WESTFIELD JUMPS TO ACTION ON COOMERA TOWN CENTRE
Written on the 16 January 2015 by Nick Nichols
WESTFIELD has scrambled to action this week, raising expectations that it is poised to announce a start to the long-awaited $1.5 billion Coomera Town Centre after the Newman Government vowed to finally upgrade the Exit 54 bottleneck on the M1.
A Westfield spokesman says the shopping centre giant has held a number of meetings this week following news of the road upgrade and an announcement on the start date will have to wait until after the January 31 election.
Transport Minister Scott Emerson unveiled plans for the $74 million upgrade which aims to ease congestion on roads that service Dreamworld to the east of the M1 and the burgeoning upper Coomera area to the west.
The existing network would have crumbled under the weight of the traffic expected from the proposed town centre development to be located along Foxwell Road. Coomera Town Centre will be a major regional centre competing against the might of Pacific Fair and Robina Town Centre with around 100,000sqm of retail space.
Westfield recently flagged a scaled-down version of the project pending the road upgrade, but the company spokesman did not comment on whether there has been a reconsideration of the size of the project in light of the upgrade.
"Monday's announcement of the intention to upgrade Exit 54 has removed a major impediment to the development at Coomera Town Centre," says the spokesman from Scentre Group, which owns Westfield retail centres in Australia.
"Scentre Group will continue to work with various parties, including the State Government, post-election to determine details that include, among other things, the timing of the project's commencement."
A spokesman for the Transport Minister says the road upgrade will proceed under a re-elected Newman Government and that it is not subject to the leasing of government assets.
"It will be funded from the Queensland Government transport infrastructure funding, along with contributions from the Federal Government and the developers," says the spokesman.
Approvals for the town centre have been in place for some time after Westfield and the city council reached agreement on infrastructure charges. However the traffic congestion at Exit 54 has been the latest barrier keeping the project on ice.
Mayor Tom Tate has welcomed the proposed upgrade which is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.
"Congestion at Exit 54 has not been just a traffic bottleneck it has been an investment bottleneck that stalled or jeopardised thousands of much needed jobs," says Tate.
"A commitment by the state and federal government governments has come as an enormous relief to council and I'm sure families caught in the endless gridlock.
"Importantly, it will be a catalyst for the commencement of the long-awaited Coomera Town Centre which will become an important piece of social infrastructure.
"Council has been lobbying for the upgrade for years and played its part by spending millions upgrading the capacity of feeder roads to the sore spot.
"While the LNP has committed to the upgrade, I have separately written to all local candidates and parties to urge them to make a similar commitment."
"Growth is an unavoidable symptom of having Australia's best lifestyle and it's important that infrastructure keep pace lest we put that at risk."
Emerson says the project will be out to tender in the next few months with the proposal to replace two heavily congested roundabouts with signalled intersections and a new three-lane overpass.
"A new loop ramp for northbound motorists will connect to the Coomera town centre and reduce traffic congestion at these intersections," he says.
The State Government will contribute $47.4 million towards the upgrade, along with $10 million from the Federal Government and $17.3 million from Westfield.
Pictured: Coomera Waters, surrounds of Coomera Town Centre
Author: Nick Nichols