Planners tackle Horsham revamp
Horsham's heart might gain a multi-storey car park during a dramatic makeover of Firebrace Street and surrounds.
The idea was one of many thrown up at a public meeting aiming to mould a vision of the Horsham of the future.
A who's who of Firebrace Street traders filled Horsham Rural City Council chamber reception area and fed ideas to consultants working under the umbrella of TTM Consulting.
The mood of the forum was positive and optimistic but ratepayers went away feeling wary, sharply aware that the process of redesigning the city's hub had only just begun.
The broad vision will now be translated into plans by the planners before being reviewed again and again by the ratepayers and council.
The process might take years.
"You've flushed out the issues and allowed us to get on with it," TTM consultant Jim Higgs said.
Now we can prepare a vision for HorshamTTM consultant Jim Higgs
More than 70 people attended the forum and broke into three groups evaluating traffics and parking, business development and streetscape development.
Participants were free to contribute ideas and the one thing the entire crowd chorused was that businesses might live and die on the issue of parking - Firebrace Street could not afford parallel parking.
Other major concerns included:
- Ancient, high and dangerous gutters, dirty footpaths.
- Poor parking allocations and poor access to businesses for elderly and disabled people.
- Insufficient long-term parking, particularly for people working in the central business district.
- Street design leading to choking of traffic on busy days.
- Shifting the council depot in Selkirk Drive to include the land in a redevelopment of the former saleyards site.
- Halving the saleyards and council land to combine green belt and high-density housing areas or using part of the area for homes for elderly people.
- Building a multi-storey car park to provide all-day parking.
- Using low-maintenance public art or sculptures to replace roundabout flower beds.
- Enhancing the footpaths with paving, more seats, flower boxes and more-attractive bins.
Consultants Mr Higgs, Steve Sully from Planning By Design and Mark Sheppherd from David Lock Associates agreed Horsham boasted many strengths and suggested it was unique in country Victoria for its compact shopping district.
Retailing giant Harvey Norman would soon add clout.
The meeting acknowledged Horsham's status as a sponge city, expanding while towns in the region shrunk, and agreed developers should be mindful of its ageing population.
People agreed Firebrace Street thrived on its strong blend of specialty stores and the strong and easy movement of people between them and Horsham Plaza.
Horsham Rural City Council will pay for the initial consultations with a $30,000 State Government grant.
My Higgs, the former Australian Test leg-spinner, said grants might also help pay for future work.
"Part of our brief is to look at possible funding for works in public space," he said.
"That might come through the Department of Infrastructure's Pride of Place program or from Vicroads or council might choose other means."
Mr Higgs moved to allay fears businesses would be isolated for months while development work was underway by stressing shoppers would have access at all times.
"Say if we're replacing footpaths the area from the shop door to the kerb might be done on a Sunday and the path would be completed in two halves so there is always a half of the path available.
"It won't be completely painless but it's virtually impossible to do without the old no pain no gain."
The consultants are spending three days in the city walking the streets, observing traffic movements, assessing strengths and weaknesses and talking to people ranging from taxi drivers to council workers.