A BOLD plan three years in the making has been unveiled by the Ipswich Show Society for a $40 million exhibition and flood evacuation centre to be built at the Ipswich Showgrounds.
The proposed facility, integrated with other showground infrastructure, would cater for 4000 people in an emergency situation, seat over 600 people in a main auditorium and be a beacon for expos and home shows.
The plan was unveiled to the QT by Ipswich Show Society vice-president Darren Zanow and Blair MP Shayne Neumann who have highlighted the economic, social and emergency management benefits of the project.
Funding will be sought from federal, state and council coffers with the Ipswich Show Society also making a major contribution.
The project involves transforming the current cattle pavilion into a four-storey exhibition and flood evacuation centre.
The bottom two levels will be for car parking with the exhibition centre’s main hall on the third level. The mezzanine level is set to contain offices and storage.
The Show Society also plans to have an additional two-storey car park within the grounds to cater all-up for 1000 car spaces.
Mr Zanow said the total spend, including upgrades of other showground buildings and facilities, would be around the $58 million mark.
The grandstand complex, the cricket pavilion and the exhibits pavilion are all part of upgrade plans and Mr Zanow said funds would be sought from a variety of sources, with his organisation also contributing.
“Since the 2011 flood we have been looking at providing a better facility to look after the people of Ipswich in times of emergency disaster,” Mr Zanow said.
“We have come up with the concept of an evacuation centre/exhibition centre facility and we’ll integrate that with the existing facilities on the showgrounds and renovate those facilities.
“That will allow us to have home shows, boat shows, expos of all descriptions and bring tourism and business to the region.
“The largest clear span facility in Ipswich now is at the showgrounds and it is not big enough or practical enough to bring the big players in the game.
“We do need an upgrade, and this is all part of a long-term plan to upgrade the facility so that it is to a really high standard.”
The Show Society is nearly at the end of the business plan stage of the project and has come up with detailed designs in league with consultants to make the plan as workable as possible.
“Then we will go into the next stage which will be to get it shovel ready and get the development approval from council…in particular for the underground car park and convention and flood evacuation centre,” Mr Zanow said.
The Show Society will also be seeking funding support for the $500,000 needed to get the project shovel ready.
Mr Zanow said fruitful discussions with Mayor Paul Pisasale and Cr Andrew Antoniolli had been held and both provided letters of support. He said Mr Neumann and both state and federal governments were “on board as well”.
Mr Neumann said a facility much larger than the Ipswich Civic Centre was required for conventions, performances and exhibitions and that the proposed facility at the showgrounds would bring jobs and millions of dollars into Ipswich.
Mr Neumann said there were an urgent need for the facility and that it would bring many benefits.
“Ipswich has had three major floods since 1974 and this will enhance the capacity for flood evacuation and recovery,” he said.
“It will expand the premier showgrounds in our region and this can act as a convention centre for us until we get an Ipswich Performing Arts Centre.
“This will be bigger than the capacity of the civic centre and be able to seat easily 600.
“It is affordable, achievable and will be accessible to the public of Ipswich because it will be in the heart of Ipswich.
“All up it will cost around about $40 million and the show society is going to put money towards it. I will support them in future federal government funding they will seek.
“I would also be looking for Ipswich City Council and the State Government to put money towards it.”
Cr Antoniolli, the divisional councillor, told the QT he was backing the project.
“When we did have the 2011 flood it showed the shortcomings of the showgrounds, although it was the best that we had,” Cr Antoniolli said.
“This project has the benefit of being able to function as an evacuation centre at a high level.
“The Show Society is obviously looking to the future to have an expo space and some of their infrastructure is getting dated.
“It ticks all the boxes from a community perspective.”
Originally Published: http://www.qt.com.au
Rail line grows three times faster than state average
THE number of passengers travelling on Springfield’s rail line has grown almost three times faster than the state network average.
In a glimmer of good news for Ipswich’s public transport situation, new data shows 1.09 million passengers travelled on the Richlands Springfield Central line in the 2017-18 financial year.
Springfield Central was the most popular station, with 482,913 passengers.
Rail Back on Track spokesman Robert Dow said the figures were good news for Ipswich’s busy eastern corridor.
“It’s good people are using the system and it adds momentum for improvements to the bus network to get people to and from the station,” he said.
Since the 2016-17 financial year, patronage across the state’s rail network has grown 3.36 per cent.
Growth at Springfield Central has outstripped the average by recording an 8.13 per cent increase.
“Springfield looks good,” Mr Dow said.
While passenger numbers are positive at Springfield, other rail lines remain underutilised, Mr Dow said.
“It’s been pretty bad on the Ipswich-Rosewood line,” he said.
In the previous financial year, 1.77 million passengers used the line.
It was the first time in five years the network has recorded an increase in growth after a steady decline in numbers from a height of 2.1 million in 2012-13.
Mr Dow puts the most recent increase partly down to a new fare structure and regional growth.
