By Colin MacGillivray

MITCHELL Shire Council has forged ahead with plans for a rejuvenation of Kilmore’s Sydney Street, incorporating community feedback on the project to select a colour scheme and branding design.

Based on the results of a council survey and written submissions, the updated streetscape will feature a Prussian blue heritage colour scheme for external furnishings such as light poles, bollards and street furniture, while town branding of ‘1841’ will be used for street banners.

The planned $3.37 million rejuvenation project was announced in July, with plans to reshape the streetscape with new traffic islands and bus stops, more trees and heritage-inspired branding, as well as designs and historical information displays.

Some Sydney Street traders expressed hope the project would entice more pedestrian traffic to the area, while others had misgivings about the removal of 34 on-street car parking spaces.

Continued heavy traffic through the centre of Kilmore and no progress on the Kilmore bypass were also concerns, with some suggesting it would be hard to increase pedestrian traffic in the centre of town under such conditions.

At last week’s ordinary council meeting councillors noted community concerns but were largely in favour of the project.

Cr Nathan Clark said the loss of 34 on-street car parks would be offset by the addition of off-street parking, resulting in a net gain. He said short-term limits on parking spaces on the main street would also help to free spots.

He said Kilmore’s main street was in dire need of a facelift.

“Kilmore needs a main street which demonstrates daily liveability in a 30,000-person town – you’ve got to think way down into the future here,” he said.

“When you consider the population growth of Kilmore over the last decade, Kilmore has been continuously losing street parking per capita as the population has grown.

“The next two decades will see significant growth in the west and the south-east. In order to preserve the ratio of Sydney Street car-parking spaces, we would have to duplicate Sydney Street four more times, and that’s just not possible.

“The answer to the problem is having a walkable main street with good accessibility for those who need it, and increases in nearby parking.”

Crs Bill Chisholm and Louise Bannister said they shared concerns about the removal of on-street parking but supported the rejuvenation because of the opportunity to complete the works with State Government money.

“We have state grant money for a rejuvenation project, and if we don’t use that money it will go towards another project somewhere else or into the abyss somewhere,” Cr Bannister said.

“We don’t have the ability to decide to put it towards something else such as the bypass, and I would rather it be spent in our shire than somewhere else.”

Cr Chisholm said council would continue its advocacy for the State Government to commence work on the bypass.

“[Sydney Street] needs a facelift and hopefully the community and the business owners can come on board and do their part, because it’s not just a council responsibility to lift the general standard in that street,” he said.

“The big question though, and the one that the community really needs to help … is to get the Kilmore-Wallan bypass back on the political agenda because it has just dropped off and it needs everyone working towards that goal.”

Cr Bob Cornish was the sole councillor to vote against endorsing the design concepts.

He said the removal of car parks had ‘become an issue’.

“If within the next two years we were to have these additional car-parking spaces as part of the plan I’d have no problem with it, but this could be more than just one or two years,” he said.

“I don’t know whether there are any additional contact with the shopkeepers and traders explaining the whole idea further as to why the car-parking spaces will be removed.

“I don’t know if that would help the situation or not, but I know that some people feel the car parking was not made clear enough to them.”

Cr Annie Goble said undertaking the project could help prompt the government to act on the bypass.

“This project is being developed with the additional important factor that the speed limit through the main street is going to be reduced to 40kmh,” she said.

“The added outstands will possibly produce a choke for the traffic, which in some ways is advantageous to the community.

“Logistics companies and truck drivers, with the main street reduced to 40kmh and the slow process of taking trucks through the main street, will give us an enormous advantage, because they will lobby the State Government for a bypass.

“We will get them onside and hopefully, together with the community, there will be a really concerted effort to push for the bypass.”