The Lismore City Council has rejected a $90 million proposal to expand the Lismore Square Shopping Square in a move described by Page MP Kevin Hogan as ‘woeful’.
But already it’s understood that Cr Gianpiero Battista is preparing a recisission motion, meaning that the issue will come back before the council at the next meeting.
Mr Hogan said the ‘massive investment’ would have been beneficial for the city as it recovers from the March flood.
‘We are still recovering and rebuilding from the flood and we had an investor who wanted to put $90 million in our city which would have created many jobs,’ Mr Hogan said.
‘If we want to maintain our status of a regional capital we need to have investments like this one. This would have attracted more shoppers to our town and the CBD.
‘This is not, an either or, we need a healthy CBD and shopping centre.
‘Many leave our region, and indeed drive through it to the Gold Coast for the shopping centre experience.
‘The $90 million expansion was going to better link the CBD to the Square.
‘This is going to cost us jobs and hold back Lismore.’
A majority of Lismore councillors didn’t see it that way, with Crs Gianpiero Battista, Neil Marks, Darlene Cook, Bill Moorhouse and Isaac Smith voting for the motion, while Crs Nancy Casson, Adam Guise, Vanessa Ekins, Eddie Lloyd, Greg Bennett and Elly Bird voted against.
The major concerns raised were the loss of parklands as the proposal would require about 4 hectares of parkland earmarked for the Lismore Park proposal. Also, an expanded Shopping Square would place further pressure on the CBD, which is struggling to recover from the flood.
McGonaghy’s managing director, Gary McConaghy told the council that engineering issues meant it would not be feasible to expand the shopping centre upwards.
Leading the charge agains the proposal, Cr Eddie Lloyd said it would be ‘heartless’ to expand the square at the expense of the CBD.
Cr Lloyd said the community had put its trust in the council to move forward with the Imagine Lismore vision and regional parkland masterplan.
‘To abandon these plans and to instead do a deal with a private company to handover community land would be an unforgivable betrayal of that trust,’ she said.
Mayor Isaac Smith was disappointed in losing the vote to explore the option, saying Lismore had lost the opportunity to consult with the community over the proposal.
In other matters considered last night, the council voted to replace the opening prayer with a new reflective statement and a moments silence.
The council also voted unanimously to explore options to keep the Lismore Lake topped up, possibly with water from the South Lismore Treatment Plant, and to look at an MOU with a local Landcare group.
As well, the Speedway will be required to close 30 minutes earlier, with the flexibility to go longer in extraordinary circumstances.