Renewed support for Peel St mall

THE historic debate over a mall for Peel St has been reinvigorated after the proposal for a 40km/h speed limit in Tamworth’s CBD. 

A number of people took to Facebook last week to suggest the inclusion of a pedestrian-friendly mall as an alternative safety measure after The Leader reported plans for the speed reduction earlier in the week.

However, it is not the first time the concept has been floated.

The idea was strongly supported by the then Tamworth City Council in the early ’90s, but was ultimately abandoned in favour of beatification following community consultation.

“In 1990 when I came on board the concept of a mall was very much in council’s mind at that time and had been for many years,” Tamworth Regional Council strategic planning manager Genevieve Harrison said.

“Then we went down a process of deciding whether as a city we really wanted to have a mall or whether we wanted to opt to beautify (Peel St) instead.”

Council engaged architects to design two plans, one for a full mall encompassing the “middle block” (from Brisbane to Fitzroy streets) and another for a partial mall, which involved street widening and landscaping.

The overwhelming response was for the latter.

“The first reason is that they wanted the opportunity to park outside the shops ... and second they felt that there were issues with closed malls and security in terms of crime prevention,” Ms Harrison said.

“So we elected to widen the streets and engaged the firm to draw up a design for us that captured all of those comments and that is what we have today.”

Ms Harrison said while introducing a mall in Peel St would “potentially be a backwards step” plans for a plaza or mall along Fitzroy St were still afoot.

James Wallace, CBD Centre member, agreed the closure of Peel St to traffic would be a mistake.

“It is a vibrant precinct now, a big part of that being the ability to park in the immediate vicinity of your desired location,” he said.

“It is hard to imagine how the street would be improved by removing traffic and would run the risk of emptying out if there was need (real or just perceived) to park further from your destination. Convenience is a big part of why people enjoy living in regional areas.

At the request of local police, Tamworth Regional Council has referred the speed zone matter to the Roads and Martime Services for review and determination.

If given final approval, the high pedestrian activity zone would incorporate eight streets, including Peel, Darling, Bourke, Fitzroy, White, Hill, Dowe and Byrnes Ave.

Currently the speed limit within Tamworth’s CBD is the urban area default limit of 50km/h.

Marius St (60km/h) and Kable Ave (50km/h) will remain unchanged.

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