Plans for Stanthorpe Botanical Gardens. Picture: SDRC
Plans for Stanthorpe Botanical Gardens. Picture: SDRC

SDRC makes call on $47M botanical gardens proposal

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Plans for the controversial $47m Stanthorpe Botanical Gardens have ground to a halt as Southern Downs councillors sling the proposal toward the bottom of their priority list.

The masterplan for the 38ha gardens instantly divided representatives when it was presented at a Southern Downs Regional Council meeting in October last year.

The 38ha gardens would include eight unique areas under the community-driven plans, such as a cultural precinct, village green, indigenous story gardens, and Anzac memorial gardens.

Councillors eventually decided to open the proposal to community consultation for eight weeks, with the collated feedback presented at this week’s SDRC meeting on Wednesday.

Residents’ reviews were mixed, praising the project’s “strong themes” and “visionary” concept while voicing doubts about the gardens’ whopping price tag at the expense of other infrastructure.

Southern Downs councillors seemed to take community views into account, voting unanimously to “consider high-priority infrastructure projects prior to proceeding further”.

Plans for eight-stage Stanthorpe Botanical Gardens. Picture: SDRC
Plans for eight-stage Stanthorpe Botanical Gardens. Picture: SDRC

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Councillor Cameron Gow voiced concerns that putting the project on ice would prove a waste of SDRC officers’ time and resources in planning to-date.

“I’m not dismissing the plan, but I’m not overly keen on having it sit there in limbo – we’ve done all this work, so what are we going to get out of it as a council and a community?” he said.

Mayor Vic Pennisi was quick to intervene, sharing his hopes that individual elements of the masterplan would eventually be brought to life in Stanthorpe’s existing natural spaces.

“The one that is certainly of interest to me personally is where we talk about alternate projects in natural areas such as Mt Marlay and Sentimental Rocks,” Cr Pennisi said.

“What this (report) is saying to me is the botanical gardens are not a priority, and there may be something that replaces it down the track. But financially, we just can’t afford it.”

It was not made clear when the proposal could next be discussed.



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