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Featured News Students help revitalise Collinsville

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Thu, 2 Jun 2016

Students help revitalise Collinsville

Two James Cook University students have created a redevelopment master plan for Collinsville to help boost the economy and prosperity of the township.

Two James Cook University students have created a redevelopment master plan for Collinsville to help boost the economy and prosperity of the township.

In the plan, the students identified Collinsville as a potential RV (recreational vehicle) travellers’ hotspot, developing the showgrounds as a community hub and making other sites around the town more attractive and inviting for both locals and tourists.

Fourth year Bachelor of Planning (Honours) students Taryn Pace and Frances Mahlouzarides spent part of their summer holidays in Collinsville earlier this year studying what could be done to revitalise the town.

Their final master plan, Collinsville Redevelopment Master plan: Promoting Tourism and Building Community in the Collinsville Region was presented to Whitsunday Shire Council in Bowen recently.

Ms Pace and Ms Mahlouzarides, from JCU’s College of Science and Engineering, were on a placement in the town organised through the Collinsville Regional Experience (REX) program, which aims to give students a taste of work and life in a regional community.

Ms Mahlouzarides said members of the Collinsville community, which has a population of around 1500, want to give the town a boost, given the recent economic downturn.

“The three key precincts we identified were the Collinsville Showgrounds, which was the main focus, the Collinsville Memorial Park, and the Collinsville Rugby League Club,” Ms Mahlouzarides said.

Ms Pace said ensuring that the Collinsville community was involved and felt ownership of the plan at every step in the process was very important. “The community was very proactive in putting forward ideas and suggestions, including which sites we should look at, and further ideas around greening and beautification,” she said.

Collinsville had recently become an RV friendly town and the main focus of redevelopment was to improve the site already identified as the RV-designated space, to attract and encourage tourism in the town.

“The secondary focus is on upgrading community areas for the locals to enjoy,” she said.

A draft plan was presented to the community at a public meeting in February, and feedback incorporated in the final master plan.

Ms Mahlouzarides said the showgrounds were used by the local community but were due for an upgrade.

“When visiting the showgrounds, we identified areas which could be improved upon. As a result, the master plan for the showground site includes irrigation of the grounds, resurfacing of the car park, planting of trees, shade sails over the tennis courts, the creation of footpaths and additional lighting.”

Ms Mahlouzarides said the Collinsville Rugby League Club was no longer there but the site had the potential to be better utilised.

“The football fields were identified as a secondary site to accommodate the RV population if needed. The designs include an asphalt road going in to the football field, an upgrade to the pre-existing toilet block to include showers, and the creation of an undercover area with BBQ facilities, tables and seating.”

The Collinsville Memorial Park, a site which once accommodated the town’s RSL Hall, is now home to a stand alone World War Two memorial.

“Where the old RSL site is, there is a single cenotaph. We felt the site could be improved to create a nicer space, as it is used for days such as ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day. When the idea was presented to the public it was well received,” she said.

They proposed irrigating the site, planting large and medium trees, installing new shaded picnic tables, park benches and a toilet as well as a new commemorative memorial, among other ideas.

Ms Mahlouzarides said they enjoyed developing the master plan, which counted as a placement subject for their degrees.

“It was actually really fun, we really enjoyed it. The real-life experience was invaluable and was a nice change from a classroom setting.”

Collinsville REX coordinator Sue Clark said the Collinsville community was delighted to host the students and were impressed with their efforts. When presented to council last week, the reaction from councillors was positive as well, she said.

“They were delighted with the girls’ work and happy with the standard of the presentation. They acknowledged it was very well put together,” Ms Clark said.

“The master plan is a credit to them and is an essential piece of our overall redevelopment plan for Collinsville over the next five years.”

JCU has had a number of direct and successful engagements with local communities in the north, with town planning students also involved in creating plans for the redevelopment of Ingham’s CBD last year.

Contacts

Contacts for media:  Frances Mahlouzarides tel: 0418 777 087

Sue Clark – Coordinator Collinsville Connect Telecentre, tel: (07) 4785 6934 or 0419 703 835