MAFFRA retailers hope a $2.25 million facelift will improve the town’s street appeal and attract new businesses to the area.
Wellington Shire Council is developing draft plans and seeking feedback from the community for the Maffra Streetscape project, which relates to parking, the pedestrian crossing, treatment styles and other elements.
Maffra Business and Tourism Association president Marcus Stobie said the group had been consulting with the shire for several years about street improvements, and was excited that the idea was closer to becoming a reality.
Mr Stobie said Maffra was like many small country towns that struggled to retain and attract businesses, and there was a general feeling among retailers that making the town more appealing and improving parking and street amenities could bring people in.
“We’ve got about 13 empty shops here in Maffra, and we really want to reduce that within the next five years,” he said.
He said attracting speciality stores and “destination shops” like Turkish Magic in Stratford was one way the town could revitalise its retail precinct.
Mr Stobie said Maffra needed a unique approach because it had a rare, village-like streetscape that the community wanted to retain.
“We’ve been in consultation with the council for a few years about streetscape improvements, and we feel that one of the most important aspects of any work is that it is unique to Maffra,” he said.
“We want to keep the character that Maffra has, so things like materials have to be carefully considered.”
The association has some ambitious plans for the town, including hoping to eventually create a mini-mall in Purdy Lane, and implementing improvements that “stand the test of time”.
Some of these include angle parking and time restrictions in service lanes, revamping the rotunda, new seating and trees, and building retaining walls around gardens beds.
Shire mayor Carolyn Crossley said it was important to have an attractive main street to make a town a more vibrant and positive place to be.
“It helps to attract newcomers to an area, promotes a more active commercial centre and can encourage new business,” she said.
“I would encourage members of the community to come along to one of our drop-in sessions to learn more about the project and complete the survey so that we receive their comments and feedback to inform the development of the plan.”
The works will take place between Foster and Thompson Sts including areas in Pearson St adjacent to the post office and IGA, and in Foster St adjacent to the hall.
The redevelopment includes replacing path paving, kerb and channelling, improvements to the central pedestrian crossing, landscaping and other streetscape elements such as furniture, bins and signs.
Existing trees will not be removed.
Council will hosting two drop-in sessions — next Tuesday, September 19, from 10am to 1pm, and Saturday, September 23, from 10am to noon near the rotunda opposite Pearson St.
Staff will be there to answer questions and provide information.
Feedback can be provided by completing an online survey on the council’s website.
This will be available to complete from next Tuesday, September 19 until 5pm on Tuesday, October 17.
Council is also meeting with Maffra Business and Tourism Association representatives and other stakeholders to receive input into the project.
Mr Stobie said the association was happy to “be the conduit” between the community and the shire. “We’d like to hear from people too about what they want for the town,” he added.
A tender process will be undertaken early next year, with the works expected to begin mid-2018 and take about 12 months to complete.
For information, phone a member of council’s built and natural environment team on 1300 366 244.