Katoomba spruce-up needed

Katoomba's Civic Centre: Under-utilised.
Katoomba's Civic Centre: Under-utilised.

Tired and rundown but with potential: That's some of the feedback council received in the first stage of its Katoomba master plan project.

Residents didn't hold back in giving their views on the state of Katoomba: Dirty, old, daggy, unloved, in need.

At the same time, it was described as unique, quirky, eccentric, beautiful, friendly, artistic, creative and diverse.

The community consultation captured the opinions of more than 1,000 people who either did an online survey or participated in workshops and/or meetings.

Asked to rank what they value about Katoomba, the natural environment came top of the list, followed by the community and way of life, access to shops and services, access to arts and cultural activities, access to recreational activities and restaurants and nightlife.

Of the town itself, people described it as "shabby but wonderful" with an "old world atmosphere".

When asked how to improve Katoomba, survey respondents said:

  • Restore some of the town's old buildings and maintain a connection to the town's rich local history;
  • Improve the amenity of parks and recreational space in town;
  • Address bottlenecks in high traffic areas;
  • Increase the variety of entertainment options, particularly for young people and children; and
  • Develop a strong and recognisable Katoomba identity to stand out from nearby towns.

The traffic issues were raised in survey responses about the retail area, with many wanting Yeaman Bridge widened or another entrance to the town created via a second bridge or an underpass.

Suggestions were also made to redesign the traffic flow along Katoomba Street and around the Cultural Centre with one-way flow, closing off streets on weekends or creating permanent pedestrian malls.

There was strong support for better using the Civic Centre, old library, Cultural Centre and the spaces around them for events, arts and other cultural activities.

There should be better connections between town and Echo Point, including more public transport and cycleways.

And on the northern side of the railway, many suggested an upgrade to the hospital, moving the council building to the town centre, turning the cinema area into an entertainment precinct and fixing the skate park.

Council will now move to stage two of the master plan process, preparing more site-specific designs to share with the community.

Information about the master plan is available at the Have Your Say section on council's website.