i've changed my mind
good for QSuper members
THE price tag of the new Toowoomba Library is expected to top $12 million.
The sale of the current library fetched $8 million for the Toowoomba Regional Council from property developer, QIC Global Real Estate.
It is expected the money from the sale will contribute to the construction of the new library.
The remaining funds must be sourced from council which is in the process of application for up to $2.5 million from the Federal Government's Royalties for the Regions program.
In order to qualify for the funding, the new library had to be "shovel ready" for construction by July/August 2013.
Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio said the impending sale of the land at Alford Place which houses the current library had forced council to look with some urgency at city library relocation options within the broader regional library facilities strategy.
He said one site was of "particular interest" for the project.
"It was generally recognised that the current city library is not able to adequately service the needs of the community," he said.
"The civic square in the vicinity of City Hall is the preferred location for the new Toowoomba Library in keeping with the City Centre Master Plan."
Library and Cultural Services portfolio leader Cr Ros Scotney said council agreed the overall design of the new city library should be flexible enough to allow for the potential integration of additional office and civic spaces in accordance with the council's future accommodation strategies.
"Council also agreed that at its next budget review and discussion of the capital works budget, it would consider allocating funds to commence design of the new library in line with future accommodation strategies," she said.
"Along with options to establish a library resource management centre, we will be considering temporary accommodation options should this be necessary during a transition phase to a new library."
Read moreUPDATE: Ideas on how the vacant Toowoomba Foundry site could be rejuvenated have flowed as receivers repay its massive rates bill to Toowoomba Regional Council.
Partner at accounting firm BDO Australia David Whyte said the $655,000 balance of the site's rates arrears had been paid yesterday on behalf of the mortgagee, Equititrust Income Fund.
Mr Whyte said it came after $300,000 of the arrears had been paid about six weeks ago.
He said Ray White had been appointed by liquidators to undertake a sale campaign of the property.
Meanwhile, community leaders and Chronicle readers have suggested possible uses including a market place, a car park, a welfare centre and CBD residences for the Ruthven St site.
Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Andrew Wielandt said the area of the CBD would benefit from moving away from its industrial roots.
He said restaurants and coffee shops to compliment new CBD apartments would suit the area.
"Not everybody wants to live on the 600sqm in the suburbs," Mr Wielandt said.
"Inner city living is starting to catch on in Toowoomba."
Member of CBD retail group City Heart, Robin Grundon, said the building could house a giant indoor market.
"We could invite clearance houses to come in and casually lease space," Mr Grundon said.
"It would turn it into a really active and vibrant place."
Wagners' airport plan faces Defence obstacle
http://www.thechronicle.com.au/news/wagners-airport-defence-toowoomba/1589329/THE Department of Defence has become the only major obstacle to Toowoomba finally getting the jet-capable airport it badly needs.
The Wagners-funded project at Wellcamp Downs has been widely supported as a means to drive the city towards its future as a vital regional transport centre.
Issues have surfaced over shared air space with the Oakey Army Base and the RAAF Base in Amberley, but Wagners Global Services chairman John Wagner says the three operations can coexist.
"While council has been very supportive of the application, the same can't be said for the Department of Defence," he said.
"They have been less than helpful... (but) this project is absolutely vital for our region."
Member for Groom Ian Macfarlane said the issue was in the hands of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and subsequently Airservices Australia.
Wagners must apply to CASA for use of the airspace in a process completely separate to its council development application.
He said once that application was accepted, it would need to be approved by Airservices.
"This issue is far more complicated than was perhaps first suggested," he said.
"In terms of international flights coming into Wagners, they cut across air space being used by Amberley Base and all the Defence Force aircraft working there.
"It has got to be safe."
Mr Macfarlane was convinced the Wagners project would not pose a threat to nearby airports.
"It's going to be an enormous boost to the community," he said.
"I'm still confident we'll get it to happen, but it may be a process that takes some time.
