Debate continues over ‘dying’ precinct’s future
By Nadia Surace
SAFETY in Shepparton’s Maude Street Mall has improved significantly say Shepparton Police and mall traders after teen violence and antisocial behaviour concerns were flagged earlier this year.
“We have caught the majority of perpetrators responsible for incidents occurring mostly on Friday evenings,” Shepparton Police Service Area Manager, Inspector Ian Bull said.
But some retailers maintain that regardless, they want the precinct opened to traffic.
They say it should be re-developed to drive foot traffic into the area now “almost dead”.
“I doubt that majority of shops would be operating at a profit,” one of the traders said who wish to remain anonymous.
Their calls come less than a week after Greater Shepparton City Council approved a free parking trial for the city’s central business district next month, in order to help revive consumer activity in the area.
“Shops in the mall have been closing hand-over-fist in recent years,” Cr Milvan Muto said when the trial’s motion was passed at last week’s Council meeting.
“We’ve got to give these kinds of things a go.”
The retailers say, it’s a good idea but it isn’t enough.
They give evidence of other regional centres in Australia where malls have been successfully re-developed, malls including Coff’s Harbour’s High Street Mall.
The note on of the Council’s reports which states: ‘Since the opening of High Street, various traders have reported increases between 50 and 100 per cent on trading figures… There has been an increase in the value of properties (up to 30 per cent) with a marked increase in development activities. Up to $7.5 million worth of property have been sold and purchased with up to 18 shops being leased during and since the construction period’.
City of Greater Shepparton Mayor, Geoff Dobson visited Coff’s Harbour Mall last month to assess the city’s move.
He says he did not see enough evidence that opening Shepparton’s mall would improve business activity in the area.
“It would be of no use to open up the mall only to find that it doesn’t work,’ he said.
“Three people to every one in Shepparton want the mall to stay. We have no plans to open it.
“But I’m more than happy to talk to these traders who do not want to be named about the issue at any time.”
Insp Bull also noted he believes opening the mall to traffic would not improve safety in the area.
“A few hundred metres down Maude Street near McDonald’s and Coles, we’ve got the same problems, actually it’s worse there, and there the street it open to traffic,” he said.