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Council adopts eagerly anticipated master plan to unlock potential of Thomson River

Published: 4th June 2021

Mayor Rayner with Adopted TRMP Web

Longreach Regional Council has formally adopted the Thomson River Master Plan, a decades-long vision for the future of the Thomson River precinct at Longreach.

The Thomson River Master Plan states its aim is to create “a delightful backyard for the local community, as well as a major attraction for visitors”. Mayor Tony Rayner said the plan was for locals, first and foremost.

“Locals have had input into this plan at every stage of its development, so it really is their plan” he said. “It’s important that the precinct become a destination for locals first, and then visitors will follow.”

The master plan is broken down into a western and eastern precinct, with the latter being largely untouched with minimal interventions, and the former containing the majority of master plan proposed works. Chief among these is the River Parkland Precinct with improved access to the river for swimmers and watercraft, adventure and nature play activities, barbeques and amenities, flexible event space and much more. 

The plan also features an Indigenous Heritage Trail Precinct featuring rehabilitated and sculptural landscapes, a Discovery Centre and Observation Tower, and interpretative signage. An Outback Campground Precinct will feature improved basic facilities, better trafficability for freedom camping vehicles, walk-in natural campsites and more.

It is expected that the complete vision detailed in the plan will take many years to fully realise, and Mayor Rayner said the document provides a guide for both public-sector and private investment.

“This kind of work is very important for communities to undertake, because it acts as a catalyst for sustainable investment and growth. The vision outlined in the plan provides a blueprint for decades of government and private investment.”

Despite this, the plan does identify some quick wins, and Council said they already had some grant funding allocated toward the project which would be spent by the end of the year.

“We have dedicated a small amount of some existing state and federal funding toward early works around Apex Park” said Mitchell Murphy, Council’s Chief Executive Officer. “So the community can expect to see some minor improvements there as early as the end of this year.” 

He said the project is the first of its kind in-region.

“This is an unprecedented move to plan out the future of one of our region’s most valuable assets. This master plan will help guide Council, the community, and industry, in making strategic decisions that connect the river to our community, protect its unique character, and support our economy and small businesses.

Mayor Rayner said the community had been very supportive of the plan during its development.

“The plan has a lot of support from our community, and that’s no surprise because we’ve been talking to them at various stages through its development” he said. “I think most people are excited about the potential of the plan.” 

He said concerns about flooding and maintenance are valid but can be readily addressed. 

“Council is very aware that the area floods, but we see plenty of ways to address that going forward. Those factors have been part of the brief on this project from day one, and we’re confident in the expertise of the planners. They have extremely relevant experience in similar situations, with their recent work on the Fitzroy River in Rockhampton being a prime example.

“We also have a very robust process for considering the maintenance costs associated with any new project. A couple of years ago we established a Project Decision Group that considers the whole-of-life capital and operational costs of any new project over $50,000 in value. To pass through our Project Decision Group, a project must have an approved concept brief and business case identifying whole-of-life costs.

“Each new stage of this plan will need to go through that process before work can commence.”

CEO Mitchell Murphy said an internal working group would be established to drive the implementation of the master plan.

“It’s important that we have buy-in from across the organisation as we implement the plan” he said. The working group will identify grant funding streams, provide visibility and accountability in project planning, consider those whole-of-life maintenance costings, determine appropriate priorities for implementation, demonstrate a whole of Council commitment, and coordinate with external stakeholders periodically as required.”

“Ultimately, this plan will help us make the region a better place to live and to visit.”

The adopted Thomson River Master Plan is available to the public on the Longreach Regional Council website by visiting longreach.qld.gov.au/riverplan

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