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Sunday, December 2, 2012

A business bypass for Drysdale?

2013 will be a crucial year for DCSCA's campaign for a Drysdale bypass. The state government funds bypasses and in 2013 all sides in state politics will be preparing for the state elections in 2014, in which the seat of Bellarine - which includes Drysdale & Clifton Springs - is likely to be a marginal seat. Consequently, the major parties will be especially keen to grant local voters' requests - including a Drysdale bypass! (In the 2010 state election, Ms Lisa Neville [ALP] held the seat by just 2.74% after preferences.)

Despite the growing support for a Drysdale bypass, it won't necessarily - and by itself - improve the quality of life in the town. Indeed, as it takes away traffic, a bypass could also take away trade and weaken the local economy. However, DCSCA has said consistently that with careful planning and preparation, a bypass could both relieve traffic and boost local businesses. To start that planning and preparation, we need to understand how bypasses affect small towns; and we need to see the bypass as part of local economic development.

Understanding how bypasses affect small towns
There isn't much research online about how bypasses affect small towns and what there is comes mostly from the USA. With that it mind, the research shows that Drysdale can grasp the benefits of a bypass and avoid the threats if it takes some simple practical steps:
  • A town with a distinct, attractive identity is likely to find that it becomes more attractive to visitors as the bypass reduces its through traffic.
  • A town with good road signage can counter drivers' tendency to stay on major roads - including a bypass.
  • A town with a bypass has better links to major roads, stimulating adjacent industrial growth, with positive 'knock on' benefits to local businesses.
  • A town is less likely to suffer economically from a bypass if its economy is strong, if it is an existing trade centre and if its local government has an appropriate economic development strategy.

Seeing the bypass as part of local economic development
In the City of Greater Geelong's 'Structure Plan for Drysdale & Clifton Springs', economic development consists of opening some more shops and a couple of motels. However, shops and motels won't offer local people the high-skill, high-wage careers that currently attract them to Geelong or Melbourne. Further, the council's plan to massively expand the Leopold shopping centre may threaten the future of Drysdale's existing shops, let alone any new ones.

DCSCA regards a Drysdale bypass as part of a broader alternative vision of economic development in the north Bellarine. That vision is centred on a new light industrial precinct in Murradoc Road, to be created in three stages:
1. Open up the area north of Murradoc Road for commercial development by creating new access roads into it.
2. Extend Murradoc Road's existing 'business/industrial' zoning eastwards to Clarendon Road.
3. Create tree-lined service roads on the north and south verges of Murradoc Road to offer easier delivery access, plus imaginative outdoor dining and performance spaces to attract pedestrians and effectively extend the centre of Drysdale eastwards.

Such a new precinct would offer new businesses easy access to major roads via the proposed Drysdale bypass, which will cross Murradoc Road near Clarendon Road; and business trade to and from Melbourne on the proposed Portarlington ferry wouldn't be delayed in a congested Drysdale High Street. The outcome would be a greater diversity and quality of jobs than the council's Structure Plan could ever offer; and the positive 'knock on' effects of the growth in light industry would be within the grasp of local businesses.

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