THE New Norfolk town centre master plan will be the subject of a special council meeting this week after a lack of councillors prevented a decision being made about it at the monthly meeting in December. With two councillors absent from the meeting and another two stepping out after declaring conflicts of interest, mayor Ben Shaw had no choice but to let the matter lay on the table.
A council officer had recommended that the New Norfolk Draft Concept Urban Design Plans for the Town Centre and Precinct Connections be adopted, with a specific recommendation that the proposed statue of football great Peter Hudson be located in Arthur Square.
But the meeting was left without a quorum when councillors Natasha Woods and Paul Belcher left the room after declaring conflicts of interest, and councillors Martyn Evans and Jessica Cosgrove were absent. After a discussion about what constituted a quorum, Cr Shaw told the meeting there were insufficient numbers and the matter could not be dealt with at that time.
The same report will be presented to a special meeting on Wednesday night. The public remains excluded from this meeting under the council’s coronavirus precautions.
Developed by consultants Inspiring Place, the 82-page master plan is intended to guide future improvements to High St, and connections to other parts of the town including Willow Court, Tynwald Park, the Esplanade and the sports precinct on the northern side of the river. Its most controversial recommendation was that a proposed statue of Peter Hudson be placed on Arthur Square at the corner of High and Stephen streets.
The consultants acknowledged that placing the statue at Arthur Square was the only aspect of the plan that did not attract majority support. They did not back away from this recommendation, but suggested that the statue form part of a future “Local Heroes/Achievers/Champions interpretative walk.”
Among the many other recommendations published for community consultation, the plan proposed the removal of an unspecified number of parking spaces in High St and the planting of trees at pedestrian crossing points, and in the middle of the street; removal of some parking spaces in Hackett St for a wider footpath, seating and trees; upgrading the walkway to Laskeys Car Park and reconfiguring that car park, relocating its bus shelter and building public toilets
The plan also recommended removal of the council chambers car park and planting trees; converting Circle St angle parking to right-angle; and traffic calming and pedestrian crossings across Richmond St. In Burnett St it recommended the removal of some parking spaces; widening the foothpath on the eastern side; and viewing and interpreting the underground convict-built infrastructure. Also proposed were traffic lights at the intersection of Burnett and George streets, and the construction of car parks on the Frescati House lawn and on the bank outside Willow Court perimeter wall.
The plans for Arthur Square included widening the diagonal footpath, adding a new footpath from the toilets to the rotunda, and constructing a footpath around the perimeter of the square; rebuilding the toilet block; removing the fountain and central hedges and replacing with plaza and water play feature; building a second small rotunda; widening the kerbs on Pioneer Ave side; removing the pioneers wall to the Esplanade; consolidating the flower beds and removing perimeter plantings.
In response to the feedback received, the consultants recommended the following actions to be included in the final version of the plan:
- The Peter Hudson statue be located within Arthur Square as part of a future Local Heroes/Achievers/Champions interpretative walk and the concept plans be revised to show this outcome;
- The number and location of the designated disabled parking spots be reviewed before the plans are finalised;
- Review the location of the path and ornamental beds within Arthur Square to allow for the two memorial garden beds
- Revise the concept plans to show a preference for the toilets to be designed to cater for separate male and female toilets with provision for a unisex wheelchair access toilet and inclusion for a baby change room;
- Revise the draft concept plans to indicate the intention to upgrade pedestrian lighting on High Street and indicate the desire for lighting along The Avenue (for both vehicle and pedestrian use in the future);
- Review car parking spaces along High Street and particularly on the raised pavement near the Post Office.