HIGHER education in Australia is becoming increasingly competitive due to Federal Government policy shifts and changes in student needs, campus trends, course demand, and evolving workforce professions.
These new challenges are the impetus behind Charles Sturt University and Bathurst Regional Council's bold, innovative plan to incorporate a new CBD campus into a future Bathurst Town Centre.
The ability to adapt to new conditions is fundamental to success, and our Bathurst Campus needs a new way forward.
There has been a move for many Australian universities currently located in suburbs or town fringes to move into CBDs, activating cities and helping boost student demand and innovation.
Bathurst community feedback in early 2019 overwhelmingly recommended the university have a presence in the Bathurst CBD to connect with the city.
The vision is for a new-era campus in the city with a vibrant CBD precinct and reinvented, repurposed existing site.
It's big-picture thinking - but not without significant community consultation and rigorous analysis. This is why the university is collaborating with council to fund the development of a comprehensive Bathurst Town Centre Master Plan.
Other planning documents that will be used to guide thinking for future developments include the Economic Cluster Strategy and Next Generation Performing Arts Vision.
The objectives are for the university to attract and retain students and staff, integrate the university with the city and to ensure the campus thrives for the next 30 years.
The key principles to be adopted by the master plan are:
- Retention of the heritage significance of the Bathurst Town Centre.
- Unification and improvement of public access into and between each town centre block.
- Activation of the Bathurst Town Square, and the former TAFE site, as the heart of the Bathurst Town Centre, to create a sense of place and an environment where people want to spend time.
- Community and cultural activation of the Bathurst Town Centre precinct.
The master plan also seeks to strengthen the Bathurst Town Centre as the regional business and cultural hub of the city in an era of significant retail change.
The Bathurst Town Square Group (a committee of the Bathurst District Historical Society) is supportive of the proposal.
The Bathurst Town Square Group is committed to promoting, interpreting and realising physical changes to the Bathurst Town Square as the vibrant historic heart of the city of Bathurst, and the university and council shares that vision.
The Town Square Group's convenor, Pauline Barker, commended the consultation process being undertaken, engaging stakeholders and community groups involving the town square.
"The revitalisation of this unique site for public access and utilisation has always been the focus of the Town Square Group and we anticipate an active participation role in a robust and open discourse with Charles Sturt and Bathurst Regional Council at each stage of the proposed shared vision," she said.
Charles Sturt and Bathurst Regional Council will continue to engage with the community throughout the process.