"If the whole air operations map has to be rewritten for this area, it's not going to happen overnight."
Mr Wagner felt secure the project would not be compromised.
"We're just keen to get work under way," he said.
"It's going to be a substantial job creator and we're very keen to make it happen."
The Department of Defence was not available for comment despite continued requests.
I posted this back in march and 8 months later the site has barely changed. A complaint from the neighbouring school meant work stopped while another DA had to be submitted.
BREAKING: TOOWOOMBA developer John Wagner has been given the all-clear to start construction on Wellcamp Airport early next year.
Mr Wagner was seated in the front row of the City Hall public gallery yesterday as his plan came under the scrutiny of council's development assessment panel.
He declined to address the meeting, opting rather to hang back and wait for the decision he always expected.
Wagners work crews are on standby to start building in March, 2013.
"I think it's a fantastic decision for this region," Mr Wagner said.
"I stand by my view that this is a game-changer for Toowoomba and the entire region."
While councillors were unanimous in their approval of the airport, they were concerned that minimal community consultation was required due to its code-assessable status.
"I'm disappointed that a project of this magnitude is code-assessable, taking away the local community's right to be part of the process," Cr Mike Williams said.
Under Toowoomba's current planning scheme the undertaking would be impact-assessable, requiring an enormous amount of discussion with ratepayers and stakeholders who might be affected by its approval.
However, developers were given a two-year window after amalgamation in which they could still apply under former planning schemes - in this case, that of Jondaryan Shire Council.
Mr Wagner's entirely-legal manoeuvring made the project's approval much simpler than it would otherwise have been.
"They made that window by about two days," Cr Chris Tait said.
"However, my overall perspective of the project as a whole is that it's excellent for the community."
While construction has been approved, Mr Wagner must now run the gauntlet with the Department of Defence.
Councillors have seen the masses of objections from Defence, mostly regarding shared military airspace with Oakey Army Training and Aviation Centre and the RAAF base at Amberley.
Those issues were unrelated to yesterday's land-use approval but require resolution with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority if Mr Wagner's plan to fly more than 500,000 passengers annually within 20 years is to be realised.
I'd hope to see the airport and it's flightpaths act to discourage too much sprawl in that direction. Geographically, this would somewhat landlock Toowoomba, making an increase in density more likely.also, i reckon betweeen drayton, westbrook and wyreema will bit all quite developed in 10 years time if this goes ahead.
RADIO presenter Alan Jones has called for a Royal Commission into the events leading to the approval of Wellcamp Airport and the heavy-industry precinct that surrounds it.
Mr Jones launched a 20-minute on-air tirade about political intrigue, loss of prime agricultural land and lack of due process going back to the 1990s.
The 2GB shock jock alluded to back-room deals he believed were made between former Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor Peter Taylor and Wagners co-founder Denis Wagner, who both served on Jondaryan Shire Council prior to amalgamation.
"Suddenly people find out the zoning has been changed to (allow) heavy and extractive industries for the entire site of Wellcamp Downs." Mr Jones said.
"(Then) the Bligh government stuck a buffer zone around the area.
"This is Royal Commission stuff.
"The lifestyle and land values of all the families and properties... have been dumped into the buffer zone in order to protect and maximise the Wagner family investment."
He also took a call from Wellcamp Downs thoroughbred horse breeder Heather Pascoe Brown - a close friend - whose property falls within the buffer zone that now surrounds the industrial site.
She talked about the "legal loophole" that allowed the application for Wellcamp Airport to be code-assessable, rather than impact-assessable, meaning no community consultation was needed before its approval.
"Those jets will have a flight path that comes in over the town of Oakey, they'll come down the Wellcamp Valley and land and they'll take off and fly over the town of Westbrook," she said.
"So there are thousands of people who will be under the flight path.
"They don't know and all their properties will be devalued and they have no recompense whatsoever because of how it's been applied."