“The population is increasing generally and people at Redbank Plains and places like that are driving to the Ipswich rail line,” he said.
Mr Dow said improvements still needed to be made on the region’s bus network.
He said park ‘n’ ride facilities at stops along the network were at capacity. Ipswich Station had the highest passenger fall, with 23,389 people deserting the track.
Redbank was the most improved station, with passenger numbers growing about 19,000 on the previous year, to 229,145.
“It’s good to see Rosewood has got growth – people are starting to use the Ipswich to Rosewood line,” Mr Dow said.
He said the passenger number information should be made free on the Translink website.
“TMR should make this sort of data available,” he said. “Having to pay $48 for this is fairly outrageous.”
Queensland’s $46 Billion Infrastructure Boom
The Palaszczuk Government has released an update to its 2018 State Infrastructure Plan as it aims to roll-out a total of $45.8 billion worth of infrastructure over the next four years.
The second part of its State Infrastructure Plan (SIP) focuses on a range of infrastructure spending with its updated release, outlining the $11.6 billion of infrastructure investment to be rolled out in 2018-19, which aims to support up to 38,000 jobs.
Economic forecaster Deloitte Access Economics said that the outlook for engineering construction in Queensland is better than it has been for some time.
“Rather than wallowing in cash from a strong property market and asset privatisations as NSW and Victoria are, the Government is relying more heavily on raising new tax revenue and increasing debt to fund this infrastructure,” Deloitte’s quarterly Business Outlook report said.
Up to 65 per cent of the Queensland’s infrastructure budget is allocated outside of the greater Brisbane area, explained Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick.
“Programs like the Queensland Transport Roads and Investment Program 2018-19 to 2021-22 outlines $21.7 billion in transport and road infrastructure over the next four years, estimated to support an average of 19,200 direct jobs over the life of the program.
The $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project, the biggest state funded infrastructure commitment in more than a decade, will be delivered in partnership with the private sector, explains Dick.
Infrastructure Association of Queensland chief executive Steve Abson said the infrastructure investment strategies update provides the private sector with confidence to invest in their Queensland operations.
With it now required to be “actioned collaboratively by all levels of government and the private sector”.
Seven new projects have been added to the Building Queensland (BQ) infrastructure pipeline, including upgrades to the centenary motorway and Sunshine Motorway, and a third track to be added to the Gold Coast rail line between Kuraby and Beenleigh.
BQ Infrastructure Pipeline Report which presents priority infrastructure proposals under development by the Queensland government, shows 18 proposals from the pipeline has received funding commitments from state government since June 2016.
These include upgrades to the M1 from Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill, and Varsity Lakes to Tugan, the Beerburrum to Nambour Rail Upgrade, the Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project and the New Performing Arts Venue.
A rise in interstate migration is seeing more people moving to Queensland, according to the Deloitte’s Business Outlook report, which says the sunshine state now has the third-fastest rate of population growth behind Victoria and the ACT.
The report said that Queensland is “well and truly” through the worst of its mining construction downturn as eye-watering house prices south of the border are sending more “economic refugees north to Queensland”.
Five Ipswich public high schools to get new classrooms
The State Government will commit $250 million over two years in the State Budget to build additional classrooms at more than 60 schools including Bremer, Ipswich State High School, Laidley State High School, Lowood State High School and Springfield.
Deputy Premier and Treasurer, Jackie Trad, said the ‘2020 Ready’ funding boost would support students in more than 60 Queensland high schools across the State.
“Our kids are our future and, as a government, one of the most important things we can do is give Queensland students a world-class education,” Ms Trad said.
“This investment will deliver more classrooms and learning centres to provide the best possible environment for learning.
“Queensland is a fast-growing State and this investment is about planning for the future.”
Education Minister Grace Grace said in 2020, for the very first time in Queensland’s history, high schools would have a full complement of students across Years 7 to 12.
“This infrastructure program is about making sure we are ‘2020 Ready’,” Ms Grace said.
“This $250 million investment will ensure our schools can accommodate the additional 17,000 students expected in our high schools from 2020 and into the future.
“It brings the total funding commitment towards increasing the capacity of state secondary schools to more than $470 million between 2017-18 and 2019-20.”
Ms Grace said the ‘2020 Ready’ program signals the next phase of Queensland’s major education reforms, which started more than a decade ago.
“Queensland’s first intake of Preppies were those whose birthdays were in the first half of the calendar year – so theirs has always been a much smaller cohort of students, known as the ‘half cohort’,” she said.
“Our next educational reform came in 2015, when we moved Year 7 into high school and established six years of secondary education, which was also supported with significant infrastructure investment.
“However, our smaller ‘half cohort’ has been in high school since 2015 too – meaning we have never had the full complement of students across all six year levels in our secondary schools.
“With the original Prep students set to graduate from high school at the end of 2019, we will have – for the very first time – six full year levels of students in Queensland secondary schools from 2020.
“This new $250 million investment for additional classrooms will prepare those schools identified as requiring additional capacity for the additional students expected in 2020.”