Green light for civic centre

PLANS FOR FUTURE: The Somerset Civic Centre will include an auditorium with stage, dressing rooms, multi-function rooms and amenities.
PLANS FOR FUTURE: The Somerset Civic Centre will include an auditorium with stage, dressing rooms, multi-function rooms and amenities.

THE void left by the burning down of the 101-year-old Lyceum Hall in Esk last year is set to be filled with the help of a $2 million commitment from the Federal Government's Regional Development Fund.

Construction of the $4 million Somerset Civic Centre is set to include a 1600sq m, 350 seat centre to be built in the central town of Esk.

Somerset Regional Mayor Graeme Lehmann said the application for funding noted the potential to use the centre as a disaster evacuation centre.

"Somerset is statistically the fastest growing local authority in southern Queensland with growth rates of 4.5% and 4.2% over the past two financial years and no doubt this was a consideration in the government choosing to support this project," Cr Lehmann said.

"Somerset Civic Centre will be very much appreciated by the whole community and this announcement follows months of extensive consultation by council with the community, including local artists and cultural groups.

"Somerset Civic Centre will enhance the liveability of the region attracting new residents and new business investment and employment opportunities," he said.

The construction period will be about 30 weeks subject to weather conditions, with finalisation anticipated in July 2012.

Federal Member for Blair, Shayne Neumann said the plan would be a great addition for the Somerset region.

"It's going to be a 350 seat building and will rival the Civic Centre in Ipswich," he said.

"Since the loss of the Lyceum Hall, people in Esk and the other towns in the Somerset had nowhere to go and no where to have the functions that happen in small communities.

"This will be that space and will be great for the economic development of the Somerset."

Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean said the Federal Government would invest $150 million in 35 projects worth almost $418 million in the first stage of the five year regional funding program.

"I congratulate the successful local government and not-for-profit organisations for their strong submissions and commitment to long term growth and liveability in their communities," Mr Crean said.

"We challenged communities to develop creative proposals that stacked up, effectively leveraged other funding and sustained the economic and social future of their regions."

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