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Ballarat CBD strategy report card

MORE than two years after it was adopted, Ballarat City Council’s Central Business District strategy has had several hits, but also a few major misses.
Nanjing Night Net

Camp Street has been transformed into Alfred Deakin Place, the Bakery Hill entrance into Ballarat is undergoing a makeover, footpaths and street furniture throughout the CBD have been upgraded and public art pieces are dotted throughout the city.

But the controversial town hall plaza concept and a revamp of Armstrong Street North remain pipedreams due to funding difficulties.

When it was first launched in May 2010, the strategy’s immediate actions included appointing a CBD manager, developing a town hall plaza concept, updating the car parking strategy, Sturt Street footpath works, Bridge Mall lighting and furniture upgrades, a reconfiguration of Armstrong Street North, stage one of the Mair Street upgrade, creation of upper level development guidelines and the expansion of the heritage grants/verandas project.

So what has been achieved in those 27 months?

CBD place manager Anthony Schreenan was appointed in 2010 to oversee the strategy’s implementation.

And the town hall plaza concept was developed, which would see Armstrong Street South closed off between the Ballarat Town Hall and Myer for an open air “civic heart”.

But mayor Mark Harris said a lack of state and federal funding had stalled the project.

“Council undertook detailed consultation around the design, and that work stands,” Cr Harris said.

“In order for the project to proceed, however, there is a requirement for $3.5 million in external funding to be sourced.

“Both state and federal governments do not currently have funding programs that would fund a project of this nature.”

The car parking strategy was adopted last December and Sturt Street footpath works have all been completed between Doveton Street and Grenville Street.

Street furniture upgrades have all been done, the Bridge Mall playground has been upgraded and the Bridge Mall CCTV program has also been set up.

But the reconfiguration of Armstrong Street North is still waiting on $650,000 of funding.

The project involves new footpaths, a central median and removal of the centre road parking and above-ground power lines, with angle parking to be installed instead.

“The project had originally been planned to be supported via a combination of council funds and a grants program for the undergrounding of power lines funded by the state government,” Cr Harris said.

“This program is not available and therefore council has delayed this project while an additional $650,000 in funding is secured.”

Upper level development guidelines – encouraging living above CBD shops – have been in place since June last year and the heritage grants program has been significantly expanded.

Public toilets have also been upgraded, projectors have been installed to beam images onto the Town Hall, the Sturt Street trees are being lit up at night, the Farmers Market has been relocated to the Bridge Mall, more CCTV cameras have been set up and a revamp of Main Road is planned for this financial year.

A railway station precinct masterplan project is also under way in conjunction with the Department of Transport.

However, the Mair Street upgrade is currently at a stalemate between the council and VicRoads over the sticking point of off-street parking.

Overall, the CBD Strategy gets a solid pass mark but some of its major elements – mainly road works – need to be delivered for it to be a true success story.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.