‘Option 4a’ agreed on for Maude St Mall

By James Bennett

“Let's move on and get this done.”

That was the relieved sentiment from Councillor Shelley Sutton as her Greater Shepparton City Council colleagues unanimously adopted what is expected to be the final design plan for the Maude St Mall redevelopment.

Mayor Seema Abdullah said ‘Option 4a’ allowed slow-moving traffic from Fryers St to High St, retention of trees, more than 40 parking spaces and less disruption for traders during the construction phase.

Cr Abdullah said the community consultation with traders and Shepparton Chamber of Commerce and Industry helped guide council to adjust its design.

Part of the push to allow last-minute changes came from the Federal Government's recent $8.57 million boost to the project.

Cr Abdullah said the final cost of the redevelopment was being calculated, but predicted it would surpass the previous $17 million price tag.

Cr Chris Hazelman predicted further debate of the "pros and cons" of the designs.

“For the first time ever there is some money on the table, and 8.5 million reasons gives the good basis for the compromise and positional changes that have occurred in recent times,” he said.

“There is an opportunity for everyone to get something out of this. The traders are clearly indicating that passing traffic is an essential ingredient to their business; they point to Fryers St to that regard.”

Deputy Mayor Dinny Adem said the end result came after consultation with major stakeholders.

“While it will never please everybody in the municipality, I think it's probably the best compromise and best option we could have delivered,” he said.

Cr Bruce Giovanetti said the traders had told council through-traffic was "the way to go".

“When it's all said and done, all traders want is an environment that will attract customers to their shops, and council wants new businesses in the mall.

“I agree with the mall having slow-moving traffic with 40-plus parks.”

In a rare opportunity to provide an opinion, chief executive Peter Harriott said debate had to end if the redevelopment was to proceed.

“We must be focused from this point on to deliver this project,” he said.

“We must stay with what we adopt tonight (Tuesday). I heard comments during the debate tonight about potential to shift alignments but we have an agreed alignment and that has been represented in ‘Option 4a'.

“I cannot afford to have major debate going forward."

'Option 4’ included through traffic from Fryers St to Stewart St and removing more trees in the precinct.

The only person not to vote was Cr Kim O'Keeffe, who declared a conflict of interest.