One thing we found during the six weeks when the movie was in town it is that the current downtown area, faced with a flood of visitors, doesn’t have a lot of parking close to places where a lot of people want to go.
Anyone visiting the Post Office or planning to go shopping in town will find parking spaces are few and far between if you’re not keen on walking too far. They exist, but you’re probably going to be faced with a bit of a hike.
An astute observer would probably be prompted to ask how the current supply of parking spaces would cope if Bowen’s population doubles or trebles over the next twenty-five years. To be quite straightforward, it won’t.
In a way, that won’t matter, because in twenty-five years people won’t be visiting the downtown area to do the things they do now. You’d guess that they’ll still be going to the Post Office, but there’ll be another Post Office wherever the big retail developments end up being located.
It won’t be too long before Bowen has the same kind of commercial developments that you find along the northern approaches to Mackay and Rockhampton or at the base of Mount Louisa in Townsville, those big retail outlets surrounded by spacious car parks that you visit once in a while.
In the vicinity you’ll also find supermarkets as well as the range of specialty shops you find in any shopping complex, but they’ll be surrounded by other specialty stores covering everything from furniture to fruit trees.
Right now there are probably developers who are laying the groundwork for precisely that kind of development.
The problem is that we don’t know where they’re looking, and we probably won’t find out about it until either they’re good and ready to unveil the plans or Council forces their hand by deciding well in advance of any applications where such developments are going to go.
Hopefully, it will be Council dictating to the developers rather than the other way around.
Would it be desirable, for example, to have substantial extra development in the area around Centrepoint?
There may be room to do it, but I would have thought that a substantial increase in traffic around the High School would be highly undesirable.
In addition, developments in that area are still well away from the extensive new residential developments to the south of the town.
Once the first of these new “drive to” developments goes ahead, businesses in the current central business district will be faced with a difficult decision.