Prominent Coast architect Ken Down has had his say on the current mass transit plans out for community consultation.
Prominent Coast architect Ken Down has had his say on the current mass transit plans out for community consultation.

Prominent architect fears light rail could destroy character

Prominent Sunshine Coast architect Ken Down says he fears a light rail system could destroy the character of the region and has called for an uplift in local design standards.

The long-time local architect who designed landmarks including the Mooloolaba Surf Club, Sunshine Coast Turf Club, Australia Zoo's Crocoseum and several Coast schools said he couldn't understand how any designer could consider a system that would cause such impact to the natural asset that is the beachfront.

Mr Down said there were also not enough technical plans being shown about how a light rail system could fit along the proposed route from Birtinya to Maroochydore, as the community engages in an eight-week public consultation process on a future mass transit system.

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Light rail is the highest-ranked option in the recently-released draft options analysis report, but Mr Down said he could not see how a system of the scale of the Gold Coast's could fit along the proposed route here.

Mr Down said from his experience on the Gold Coast light rail it had several key advantages which made it more viable.

He said the much larger population helped boost its catchment as well as the fact the rail was on a major road which had replicas to the east and west which enabled the impact on road traffic to be minimised.

Mr Down also said the Gold Coast had been clever not to run the light rail along the beachfront as they knew the value the visual beauty of the beaches held for the region.

An artist's impression of trackless trams, which is one of the options presented in Sunshine Coast Council's Draft Options Analysis for a mass transit plan.
An artist's impression of trackless trams, which is one of the options presented in Sunshine Coast Council's Draft Options Analysis for a mass transit plan.

 

He also said the Gold Coast's advantage of being a significantly larger region physically made a huge difference and people had to accept there were some limitations on the Sunshine Coast as it was a "lot more fragile environment".

From a design point of view he said a light rail along Alexandra Headland and Maroochydore would create a visual barrier to the beach as well as a pedestrian barrier for users.

Mr Down said he thought a heavy rail into Maroochydore providing a reliable, fast connection to Brisbane would be far more beneficial to the broader Sunshine Coast.

He said the corridor had already been secured and it would also make hinterland rail towns more attractive, with the ability to be in Brisbane in less than an hour and also 20 minutes from Maroochydore via train for the beaches.

"Do we want to maintain our character or do we want to destroy it?" Mr Down said.

"If people come here for a certain character you can't then change that character."

Prominent Coast architect Ken Down has had his say on the current mass transit plans out for community consultation.
Prominent Coast architect Ken Down has had his say on the current mass transit plans out for community consultation.

 

He said a light rail would "totally change" the look of the region and didn't consider the Coast to have anywhere with enough size, including Nicklin Way, to accommodate the infrastructure needed.

Mr Down encouraged Sunshine Coast Council to take a more proactive approach to its planning processes and demand a higher standard of product from developers, instead of a rollout of what he called "inappropriate buildings that are reflecting or mirroring big city buildings".

He said there needed to be a return to the days of trying to create award-winning buildings through quality design, instead of what he felt were more "mass produced" products at present which damaged the region's character.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson and Deputy Mayor Rick Baberowski recently announced the start of community consultation for the Mass Transit Plan Options Analysis.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson and Deputy Mayor Rick Baberowski recently announced the start of community consultation for the Mass Transit Plan Options Analysis.

 

He challenged young local architects to take the lead and push for better quality design to be incorporated in future projects.

A community consultation process is currently underway for a future mass transit system, with the council's preferred light rail system the highest-ranked option in a recently-published draft options analysis report.

Feedback from the consultation would help guide the final report which, if approved by the council would be progressed to the state government, which was ultimately responsible for the delivery of any mass transit system.

A war of words also broke out between Coast LNP state MPs and state Transport Minister Mark Bailey, with Federal MPs also drawn into the stoush.