DAMN NEAR PERFECT: Royal Hotel owners Shane and Sam Toy can't fault Leyburn after moving to the town five years ago.
DAMN NEAR PERFECT: Royal Hotel owners Shane and Sam Toy can't fault Leyburn after moving to the town five years ago. Linda Mantova

Leyburn sprints into the future with major upgrades planned

MAJOR upgrades are on the cards for the humble town of Leyburn after the Southern Downs Regional Council adopted an urban design plan as part of its Shaping Southern Downs initiative.

A stand-out number of the town's 461 residents showed up to community consultation workshops and their vision provided the framework for Ethos Urban's council proposal that could see big changes to the town over the next 10 to 15 years.

Projects included in the plan would be funded from government grants, similar to those in Maryvale and Wallangarra.

Owner of the historic Leyburn Royal Hotel Shane Toy said he was glad Leyburn was getting some attention.

"Sometimes little towns are left behind and bigger cities get more of the spending,” he said.

"It's a great little town that has a country feel, without being too remote.”

The tight-knit community highlighted five aspects of Leyburn that made them proud of their small town: Tourism, heritage, public art, environment and community.

According to residents, the popularity of the Leyburn Sprints and the campground for grey nomad caravanners form the foundation of a tourism industry that should be expanded upon to boost local business.

"That's our biggest asset,” Mr Hoy said.

"It's huge for businesses here because it gets people from all over Australia.”

"If we can get them in they'll go to the pub, the post office and the RSL and they generally spend a few dollars.”

The report establishes five "vision principles” for Leyburn as it grows, including the creation of a town centre, improvement to existing spaces and a tree-lined, solar-lit streetscape.

Within five years the design team aims to create distinctive town entries and reinforce the role of Macintyre St, Dove St and Warwick St as the town core.

In more than ten years, there is the possibility of upgrading Warwick St to improve local accessibility and strengthen the town centre.

The council will also seek to celebrate the beloved Canal Creek and further promote Leyburn to attract visitors.

One such visitor was Leyburn Sprints race director John Mellon, who stopped in town for lunch 15 years ago and decided to never leave.

Mr Mellon welcomes upgrades to the campgrounds and encourages the extension of the amount of time caravanners are permitted to stay.

"People who stop there bring money into the town,” he said.

"During Sprints time there could be 400 odd caravans in there, but there's no showers and only one toilet.”

The committee usually hires port-a-loos for the event, but additional facilities could be useful year-round.

The Ethos Urban proposal suggested a "high-level master plan” to be completed for the campgrounds within two to five years.

Opposite the campground on Tummaville Rd, the open space could be used as an overflow camping space or be developed for recreational use within five to 10 years.

Improved facilities for the younger generation were also within the report, with proposals to improve the picnic area on the corner of Talgai St and the installation of a playground and community garden around the tennis court area.

Mr Hoy said spaces such as these were sorely lacking in the area.

"There's still a few young ones that live out here,” he said.

"We could use an improvement to the kids' park, maybe a skate park.

"Even a bit of a small one with a couple of ramps would be great.”

Other notable improvements include upgrading the Sprints Paddock and creating a town heritage walk.

The creative talents of local artists will be called upon to pay subtle homage to the endangered Bulloak Jewel Butterfly.

Owner of the historic Leyburn Royal Hotel Shane Toy said those small changes would make a big difference to the community, who really didn't want for much.

"It's a good little laidback town and we don't want it to change too much,” he said.

"We could use a few more things for the kids but there's always a bit of business in the area, and there's always something happening.

"We have a few more people retiring here and a couple more families moving out, so we're slowly growing but we're always clean and tidy.”



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