major change to the city centre would be a redevelopment of Warrick Lane, turning the car park and low-rise shopping area near the train station into a multi-storey business and commercial centre.
Cr Bali said the “massive” project would “inspire others to make Blacktown their business headquarters”.
Cr Diaz said that the council is “dreaming” and real progress would not come to Blacktown as the CBD is not attractive to investors.
“This is a typical Labor budget: the expenses not matching the revenue, living beyond the means and a deficit is just around the corner. There is no new money or additional revenue but is heavily reliant on developer-led growth,” he said.
“The gloss shown by the mayor on TV and in other media outlets do [sic] not match with specific funding, other than expenses for consultants to draw plans as has been happening over the years.”
A NEW university in Blacktown could finally be a reality with the local council winning support from major business backers, securing a potential site and even gaining international interest in the proposed facility.