A new action plan will guide the City of Greater Bendigo as it seeks to get more people, more often into the city centre.
Mayor Cr Andrea Metcalf said the new Hargreaves Mall Action Plan 2023-2026 aimed to propel business attraction and ensure the city centre, particularly Hargreaves Mall, again became a destination of choice for businesses, residents and visitors.
“The City will deliver a number of actions over three years to turn the city centre around. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, current cost of living pressures and the changing nature of retail, the organisation will be taking a more direct approach to create a more vibrant and inviting city centre,” Cr Metcalf said.
“Traditionally, the City’s role in the context of Hargreaves Mall and the broader city centre is the maintenance and appearance of public areas and engagement with stakeholders, mainly traders, landlords, support services and Victoria Police. It does not own any shops and has no say on which businesses landlords lease their shops to.
“However, Council repeatedly hears complaints about the city centre. There is no one ‘silver bullet’ solution but the adopted plan’s multi-pronged approach targeting event activation, improved cleanliness, landscaping and changes to physical infrastructure, appointment of a Business Attraction Broker to attract businesses to the city centre and improved stakeholder engagement provides renewed guidance on improving the city centre.
“Where there are people en-masse shopping, dining out or attending events, we don’t see anti-social behaviour occurring. Hargreaves Mall is the perfect space to accommodate events, it has a big screen, the necessary equipment for people to run a PA system or for a band to play, and is blocked off to traffic meaning people can move around safely.
“Once you take that away, there is no bringing it back. Consistently there are calls to put a road through the Mall but this won’t fix the current problems if we don’t have the right balance of retail, hospitality and entertainment on offer that sets the city centre up as a destination of choice.
“In three years’ time, if there has been no shift in how the city centre presents and after a sustained and dedicated effort to create positive change, then I expect Council will need to engage with the community about what further action and more permanent change may look like.”
The Hargreaves Mall Action Plan 2023-2026 features 10 short-term actions and four medium-term actions, including:
Short term, within 1 year
- Remove pop up park and replace with new landscaped area including shade trees, seating and tables
- Increase cleaning services in Hargreaves Mall
- Increase funding for the activation of public spaces to enable more events to be held to attract people into the city centre
- Engage a specialist Business Attraction Broker to identify gaps in the retail and hospitality sector, and then target specific businesses
- Continue working with Myer to explore opportunities that reinforce the role of the department store as a city centre anchor tenant
- Restart a targeted Expression of Interest process for micro tenancy activation of the two repurposed lantern structures in Hargreaves Mall
- Establish formal city centre stakeholder groups to work collaboratively to focus on social issues
- Develop marketing collateral/branding for the Bendigo city centre
- Update the wayfinding signs at either end of the Mall and at key locations across the city centre to reflect changes such location of Law Courts and Galkangu – Bendigo GovHub, ensuring signs present positively from an accessibility perspective
Medium-term, within 1-3 years
- Reconfigure elements of the bus waiting facility in Hargreaves Mall to continue to offer seating but focus the visual connection to Mitchell Street
- Continue to advocate for reinstating three bus stops along Mitchell Street to reduce clustering in a single location
- Continue to advocate for changes to the bus network to improve accessibility across the city centre utilising both Mitchell Street and Chapel Street
- Continue making the city centre an easy place to move around on foot for people of all ages and abilities