By Colin MacGillivray
The project aims to inject life into Kilmore’s centre by adding trees and pedestrian islands while emphasising the town’s heritage.
While some traders have expressed hope the plan will entice pedestrian traffic along Sydney Street, others have criticised the removal of 34 on-street parking spaces proposed by the plan.
Alan Wilson, who owns properties at 33, 35 and 37 Sydney Street, including Wilson Partners Real Estate, said the plan would exacerbate the problem of parking in the town.
“There are some major issues for developers when they want to come in on the main street. One of the big issues is parking,” he said.
“The issue we’re having at the moment is that there is no car parking, and with less on-street car parking, developers coming in won’t be able to best optimise their properties.
“It means that any people who want to develop in the area have to provide private car parking accessibility on the site and more of it, because the main street parking has been removed.”
Rose King, who owns 39 Sydney Street, said she did not share Mr Wilson’s concerns.
Ms King said as a member of Kilmore Historical Society she was ‘definitely in favour’ of the plan’s aim to emphasise the historical aspects of the town.
“The historical society, along with other community groups, were invited to have some input,” she said.
“We did like the concepts that were presented, so I’m looking forward to seeing them actually finalised so that the public can look at it.
“We liked the overall colour scheme, which is quite sympathetic to the bluestone and timber looks.
“We also liked the concept of the paver stories very much. There’ll maybe be a dozen words to describe the location that they’re placed in, which we like because it’s probably going to be largely historical content.”
Ms King said she did not believe parking would be an issue.
“I know a lot of people believe that parking is terrible in Kilmore, but the reality is that there is a lot of off-street parking,” she said.
“It’s all relative, because if you’re in Melbourne and you get a park within two blocks of where you want to go you think you’re doing well. Here, if people have to park just down the street from where they want to go they think we’ve got a parking problem.
“In saying that, we are a town with older people and mobility is an issue for some of them, so I can understand it might create some issues for older people who feel the parking is not adequate for them.”
Mr Wilson said the relocation of a disabled parking space at the front of his property was a concern.
“If council come along, removing the handicapped parking from the main street – where do people park?” he said.
But Ms King said council needed to do something to attract pedestrians back to the main street.
“I hope it does attract people to the centre of town, because Kilmore needs all the help it can get. I think there are too many people who own buildings on the main street who have let them run down,” she said.
“At the moment there isn’t really anything that jumps out at people to say ‘stop, come and have a look’, so hopefully the streetscape rejuvenation will address that to some extent.”
Several members of the public expressed scepticism the plan would be effective until a Kilmore bypass was built, but Ms King said council could not wait until it was completed.
“I think it’s good to be planning for the future. The bypass will happen one day, but how long it takes is another matter altogether,” she said.
“I think it’s sensible to be factoring that in for any work that is done in the main street.”
People can view council’s Sydney Street rejuvenation plans and provide input by visiting engagingmitchellshire.com/kilmore-rejuvenation-2021.