The future of Daylesford’s central business district is dividing opinion in the popular tourist town.
The town centre needs to function as the main social and trading place for the local community, but also as an attractive and welcoming place for visitors.
The Daylesford Streetscape Revitalisation Strategy highlights this, but are all sectors of the community satisfied with the outcome?
Not according to Daylesford Traders Association (DTA) chairperson John Goullet.
Mr Goullet said more than 60 representatives of Daylesford traders were determined to revoke the strategy, which would see the number of car parking spaces reduced, a second pedestrian crossing and six to 10 trees planted in Vincent Street.
Stated in the strategy is the fact that Daylesford is in a time of transition where “the built environment and streetscape design can play a vital role in enhancing an authentic local experience for both residents and visitors”.
But Mr Goullet said the DTA was concerned about the economic effect of replacing car parking spaces with trees.
“Ninty-nine per cent of traders are opposed to this streetscape plan,” he said.
“We can beautify the street without trees down the middle and the loss of car parking and the last thing we need is a second pedestrian crossing. The movement of traffic through the town weekends is snail pace and imagine what it would be like now – a car park.”
Other initiatives endorsed under the streetscape strategy include revitalising Daylesford’s laneways and reinstating an historic horse trough in Burke Square.
Hepburn Shire Council initiated the Daylesford Streetscape Revitalisation Project as part of its council plan and engaged consultants Village Well to work with stakeholders on the project.
The council has $275,000 to implement the first stage of the strategy, while the cost of all the works would be more than $1 million. Mr Goullet said the DTA had its own ambitions for Vincent Street.
“We want the surface of the road and the footpaths renewed, above anything else,” he said.
The DTA has scheduled a meeting for Thursday and Mr Goullet said the group would take an active interest in next month’s local government elections.
For or against the streetscape strategy, the voters of Hepburn could find it becomes a hot election issue.