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Orange business owners tee off on proposed Lords Place makeover

August 12, 2022


The pod outside Crema on Lords Place. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

By Peter Holmes


The man behind Alfio’s Pizzeria, Salvo Sciuto, becomes animated when asked about Orange City Council’s proposed redevelopment of Lords Place south, where the family business has been for more than 40 years.


“Mate, it’s an absolute shitshow in all respects,” he said, before backtracking slightly. “They’ve got certain good ideas, so it’s not an absolute shitshow, but I don’t think it will be of benefit.”


Sciuto has expressed his concern to council over a number of issues related to safety, convenience and bottlenecks.



“They want to put all these seats out here, and people don’t even use the pod outside Crema. Look now, it’s raining, there is no-one there, and it’s taking up three or four parking spots all day every day. Now they want to take another 23 parking spots away?”



[Editor’s note: The pod with benches outside Crema does get some use, particularly early in the morning as people wait for their coffee or sit and chat, but for many hours of the day it is underutilised.]

Computer generated image showing shade, plants, seating and trees. Supplied.

Line-of-sight issues with new trees and the narrowed road thoroughfare would make it less safe for drivers and pedestrians, Sciuto said.


The idea of transforming the Ophir Car Park into a multi-level facility was appealing, but it was something that had been kicked down the road for years.

“Council says they have no money in the budget to do it,” he said.






Sciuto said the discussions with business and property owners should have occurred months ago.


Veteran Orange real estate agent Gary Blowes was blunt in his assessment of the proposed changes.

“I don’t think it’s been thought through well at all,” he said. “It won’t affect my business in the slightest, but it will affect others dramatically.”



Business and property owners along Lords Place south - including Blowes’ agency on the corner of Lords Place and Kite Street - are deeply divided over the proposed redevelopment of the streetscape.



Often busy on Lords Place. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.


Council has surveyed dozens of businesses and property owners on the strip from Summer to Kite streets, and a report in the agenda for next Tuesday night’s council meeting shows the depth of feeling on both sides of the debate.



The proposed beautification and redesign of Lords Place south would see the number of parking spots drop from 67 to 44, a loss of more than third (34 percent).


Trees would be replaced and more “parklets” - extensions to footpaths for seating, plants, lighting, etc - introduced.


The development would be funded by $900,000 from council and a $500,000 state government Shared Spaces Program grant. The program is for trial projects that test permanent changes that “strengthen the amenity, accessibility and economic vitality of a high street and surrounding area”.




The concept plan includes:
• New street trees;
• Footpath widening to create outdoor spaces;
• A narrowing of the available drive lanes to improve pedestrian safety and to slow vehicle speeds;
• Shade structures;
• Seating;
• Lighting Parklets.


The Golden Bowl, Lords Place Thai and Alfio's Pizzeria. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

There are currently 16 trees in Lords Place south.


The concept plan includes removal of 10 of these. Three trident maples near the Commonwealth Bank and three ornamental pears near Crema, The Canobolas Hotel and StarChem would be retained.



When the tree planting part of the project was complete there would be 28 trees in Lords Place south. The new trees would be advanced specimens of red ash and field maple and approximately four metres tall.



Council staff “engaged” with 40 business and property owners on Lords Place south earlier this month via face to face discussions, phone and email.


“There are more than 50 businesses in Lords Place south,” the staff report stated. “There is a mix of hospitality, service businesses and retailers. The feedback to date and contained in this report is qualitative in nature and does not represent a poll on the proposal.”




The upshot? “Overall, there is good support to upgrade the street.”

Orange City Council

However, “amongst the engagement results to date there are approximately eight stakeholders who do not support the draft concept in any way. There are a similar number that strongly support the concept plan”.



There were about 30 businesses that “generally support the principles of the concept but include caveats mostly around ways the parking losses can be managed”.


At 199-201 Lords Place is the Golden Bowl Chinese Restaurant. Co-owner Lynn Teh told The Orange News Examiner on Friday that she was in favour of the council introducing 15- or 30-minute parking spots “so it’s easy for people to drop by and get something”.



But she was concerned about any reduction in parking spaces, and described the proposed redevelopment as “good and bad”.



“We need more parking spots,” she said.


Orange City Council.

