Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Eat St Starved for Affection Margaret St Needs a Makeover; Business Owners Worried about 'Ghost Town'

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Eat St Starved for Affection Margaret St Needs a Makeover; Business Owners Worried about 'Ghost Town'

Article excerpt

Byline: Meghan Harris meghan.harris@thechronicle.com.au

IT'S the lack of vibrancy and energy in the CBD that has business owners fearing about the fate of their stores.

Traders are also worried about the impact of the new Grand Central redevelopment.

Some businesses are already struggling to keep their doors open, with Margaret St described as a "ghost town".

Gelatissimo owner and City Heart Toowoomba Group president Gary Wilson said it was the small things that would make a difference.

He said although the Toowoomba Regional Council had a master plan in place nothing seemed to be happening down the eastern end of the street.

"My main concern is the lack of energy. We need to create true CBD street culture which is what more people are seeking," he said.

"Parking is obviously an issue but it's not the only issue. The other side of it is the lack of attractiveness in the actual street.

"A lack of investment over a long period of time has caused the street to lose the vibrancy the CBD is supposed to have."

Ideas to bring life back to the CBD are more parking, better lighting, more public toilets, baby change rooms, permanent shade structures, outdoor dining, art work and colourful plants.

Toowoomba Regional Council planning and development committee chair Cr Chris Tait said there were no immediate plans to upgrade the streetscape in the eastern part of Margaret St.

But he said he was happy to speak to traders about what they would like to see happen.

"Council has been offering CBD heritage incentives for the past few years and a number of buildings have been brought back to life under this scheme.

"There are a number of ways that landholders can get involved.

"I am more than happy to talk about the options on offer at present."

Mr Wilson said he was desperate for council to prioritise Margaret St, especially with the lead up to the Grand Central expansion.

"As business owners we live and breathe the streetscape every day and we know what would improve the CBD," he said.

"It's the simple things that would make a difference but I feel like it falls on deaf ears. …

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