Toowoomba Regional Council will partner with Renew Australia in a new program to see if the town’s CBD can be revitalised by encouraging artists and other creatives to set up in empty shops (Photo: TRC)
The Creative CBD Toowoomba logo will identify businesses involved in the project

August 26, 2020

Toowoomba Regional Council will partner with Renew Australia in a Queensland-first trial to revitalise Toowoomba’s CBD and fill empty shops with creative projects.

TRC Planning and Development Committee chair Cr Megan O’Hara Sullivan said Council was seeking expressions of interest to start the trial immediately.

Cr O’Hara Sullivan said the Creative CBD Toowoomba program was designed to help local communities enliven and energise main streets and central business districts by reviving vacant or under-used spaces as creative hubs.

“Council is reviewing feedback provided during our recent Master Plan review of the Toowoomba City Centre and the Creative CBD initiative is one way we can encourage new enterprises to the CBD and promote greater diversity and business activity in the city centre,” she said.

“Council is an affiliate member of Renew Australia, which is a not-for-profit social enterprise that provides support and resources to transform vacant spaces into vibrant businesses.

“Eligible business tenants must complement – not compete – with surrounding businesses.”

Cr O’Hara Sullivan said any programs would be developed with relevant neighbours and customised to suit the needs of property owners and prospective tenants.

“The trial opens opportunities for landowners or property agents to increase the visibility of vacant properties to potential commercial tenants or purchasers while it is occupied by an emerging business.”

Cr O’Hara Sullivan said the Council was committed to supporting and investing in the growth of the Toowoomba CBD.

“The wider Toowoomba CBD, incorporating the Toowoomba Hospital and the Priority Development Area, provides employment for 18,000 workers and generates more than $2 billion in value-add for the regional economy.

“Council has great faith in the CBD, highlighted by the completion of more than 40 projects valued at more than $850 million over the past 10 years, and sees the potential to support more activity to increase the number of residents in and around the CBD.”

TRC Planning and Development Committee portfolio leader Cr Bill Cahill said the Renew projects could be led by community, corporate or government organisations and were tailored to suit available funding.

“Renew defines creative businesses as enterprises that create and sell their own intellectual property or wares,” Cr Cahill said.

“Introducing lively new enterprises keeps foot traffic in the business areas, provides employment and aids overall business confidence.

“New enterprises are attracted by the opportunity to dip a toe in the water without needing significant upfront funds or the uncertainty of signing up to long-term commitments.

“Many of these creative outlets also add to an area’s tourism appeal.

“Toowoomba has a wealth of people involved in creative pursuits and I’m positive the trial will see enterprising residents turning good ideas into prospective business opportunities.”

More information about the program is available online

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