A group of concerned Bungendore residents is hoping to reach a compromise with Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) on a proposal to build a car park in the heart of the town.
Many residents are saying there is not a car parking problem in Bungendore, despite QPRC proposing to create an additional 130 spaces on a heritage area which residents would prefer to preserve as a green space for markets.
A QPRC spokesperson said council will consider the matter at its next meeting on 24 June.
Following a Region Media article last week (13 June) that brought the car park proposal issue to light, residents have banded together to lobby QPRC to consider their submissions for the space that links the town’s main business hub, bounded by Malbon Street (also the Kings Highway), Gibraltar Street (which feeds off Bungendore Road) and Ellendon Street.
The Bungendore Residents Group feels council hasn’t fully considered their views, despite submissions having closed on 1 June.
Secretary of the group, Kerry Doutch, and concerned resident and business owner Alix Burnett told Region Media the area is vital to the town.
“There needs to be a compromise here,” said Ms Doutch. “Why can’t we have a green space and a car park?
She added their biggest concern is preserving the heritage of the town, which is disappearing.
“The houses behind Malbon Street have historic gardens, and although they are a bit unkept, they are part of the origins of the town,” said Ms Doutch. “That area is where old Bungendore started.
“The compromise is to keep the heritage and the beauty of the town with nice walking and sitting spaces to attract tourists.”
Car parking in Bungendore is a long-running issue that existed before the merger of the Queanbeyan and Palerang councils in 2016. It also feeds into the move of the former supermarket in Gibraltar Street to its current location in Malbon Street, where a large car park also sits.
The concept design for the car park, that was presented for community comment in 2019, shows stage one and stage two of the proposed car park.
QPRC purchased land in 2007 and 2012 to allow for stage one for 68 vehicle parking spaces, three accessible (disabled) spaces, public toilets and electric vehicle charging points. Stage one forms the southern half of the plan that was presented, which is the half closest to Malbon Street/Kings Highway.
Stage two, which is yet to be approved by QPRC, would include a further 63 spaces. Council does not own the land for stage two, but would borrow money to fund the purchase, with funds being allocated in its 2020-2021 operational plan.
The project is estimated to cost $2.5 million and council has assured residents there will be no increase in rates to fund the project.
A QPRC spokesperson said both stages of the proposed car park would include footpath connections to surrounding streets and infrastructure such as electrical and water connections that could allow it to be used for other purposes such as markets.
“Council will continue to address concerns raised by the community as the project progresses,” said the spokesperson. “All submissions will be presented to council’s meeting on 24 June where the operational plan will be adopted.”
Ms Burnett, who owns a business on Malbon Street, said the issue is critical to keeping Bungendore’s businesses operating, but the construction of a car park and a roundabout on the corner of the Kings Highway and Malbon Street would only further hurt businesses hit hard by the past summer’s bushfires and COVID-19.
“We’re looking for opportunities to reinvigorate Bungendore, and some businesses are upset about having a car park and roundabout construction while they are trying to recover from the bushfires and the lockdown,” said Ms Burnett.
“Under the circumstances of what we’ve been going through, this could be put on hold until the town recovers.”
With some businesses having already closed their doors, Ms Burnett feels there is an opportunity to reconsider the construction of a 131-space car park, which could be reduced to about 70 spaces while still incorporating an area for markets that preserves the town’s heritage.
“This is the perfect spot to unite the three business streets (Malbon, Gibraltar and Ellendon streets) but I just don’t see how a full car park is going to do that,” she said. “I see plenty of car parks available, even on weekends.
“That space is vital to reinvigorating Bungendore and I don’t see why we can’t have a beautiful green space for markets and a smaller car park.”