Revitalisation at what cost?

August 10, 2017

Maude St's intersection with Vaughan St (pictured) and Rowe St which occupy two sides of Coles are the site of traffic congestion.

To miss out on central business district revitalisation funding once is disappointing; to miss out twice is disheartening.

But to miss out three times must be a sign that the door may be, for whatever reason, closed on that particular avenue of federal financial support.

If the $6million plan to revitalise the southern end of Maude St is to go ahead in its present form, there seems no other solution than to fund the proposal out of council coffers, potentially in a stripped-back form, or through other avenues.

This is also likely to push out timelines.

Council must now weigh up the value that such a re-design of the Vaughan St area would bring to the city.

As with all urban planning schemes, there is the question of what commercial gains would be made for business and industry through proposed changes.

Then, equally as important, but less measurable, is the ‘‘liveability’’ gains to be made.

The southern end of Maude St and its intersection with Rowe and Vaughan Sts has been a problematic area for years.

The area is dominated by Coles and Kmart supermarkets with high pedestrian traffic on Vaughan St and difficult access for trucks at the rear of the building in Rowe St.

Congestion problems are compounded with the bus stops along Maude St leading to the roundabout.

The Vaughan St redevelopment, completed in 2014 and rebranded as Vaughan Central, cost an estimated $27.4million.

There is no doubt the changes have improved access and safety for vehicles and shoppers, but there is still a bottle neck at the roundabout.

The council plan to create a new bus interchange facility and deliver much-need public toilets would, in our opinion, greatly increase the area’s social and economic value.

It would also complete the final piece in the Vaughan St improvement jigsaw.

Extending improvements north along Maude St towards High St would seem to be less necessary if it means spending over budget.

However, the question remains as to the social and economic value of the Vaughan St improvements.

Are they worth $6million?

And what are the reasons for what locally has been labelled a priority project being overlooked three times?

This answer will likely come as the council unpacks its application and feedback received to assess steps forward.

Rate-capping has its positive side — as evidenced by the recent rate notices delivered to our letterboxes.

But it also means councils are seemingly going to need to rely more and more on federal and state funding channels to fund projects like this one. If they don’t wish to compromise on scale, or wait.

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