HORSHAM is positioning itself as a vibrant, vital regional hub that will attract and serve residents, business, industry and tourists, with a bold 20-year concept plan in the making.
Horsham Rural City Council chief executive Sunil Bhalla said the council would be shortlisting a consultant to develop the four-component plan after September 5 when tenders closed.
He said the concept plan and vision for the Wimmera River precinct and Horsham Central Activities District was about revitalising the river and CAD for the long-term future of Horsham as the centre for the Wimmera and southern Mallee.
“I’m really excited. I think it’s a great opportunity,” Mr Bhalla said. “What’s good for Horsham is good for the whole region.”
He arrived in Horsham to take his position about five months ago and is enthusiastic about the potential for Horsham to grow and attract more business, jobs, residents and tourists in the future.
The project brief states that the council wants “to take a leadership role in attracting public and private sector interest (and investment) and provide a clear vision and action plan to grow jobs and the economy of Horsham Rural City Council.
“This project is to develop an Overarching Concept Plan and Vision for the River Precinct and Horsham Central Activities District (CAD).
“The project will build on the completed extensive existing economic development and strategic planning strategies.
“These studies seek to establish Horsham as Regional City with extensive influence and service provision to approximately 60,000 persons across the broader Wimmera Southern Mallee region of Victoria.”
A key part of the brief is to develop a branding and communications strategy for council to use in attracting investment from private and public investors to implement the vision.
The area being focused on for the plan is the Central Activities District, down to the Wimmera River Precinct between the Horsham CAD and the Wimmera River taking in the Horsham Botanic Gardens, Horsham Riverside Caravan Park, Sawyer Park, Horsham City Oval, Horsham Aquatic Centre, Horsham Showgrounds and Greyhound Racing Fields, Horsham Velodrome and Horsham Basketball Stadium.
The consultant will need to address four components of the plan. They are: strategic needs and opportunities analysis for Horsham; overarching concept plan and vision for the River Precinct/ Horsham CAD; action and implementation plan for the River Precinct/ Horsham CAD; project branding and communications strategy.
Mayor Pam Clarke is looking forward to seeing the plan take shape and then implemented.
“We need to connect these two assets and make sure it is all working together,” she said. “The river attracts people; it is a beautiful asset and we need to make the most of it.”
She is keen to see a seamless flow of people going between the CAD and the river precinct.
The plan will be finished in March next year.