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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Local people plan central Drysdale

On June 18 and 23, the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) ran two information and consultation sessions at Drysdale's Senior Citizens centre to gauge local reaction to its Draft Drysdale Urban Development Framework (DDUDF).

Each two-hour session attracted around fifty local people. Consulting stakeholders and incorporating their views is essential to the development of an Urban Design Framework, which combines a strategic plan for an area with detailed/practical designs for the plan's implementation. The Draft Drysdale Urban Development Framework is a result of an 'Enquiry by Design' process - two days of consultation with local people (including DCSCA representatives) in December 2011 and the subsequent consultants' report. CoGG received the consultants' report in Febuary 2012 and published its DDUDF in June 2012.

Consistent concerns
The June meetings showed that local people have consistent concerns about their town's future. Not everyone at these meetings had attended the December consultations, but nonetheless the concerns expressed on the three occasions were very similar. People are concerned that heavy traffic is spoiling the town's character and heritage. They pointed out that concentration of services at the town's centre means that as it expands, it's less possible for people to walk to and from the town centre; and in the absence of swift and convenient public transport (e.g. a 'smart' bus service), people have no option but to drive into town. Increasing traffic increases the demand for parking space and while new developments (e.g. Drysdale's new Aldi supermarket) must include some car parking, this isn't enough to compensate for Drysdale's growing role as a shopping centre for the north Bellarine.

The Draft Framework proposes to alleviate traffic stress by making the High Street-Murradoc Road roundabout into a traffic light-controlled junction and diffusing traffic away from it by creating new linking roads (e.g. between Collins Street and Murradoc Road); and it proposes to make Murradoc Road more attractive by, for example, creating a service road in front of the current light industrial units, landscaping both sides of the road, installing proper footpaths and encouraging 'al fresco' dining near Aldi. The Framework seeks to retain Drysdale's heritage and character as a rural village and to enhance it through sensitive placement of street furniture, public art and indigenous plants. It also proposes imaginative improvements to the town, such as creating a permanent Farmers' Market between the side entrance of the Safeways complex and the shops opposite; and making any expansion of Safeways contingent on the development of a 'civic centre' that would face the green - but not encroach on it; and ensuring that new buildings face their streets, not back onto them.

Deadline extended
Several people were concerned at the short period of time in which people could submit their views on the DDUDF to the council. The deadline is 29 June and while this is a month after CoGG published the document, it's only a week or so after the information sessions. In response, the CoGG officers extended the deadline by two weeks to 13 July.

... and the Drysdale bypass??
The council had asked the 'Enquiry by Design' consultants to create a draft 'Masterplan' for the town centre, thereby excluding any consideration of the proposed Drysdale bypass. However, during the December consultations, local people insisted that any discussion about the town centre must include the issue of the bypass; and people at the June meetings saw a bleak future for Drysdale's town centre unless a bypass removes some of its through traffic.

A Drysdale bypass would relieve traffic congestion and increase pedestrian safety. Further, a bypass linked with the eastern end of Murradoc Road would improve transport links to Geelong and Melbourne, make that part of town more attractive to new businesses. This would boost the local economy, stemming the flow of wealth and talent from our town and preventing it from becoming just a 'dormitory town' for Geelong and Melbourne.

Many of those at the meetings wanted to be part of the DCSCA-led campaign for a Drysdale bypass and heard that DCSCA will contact them about the campaign so far and how they can help.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Lake Lorne path - just months away!

Work on Stage One of the long-awaited footpath around Lake Lorne in Drysdale is scheduled to start in July and last for about six weeks.

On Friday 8 June, representatives of DCSCA and the Drysdale Pony Club joined City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) officers and consultants to mark out the final route of Stage One of the footpath, which will stretch from the Pony Club jumps off Reserve Road round the lake's western side to a point just before the Bellarine rail line. Stage Two will continue the footpath past the rail station and will include a boardwalk looking eastwards towards the islands in the lake; and Stage Three will complete the circuit on the Lake's eastern side. The council has yet to allocate money for Stages Two and Three.

CoGG will inform residents with properties near the Lake about the work before it starts; and on the route of Stage One it will post a plan of the area showing the route of the whole path, so that everyone can seen just what's happening. These actions will continue the council's excellent record of consultation around this project, driven by the particular officer in charge. On many occasions, DCSCA has criticised the council's consultation process and has cited the Lake Lorne consultations as an example of just how easy - and effective - it can be to involve local people meaningfully in council decisions.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The future of Drysdale - have your say!

The City of Greater Geelong is inviting public comment by 29 June 2012 on its draft Urban Design Framework for Drysdale Town Centre.

The draft Framework explores the potential growth of the town centre, its look and feel and its accessibility to pedestrians and vehicles.

Getting it right this time?
The draft Framework is the result of a very positive two-day consultation with local people last year. A previous 'consultation' exercise about the future of the town centre was criticized heavily by participants - including DCSCA - for ignoring local people's views. It would be nice to think that the council learned something in the process.

Copies of the draft Framework are available from the council's Customer Service Centre in Hancock Street, Drysdale and at the council's web site:

Information sessions
Council officers will hold two informal information sessions to introduce the plan and hear locals' reactions to it. These sessions will be at the Drysdale Senior Citizens Club, 2-8 Wyndham Street, Drysdale:
Monday 18 June 2012 4.30 - 6.30pm
Saturday 23 June 2012 10am – 12pm

If you can't attend either session, have a look at the draft Framework and tell the council what you think of it. If DCSCA can help, just ask us.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bellarine ferry service needs a bypass

State Planning Minister Matthew Guy has widened a feasibility study into a Werribee to Melbourne ferry to include stops at Geelong and Portarlington.

His decision followed a call by Bellarine state MP Lisa Neville to include Portarlington in the study and it also reflects five years of lobbying by the Portarlington Ferry Group.

DCSCA supports the call for a Portarlington ferry service, but until the Drysdale bypass is built, vehicles heading to and from the ferry will just add to the congestion in Drysdale High Street.

As DCSCA President Doug Carson wrote in a recent letter to the Geelong Advertiser: 'Imagine trying to get through the three roundabouts in Drysdale to catch the ferry, particularly between 7.30 and 8.30 on any weekday morning. However, if we had that Drysdale bypass …'