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EXCLUSIVE: This is the petition that could see the Lords Place redevelopment ripped up

September 15, 2023

By Peter Holmes

A petition signed by 20 people from businesses on Lords Place south is calling for an independent review into the $1.58 million project.

The 20 represent almost every tenant on that strip of Lords Place, and most are owners, directors and/or or managers. One (Phil Donato) is a state MP who recently moved offices from Byng Street to Lords Place south.

The Orange News Examiner has viewed the original petition. It was organised and circulated by the Orange Residents and Ratepayers Association (ORRA), and follows recent presentations to the group by two business owners on Lords Place, who spoke of the dire effect the redevelopment has had on their businesses.

The signatories to the petition are:

* Starchem Pharmacy

* Alfio's Pizzeria

* Lords Place Thai

* New Golden Bowl

* Engraving'n'More

* Mane Man's barber

* Raine & Horne

* Ron Boulton Cycles

* Parlour O

* Designs At M

* Cedar Lilly

* Nimrod's Cafe

* PWM Advice

* Hermana House

* Blowes Real Estate

* McGrath's Real Estate

* Good Eddy cafe

* Pinnacle Physio

* Phil Donato MP

The petition states:

The owners or operators of businesses adversely affected by the changes made to the Lords Place business precinct between Kite St. and Summer St. request that the Orange City Councillors arrange for an independent review into:

* Those responsible for originating the plan, and the supporting reasons for the concept's adoption.

* The conduct of council officers and the adequacy of the required consultation process with the affected individuals and business operators.

* The undue haste and unusual secrecy surrounding the commencement of the work.

* Whether councillors were properly informed of the stakeholders' both oral and written concerns regarding the implementation of the street changes that were given to council officers.

* The protracted time taken to carry out the works and the resultant exceeding of the budget, and the option of returning the streetscape to its original layout, after the end of the proposed trial period.

ORRA says the "issues raised by the businessowners have been consistent in most aspects".

The controversial Lords Place south makeover involved the removal of mature trees and a third of the parking spots, and the addition of outdoor dining pods, shade structures, nascent trees, green paint, benches and oversized plastic pot plants.

On April Fools Day we had some fun imagining triple decker dining pods.

ORRA describes it as "ill-conceived, unattractive and impractical".

"Business owners believe that councillors who had voted in support of the street changes could not have been fully aware of the details, or they would more likely have voted along with councillors [Frances] Kinghorne, [Jeff] Whitton and [Kevin] Duffy who had voted against the development," ORRA said.

"The business owners were told both verbally and in writing that the Lords Place changes were only a trial and could be reversed after a given period. The ORRA proposes to pursue the matter on behalf of those adversely affected by the council's handling of the Lords Place changes."

Councillor Jeff Whitton is mulling moving a motion at Tuesday night's Orange City Council (OCC) meeting to have the redevelopment ripped up, and Lords Place returned to how it was.

Councillors are meant to supply motions to council staff at least 10 days before a meeting, but Whitton said he is still able to raise the issue and make a move on bringing the experiment to an end.

Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

Whitton doesn't blame council staff for Lords Place south - he told The Orange News Examiner that the responsibility is with the councillors.

"The staff put up ideas and the councillors ratify them or they don't," he said. "[Those that voted for the redevelopment] said they would reverse it - well, if they are fair dinkum they will listen to those businesses and honour what they said they would do, and that is pull it out."

In a statement in response to the petition, an OCC spokesperson said: "Council meets routinely with representatives of the Ratepayers Association and this specific issue hasn’t been raised by them. Council hasn’t received a petition from the Association."

ORRA said it had raised the issue of Lords Place with senior council staff on a number of occasions, most recently during meetings in June and July.

Lords Place dining pod. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

If the issue of tearing up the redevelopment is brought to the chamber on Tuesday night (September 23, 2023) by Whitton, he will need six votes - if mayor Jason Hamling remains on leave - to have the matter brought to a head and the makeover dismantled.

If the three who voted against the development remain steadfast, where will the other three votes to shut it down come from?

Given their statements in recent months, deputy mayor Gerald Power, and councillors Jack Evans, David Mallard and Melanie McDonell, probably wouldn't vote for removal, leaving councillors Tammy Greenhalgh, Glenn Floyd, Steve Peterson and Tony Mileto with the power to swing the vote.

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