By District Bulletin Council Watch.
IT LOOKS LIKE it’s back to the drawing board for Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) on a new administration building. But that’s not all bad news.
QPRC’s efforts to entice the NSW Police to move from their current Queanbeyan station into the proposed six-storey, $57 million council headquarters were resoundingly rejected when NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller appeared before Budget Estimates earlier this month.
Under questioning from Labor MLC Courtney Houssos, Commissioner Fuller reiterated his position that the new Queanbeyan police station should be built on the existing site.
While there were some minor complications with the site, “… it is the right place to have a police station and I am pushing on with it,” he told the hearing at Parliament House in Sydney on 9 November.
“… we have learnt that when we build new police stations in justice precincts, if there is a courthouse we need to be next to the courthouse, otherwise it impacts on local police, it impacts on transportation and a whole range of things.”
Location of police cells key reason
The District Bulletin understands that the courthouse has no cells, which is one reason proximity to the station with cells is critical, particularly as Queanbeyan hosts trials of serious offences, including murder.
There had been no further official word from the Member for Monaro, John Barilaro. But Labor candidate for Monaro, Bryce Wilson said: “Two years, eight months since a promise of a new police station and construction is yet to begin. [Member for Monaro] Mr Barilaro must guarantee this will be delivered before the next election. As I have said before, let’s build what our police want, where they want and let’s get on with it.”
Councillor Peter Marshall said: “The situation that council now finds itself in vindicates the position that I, Cr Winchester and Cr Harrison took at the September meeting, that we simply had not been provided with enough information at the time to make a decision on whether to proceed with the proposal as it stood.”
A possible response to the loss of the proposed tenant is to reduce the height of the building to four storeys. But since the rent from the police occupancy was designed to help offset the building construction costs, council still faces a financial question.
Council wants underground parking option
The council’s desire for underground car parking seems to be a major consideration. One of the reasons the council rejected rebuilding on the site of the old administration offices is because a stormwater drain rules out underground parking there.
This raises the question of how much (expensive) underground parking is needed in the central city area when there is scope to encourage long-stay car parking in the existing Collett St car park, which is under-used. Council is developing a car parking strategy for the CBD and there is hope for an integrated transport strategy.