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Council commissions comprehensive plan to unlock potential of Thomson River

Published: 5th June 2020

Mayor CEO and DCQ

Longreach Regional Council has appointed planning and design company Urbis to develop a master plan that unlocks the potential of the Thomson River in Longreach. Market-leading firm Urbis is responsible for designing some of Queensland’s most iconic riverfront areas, including Brisbane’s Howard Smith Wharves and Queen’s Wharf. 

Council says the Thomson River Master Plan provides a compelling opportunity to realise the future potential of the river and enhance its value to the local community and visitors alike. Focusing on a 4km stretch of the river – upstream from Apex Park – the master plan reflects two main considerations: to provide new and improved recreational activities for the local community and to attract more visitors to Longreach by enhancing the tourism potential of the river. 

Urbis Director Glen Power said, “We are ecstatic to be selected to co-create the future of the Thomson River Precinct with the Longreach Regional Council and the broader Longreach community. Although very much loved by the community and visitors to the region, the precinct has been underutilised for many years. Our hope is that the Thomson River Master Plan will set in motion strategies and initiatives to elevate this natural asset as a ‘must do’ in Longreach equal to that of the Qantas Museum and Stockman’s Hall of Fame. But do so in a way that protects and enhances the river and the surrounding environment for the existing community.” 

Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Mitchell Murphy, 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. Mapping out the potential for the precinct in a 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 add value to our economy.

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

Integral to the success of the plan will be a comprehensive program of wide-ranging engagement with community and stakeholders. Members of the public are encouraged to learn more about the project, and complete an online survey to share their ideas, by visiting longreach.qld.gov.au/riverplan. In addition, three online stakeholder workshops will gather ideas and perspectives from Tourism, Small Business, Land Management and Community Group representatives, before a community workshop presents initial findings for public discussion.

The first online stakeholder workshop was completed last week with Tourism, Small Business, and User Group leaders. Leanne Kohler, Chief Executive Officer of Desert Channels Queensland, said she was looking forward to the Land Management conversations that would take place in the development of the plan.

“The Thomson River precinct here at Longreach is a really special environment, particularly being so close to a population centre. It has a unique significance and there are lots of cultural and biodiversity factors that combine to make this a really special place. This is a great initiative by the council to plan out the future of the river here, not only from an economic but a social and environmental standpoint, so that its unique qualities are celebrated and recognised far and wide.”

Mayor Tony Rayner said ultimately, the Thomson River Master Plan would provide a blueprint 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 will serve as a guide for state and federal funding, plus outline a clear pathway toward private sector partnerships as well.”

The completed Thomson River Master Plan is scheduled to be presented to Council for adoption in the final quarter of this year, following a period of public comment. For more information about the project, and to complete the online survey, visit longreach.qld.gov.au/riverplan.  

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