BUSINESS: Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey (right) with 88 Limestone St developer James Long.
BUSINESS: Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey (right) with 88 Limestone St developer James Long. David Nielsen

Council's venture into retail industry worries businesses

BUSINESSPEOPLE in Ipswich have raised concerns about how far Ipswich City Council has become involved in the region's retail industry.

The council's direction for the Ipswich Central Business District has been questioned by several of the city's key commercial operators.

In an email seen by the QT, business leaders have proposed an advisory board be established to ask questions of the Ipswich CBD development.

Representatives from Ipswich's most prominent businesses, including Riverlink and 88 Limestone St, have advised the council they would be willing to form an advisory group.

The businesspeople disagree Ipswich City Council should be developing commercial retail or food and beverage spaces.

A spokesman for Riverlink, which has more than 100 speciality stores and more than 1500 staff, said boundaries needed to be set for the project.

"We are supportive of a project to rejuvenate the CBD to build a new library and council chambers," he said.

"We wouldn't support any council that tries to delve into dining and retail in any shape or form.

"It not the business that the council should be involved in."

Owner of 88 Limestone St, which contains Pumpyard and 4 Hearts Brewing, James Long, was supportive of a redeveloped mall but said "the whole concept of putting food and beverages into the CBD is flawed".

In an email to Acting Mayor Wayne Wendt, Mr Long said concept images showing a commercial brewery in the CBD was disappointing.

"I am a firm believer in free markets and the like and I am happy to compete against any other commercial brewery using conventional landlord rents, but to use ratepayers' money to subsidise direct competitors to existing Ipswich businesses seems inappropriate," he said.

Mr Long has also called on the council to make public a report from food consultants Brain and Poulter that supposedly shows food and beverage spaces will be viable.

Ipswich City Council did not respond to questions about the business owners' concerns.