Opinion

How do we reinvent our CBD?

by
January 04, 2018

What does the CBD really need, to have the best chance of optimal reinvention? And I don’t mean just trying to beat the satellite conglomerate shopping centres — they are clearly here to stay worldwide.

What does the CBD really need, to have the best chance of optimal reinvention? And I don’t mean just trying to beat the satellite conglomerate shopping centres — they are clearly here to stay worldwide.

How does council facilitate improvement?

Mainly through infrastructure — it can’t direct tenancies, trading hours and retail mixes.

Parking?

Certainly more of it needed, better regulated and higher time-priced in prime locations — all net income to be ploughed back into parking infrastructure.

We have to get through traffic out of the central business district — east-west (High St) and north-south (Wyndham St), the former the more difficult.

Easy one first, ultimately largely a non-issue when (and if) we get funding for the full Monty — Arcadia west to Congupna.

Already many heavy transports use the inadequate Doyles-Grahamvale Rds Alternative Route, but we nearly have finished the logical north-south-west internal CBD bypass — Sobroan St-Knight St via Welsford St — all we need is traffic-calming devices (roundabouts and chicanes) on Wyndham, except at High St. Surely a project we all should be heavily promoting — already 80 per cent there.

Diverting the CBD bit of the Midland Hwy is another kettle of fish, particularly via Ford Rd.

Authorities should expect a full-scale donnybrook from neighbouring residents who built there wanting a safe and noise-free existence.

Finishing the CBD Welsford St bypass is the priority for any prospect of CBD recovery.

False news

There is an old kids’ game, of British origin, called, probably not politically correct, Chinese whispers — originally a fun pastime in which a message is distorted by being passed around in a whisper.

A similar more dangerous activity, freely demonstrated by social media, seems to have gained currency reporting a council issue — this time focused on the voting on a proposal to conduct a ‘‘free’’ timed Shepparton CBD parking trial, whatever that may be.

You start by publishing a significant mistake and see how it catches on.

Never mind accuracy.

What was the original misinformation?

Well, in the Boxing Day edition of the local weekly free advertising journal, seemingly editorially predisposed to supporting ‘‘free’’ timed CBD parking (parking administration imposts are transferred from the user motorist to the ratepayers), under the banner headline ‘‘Shepparton’s free parking trial trashed’’, in green print under the sub-heading ‘‘Councillors who voted free, timed parking trial’’ it named only two councillors, Adem and Sutton — wrongly leaving Cr Oroszvary out.

Then under councillors who opposed the trial it wrongly named Cr Oroszvary and as well wrongly named Cr Abdullah, who was an absent apology, being reportedly more than 10000km away. The true vote count against was 3-5 — definitely not 2-7 as a News somewhat biased correspondent then assumed to be correct.

Why in the public council comment arena can’t we confuse some people with the facts? Tough call.

Green health

Ross Gittens (The Age, December 27) writes thoughtfully about ‘‘biophilia, that humans have an innate tendency to seek connection to nature, for its calming effects’’.

Expanding, he canvasses that ‘‘research shows that city dwellers have a 20 per cent higher chance of suffering anxiety and an almost 40 per cent greater likelihood of developing depression’’, also showing ‘‘that exposure to nature increases calm and rumination, decreases agitation and aggression, and improves concentration, memory and creative thought’’. Worth a read.

Using the term ‘‘city’’ in a broader sense, how do Shepparton, Mooroopna and Tatura stack up in the urban green spaces stakes?

Well overall, l would say, but we should not be too complacent.

On the credit side, Mooroopna-Shepparton starts off well in front with natural, remnant red gum forest in abundance while Tatura has, through community foresight, hard-work and conviction, developed the impressive Cussen Park as its green anchor.

Smaller towns are blessed with natural green assets, such as Murchison, while others have planted their vegetative contributions.

Council has commendably adopted an Urban Forest Strategy and we need to hook into it, not forgetting the mall in particular and the CBD generally — the health benefits are there to source in Gittens’ article.

Shepparton’s John Gray has vast experience in local government, urban water reform and natural resource management.

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