Here are some of the many comments from impacted parties published in council papers (edited for clarity):


  1. Businesses will lose customers if there is no car parking available.

  2. Nice to have, but where are those 20 cars going?

  3. Council is strict on parking contributions, but can just take away 20 odd spaces.

  4. With respect to trying to reduce traffic in the street, this will never happen, whilst ever people drive motor cars.

  5. Need to get the balance right between beautification and commercial needs.

  6. How do we do it and not impact businesses during construction?

  7. We don’t want people in Dubbo and Bathurst saying they won’t come to Orange because you can’t get a park.

  8. Based on the hourly car parking time limits, if Lords Place operates from 8.30am to 6.30pm … the loss of hourly car spaces over a 10-hour day is 230 hours. That could be a potential loss of 230 customers per day to businesses, or 1,150 customers on a weekday basis.

  9. Where do these customers park to access businesses in that part of the street once the parking spaces are lost?

  10. The Lords Place South Draft Concept Plan indicates that the Ophir car park could become a multi-storey car park. I have not seen any Orange City Council proposal or commentary that council intends to commit to building a multi-storey car park on that site. This multi-level carpark should be built, prior to the loss of the car spaces in Lords Place.

  11. Would like a trial of the outdoor dining area.

  12. Support the plan – it’s a great idea.

  13. If people can’t find a spot, they keep driving.

  14. You will stuff the ‘through traffic’ if you reduce the lane widths.

  15. We object to this proposal in the strongest possible terms.

  16. Like the slowing of the traffic and making the whole block more pedestrian friendly.

  17. We have had increasing concerns about the lack of parking in Lords Place and surrounding area. It is now the case that there is no parking available even in the Ophir car park from 9am. The McNamara Lane car park at the rear of our building has no all-day parking available from about 8.15 most mornings. Often from 9am there aren’t even any 2-hour parking spots available.

  18. We are concerned that there may be a reduction in the timed allowances for parking in those 44 spots that do remain. Anything under a one-hour parking restriction would be disastrous for us.

  19. Like the plan but needs parking loss offsets.

  20. Love it; the people need it.

  21. The street is not safe. It’s like playing Frogger trying to get across the street. Consider a midblock pedestrian crossing, not a zebra but maybe a raised shared space platform.

  22. Worried about how long the works will take and impacts on businesses.

  23. Would like to see short term parking 10-15 minutes to allow pickups and also allow couriers to stop.

  24. Like the idea of additional dining.

  25. No major issues - like where we are going.

  26. Decked parking first would have been better.

  27. Concerned about vandalism.

  28. Dining pods will not be utilised enough in the winter or for nine months of the year.

  29. Like the plan but parking is an issue. A lot of elderly like to park close to our business. Would like a disabled spot included out the front.

  30. After meeting with representatives from council this morning, we feel that our concerns re parking were met with an attitude that Orange will just have to move with the times and become more “Europe-like”, meaning less reliance on cars in the CBD and a move to more pedestrian activity generally. To this we would comment that Orange is a regional Australian town, and not a metropolitan city with the appropriate infrastructure to support this. Many of our clients come to us from not only outside Orange itself, but also from other towns including Cowra, Blayney, Millthorpe and as far as Mudgee, Narromine, Forbes, Parkes and Condobolin. We provide a specialised physiotherapy service and therefore attract clients from out of the area as our services are not available in these towns. The infrastructure simply does not exist in NSW for these people to leave their cars at home.

  31. While we do support the upgrade of the Orange CBD and the Future City concept, we do not feel that the current proposal for Lords Place South is appropriate and may be more suitable to another area of the CBD.


The staff report to councillors acknowledged that “much of the feedback [was] related to parking” and said in response: “It is proposed that a consultant be engaged to develop options to minimise or offset the impact of the draft parking changes”.


Orange City Council.


These could include “possible changes to time limits in the Ophir Car Park; possible changes to time limits in nearby streets; options for short stay parking of 5, 10 or 15 minutes.”





Under the heading of “Further Considerations”, the report to council stated that with regards to “risk categories”: “The current difficulty around sourcing contractors and delivering value for money projects is a risk factor in the project.”


Under the subheading of “reputation” it stated: “As can be seen from the engagement to date there are varying views on how this project should proceed. It is likely that some of the feedback Council receives will be polar opposites … While the stakeholders in the precinct have been given an opportunity to share their views, the exhibition period will be an opportunity for the wider community.”


Gary Blowes said that although the changes wouldn’t impact his business, he felt for a number of businesses on the strip, including the the Golden Bowl and Alfio’s, which rely on customers and drivers to be able to duck in and collect takeaway or home delivery.



He said businesses were starting to get back on their feet and uncertainty over disruption to the road during development and diminishing parking spots wasn’t beneficial.




Council staff are recommending to councillors that the concept plan be exhibited for community feedback from August 17-31.



A community forum will be held on August 25 at 6.30pm in the Civic Centre. The Orange Your Say is also open for comment from August 17-31.


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