Town centre plan

THE announcement of potential large-scale development on a vacant block in Mt Barker’s town centre will be welcomed by the community.
It is not the first time plans have been unveiled for the site with a proposal to build a Big W failing to eventuate and the land instead remaining as a vacant eyesore.
However, things have changed in recent years with the 12,000sqm site now jointly owned by the Mt Barker Council and housing developer Burke Urban.
A town square, hotel, residential units and more than 4000sqm of office space are part of the new plans, which may also include council office space and library facilities. The square would provide a social focal point for the community while office spaces and a hotel – both of which are severely lacking in the Hills – would bring economic benefits.
As Mt Barker grows, it’s vital to attract jobs that will both limit traffic travelling to Adelaide and create employment to stimulate the local economy.
New office accommodation may attract government departments and Adelaide-based businesses could be encouraged to relocate to take advantage of cheaper rent in state-of-the-art facilities.
The value of an office worker to the local economy is substantial and the council should pursue this opportunity.
Creating local jobs is vital in this rapidly growing centre.
The council has flagged a desire to also relocate the town’s library and some or all of its offices to the site.
The advantages of having a council footprint in the town centre are less obvious than attracting new tenants from outside the region.
Today’s announcement is an exciting step forward in Mt Barker’s growth but there are many questions to be answered and opportunities explored.
That process is about to begin.
It must be remembered that this project is for a district that will be home to about 60,000 people in 15-20 years’ time.
A region of that size requires a commercial and social hub beyond a shopping centre and a main street precinct. The council has flagged that widespread consultation will be conducted early next year to officially gauge the community’s desires.
Bring it on!