VIEW ON THE CBD
Am I concerned? You bet. My concern relates to the continuing push to reopen the mall to slow moving traffic. We have heard from several of those mall retailers who give the impression that they own the mall. I remind those people that the mall was built for the community so it is our mall.
A very well known developer, who has been prominent in the development of central Shepparton, also bought into the debate. He has developed a shopping centre in Kialla that will eventually have a negative impact on Shepparton’s retail centre so I am not sure of his motive.
We are all aware of the growth of online shopping that is affecting the traditional walk-in outlet and this is not going to diminish. Just the opposite. I believe that online shopping is only two percent of the total retail trade in Australia. If this figure is correct then we are facing massive retail disruption once this figure reaches ten percent and more!
As for introducing slow moving cars through the mall in order to increase shopping in the mall I fail to see how this can happen. I invite those who support this concept to sit in the Fraser Street mall where up to 25 cars can park and observe how many of the occupants head into the mall to do their shopping. My survey found … not many! Cars moving through Wyndham and High Streets are still driving past empty shops. Okay so what to do? There you go, I have made my points but I do not have a definitive answer.
However I have Googled several successful malls. My favourite is Curitiba in Brazil. About two million plus people live in Curitiba and this city is now a model in how cities should develop. This has not happened overnight as the revamping of this city had it start back in 1970. Obviously I cannot spend time on Curitiba except to say that eighty percent of the central workers now travel into the city by a ‘state of the art’ bus system that removed seventy percent of the cars from the city. This meant several of the roadways became extensive pedestrian only streets.
On a much smaller scale Shepparton could do something similar once we have a bypass that removes highway traffic from the central city. Imagine a mall that includes Maude Street down to Vaughan Street and includes Fryers, Wyndham and High Streets. Ambitious? You betcha! Impossible? Never! Can Shepparton do this? Of course it can. We are always whinging about the loss of our wonderful post office but we never seem to talk about the forward looking people who achieved that building when Shepparton’s population was tiny. Remember the start to the former Rodney Shire’s Kids Playground (still growing) and our much loved International Village. Great ideas and effort to develop these. So what next? We hold onto our mall with some improvements and plan for a bigger role once our highways are removed and, we persevere!
AN EASY SOLUTION
Empty shops and poor trading is not isolated to Maude Street Mall. There are many empty shops throughout Shepparton CBD, which includes High Street, Wyndham Street and including Maude Street south of High Street intersection. All of these locations have traffic moving along the street, it has not increased spending! Fraser Street adjoining the mall has been open to slow moving traffic and parking for some years with little benefit if any to local traders in the mall!
Nobody is denying competition is great with online shopping taking away from local businesses, plus free open air weekly markets and of course the big drawcard has disappeared from the CBD – (The Butcher, The Baker, Continental Deli, Fairley’s supermarket have now all gone from the centre of Shepparton)!
- Greater Shepparton City Council has crucified trade in the hub of Shepparton with their revenue raising parking meters.
- Council provide the opportunity for community members to come along and voice their views at public meetings; however feedback provided by ratepayers, business owners etc. still falls on deaf ears. Council is not taking notice of the concerns public raise! Council is employed by us the ratepayer, we deserve to be heard, we deserve to have our rates spent wisely and not wasted on makeshift fixes such as pop up gardens in the existing mall!
- Out of town consultation services are a total waste of funds. Local input is required for an accurate ‘finger on the pulse’ of what is actually happening within the City of Greater Shepparton. Do I need to remind council what happened with the consultation process regarding the new bus shelters around town a couple of years ago? They ended up being placed a block away from designated bus stops and then at ratepayer’s expense relocated.
- Everyone likes to shop at a leisurely pace, enjoy a meal, sit and chat over a cup of coffee, without the added expense of a parking ticket. Take a look at the full car-parks at Big W, Riverside Plaza, Safeway and Coles – all providing free parking where you can complete your weekly shopping in one location.
To encourage shoppers back to the CBD, do away with parking meters and go back to timed two hour parking. An easy solution, you do not need to be a rocket scientist to work this out!
Like many other locals, I drive to Benalla or Euroa for a day of leisurely shopping without the worry of parking meters.