Town centre plan

An artist’s impression of the council’s proposed town square.

It seems to have taken an extraordinary amount of time but the development of the Mt Barker CBD’s final significant parcel of vacant land seems assured.
For such a site to have remained vacant in the centre of SA’s fastest growing town is bizarre.
The land was initially earmarked for a Big W retail store but when that plan failed the council identified it as a valuable community asset and was able to purchase it in conjunction with a developer. That partnership seems set to finally deliver.
It is envisaged the site will have a significant residential component as well as a hotel (which is much needed to resolve shortcoming of Mt Barker), commercial offices, car parking, council offices and possibly a library. A town square is also planned.
The community is currently being given a chance to comment on the town square proposal and is expected to have more input as the development progresses.
The proposed development will provide a significant boost to the vibrancy of the town centre.
Anything which creates local employment is to be applauded and the hotel and office spaces are in a perfect position to do this.
More emphasis should be placed on generating local jobs, as fewer people drawn down the freeway to the city each day is not only an advantage to those individuals but also better for the already strained public transport infrastructure.
The Mt Barker Council will need to lobby hard to attract Federal and State funding to help build its new offices and a library or civic centre. The council already spends $650,000 a year renting its current offices in the Homemaker Centre but it must be mindful to use any taxpayer dollars allocated to the development wisely and create as much community space as possible while resisting the temptation to build an ‘ivory tower’ for itself.
With only a little over 10% of Mt Barker’s 1300ha of rezoned land developed and with the council battling to manage a plethora of problems associated with that growth, the last thing it needs is to be seen spending lavishly on itself while ratepayers suffer the backlash of the town’s growing pains.