COUNCILLORS and Bathurst Regional Council managers often seem to have little understanding of what is strategic planning.
Recently a council manager bemoaned that a solution to the Hereford Street congestion would be three years away by the time they assessed the problem, planned a solution and built their way out of the mess.
The latest plan in panic mode is to take out a roundabout, put in more traffic lights and funnel even more traffic into the CBD by doubling entry lanes. I wonder if they have a plan for dealing with the gridlock caused by even more traffic crowding the CBD?
They certainly didn't have the strategic planning hat on when several years ago they blindly approved estate after estate in Kelso, east of the Macquarie. Did it not dawn on them that the residents had cars and would be wanting to get into the CBD?
So, what is strategic? Do we expect Bathurst to exist in 50 years? Of course. In 100 years? Why not. In 200 years? I hope so.
And we must assume it will - after all, that is almost how long Bathurst has been in existence. If this seems a bit silly then are we saying it won't exist in, say, 500 years? Of course it will but it is not part of our current planning. My point is, we need to ask the question, what should we be doing now to cope in the future?
In my opinion, our sustainable strategic competitive advantage is in our history and architecture, not in a race track. Any town can build a better race track (and one day they will) and that advantage will be lost. But they can't build history and our wonderful buildings and countryside.
Tourists crave history, the beauty of our architecture and parks and our countryside. This is where our future lives.
We need to stop destroying our beauty and history and preserve our historic CBD, not fill it with gridlocked cars for the sake of "progress" at any cost.
Locating the new medical centre in the CBD may seem like progress but it will, in years, to come be seen as a mistake and out of place with a cluttered historic centre.
We cannot keep cramming new businesses into a small CBD constrained by a river, a busy highway and the railway line.
It's time to build a bypass and establish a new commercial CBD accessed via the bypass. The new medical centre could be the start of a logical, long-term future.
Bob Sugden, Forest Grove
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