Time to bite the Mall bullet

August 12, 2017

A decision, and some progress on what to do with the Maude St Mall, appears to be ever closer.

A decision, and some progress on what to do with the Maude St Mall, appears to be ever closer.

A Special Council Meeting for Greater Shepparton City Council has been called for the Tuesday after next to award a contract to a group to draw up the designs and costings of four future mall options.

Those being, a full reopening to traffic, a partial reopening to traffic, improving the space with urban design initiatives, and the contentious proposed trial reopening.

For now, the only decision being made is who will undertake this work.

A final decision on which of these four options appeals the most isn’t likely to be made until November.

It seems like a fair bit of analysis will need to take place between now and then.

As it stands, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence in favour of any of these options.

But that’s what the process of tendering out for these designs seems to be all about.

Getting all the facts, price tags, artist’s projections done to make a more informed decision.

The council has indicated that before any decisions or alterations are made, further consultation will likely take place.

During question time at last month’s council meeting, the question was posed: is it Council’s intention to randomly telephone survey (or face-to-face) a statistically viable group of the general public as to their views?

The response that came back detailed that once the concept designs sought had been received for each option, they would be presented to Council for consideration.

‘‘At this time, Council will decide how to proceed including the form of any public consultation for further feedback,’’ the response said.

The form it will take isn’t yet finalised.

But a public survey, targeted stakeholder engagement and information sessions with ‘‘face-to-face consultation on the concepts’’ appears likely.

The response continued: ‘‘It is envisaged that the consultation will be held in a similar format to the most recent Mall Activation Consultation which included:

●Stakeholder briefings;

●Public information sessions;

●Online survey; and

●On-site consultation location.

This seems to amount to the same consultation on the same items the community has had its say on in the past year. No clear consensus was found. It’s thus difficult to know whether any different outcome will result from further consultation on options.

Everyone understands there’s no silver bullet for the mall.

Surely the question of what specifically needs to be improved about the mall should be the first question to answer.

One senses in an absence of new results and consensus during consultation, demonstrating a standout preferred option, a ‘bite the bullet’ moment might arrive.

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