With the prospect of a 12 month disruption and a $20 million dollar expenditure, the needs and ultimate design of the Maude Street Mall needs to have input from those that are most likely to be affected.
The design being mooted by Council has the hallmarks of being more of an active play and entertainment centre rather than acting as a catalyst to enhance the dynamics of commercial prosperity.
While it is appropriate that some area be set aside for these occasional events, one only has to look at how the Mall is used today to reason that spending $20 million on channeling walkways and investing in questionable architecture art is any more likely to bring people to the precinct than the existing, what a number of people have said, bland design.
According to Shepparton Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, John Anderson, the Mall needs to address the needs of the business community who regularly use it as well as the community who like safe open space, and this is where the Chamber can help a lot as its members are directly affected but for this to happen, they must be properly consulted.
The Chamber proposal is to create a treed avenue and reintroduce one way traffic with parking on either side. The expanded sidewalks would open up to outdoor cafes and food courts in the same way the Council is seeking to expand the service area in Fryers Street.
“Fraser Street, including under the tower should be set aside for the town square and entertainment and play areas. This would offer a lot more to the community with excellent passive and open spaces,” John said. “The Chamber’s vision is to replicate the success of Fryers Street. Outside the Village Cinema should also be passive space with no through traffic.”
The Mall could and in fact should, become the business centre the city so needs. It is not a park. It is not an activities centre. Its purpose is a trading and business centre that has all but died because of poor planning and management.
Retailer, Shane Sali said, “The only way the Mall will become successful is if we attract new businesses to it. The community is always seeking reasons to visit the Mall, we now have an opportunity to do that, but the current design, I see it pushing more businesses out of the Mall.” The Fryers Street model is what success looks like.”
In the recent parking resolution, the Council questioned the loss of revenue they might incur if they introduce free on-street parking yet in this scenario, they are proposing to spend the income from the next thirty years of parking fees to develop a poorly designed precinct.
Is this what the City wants its legacy to be?