Mirboo North could have been a most beautiful small town located strategically between Warragul, Morwell, Leongatha and the general area – the lifestyle could have been the envy of most Victorians.
Thirty years ago the CEO at the time rang me to ask what he should do with the township.
He presumably was in need of ideas and support. I, very surprised, remarked, “You have already done it”. “Done what?” he said.
I replied, “You have presided over the thrashing of the town scape with the plastic and aluminium shop front windows”.
About 15 years ago two consultants arrived in town seeking the local people’s desires for the town.
The queue was impressively long but the lack of sensible ideas had bored the visitors.
However, when I produced my comprehensive and illustrated proposals, the individual remarked; “Now that’s what we need”.
Unfortunately I heard no more about my suggestion and as far as I am aware little change resulted. I regret not keeping a copy of the plan, it would be useful now.
It was my belief that the traffic should be directed away from the main street. The main road would become part of the park. The shops would sensibly provide parking at the back of their establishments and the customers would filter through to the parade in front through decorative passage ways.
In my dreaming mode, I imagined close by residents riding into town on horse and buggy, tying up to hitching rails then having coffee with friends whilst shopping and generally developing a community spirit.
That of course requires intelligent and responsible planning. Interestingly, when in town the other day I noticed new posts around the open space alongside the police station.
Talking to the local real estate people I learn that the plot had been purchased by distant Hastings residents, “outsiders”, and they are applying for planning permission for three new shops.
No doubt the new owners expect to sell the property with permits for a gratifying profit.
What a sad society this is – “One step forward and two steps backwards”.
I discussed the question with a senior planning person.
His response was predictable but he also remarked, “If we don’t agree to the permit, the applicant will just go to VCAT and you of all people know what that means”. Yes, he is right. I do know, but what an attitude. There should still be a strong rational decision making process.
The Mirboo North public should consider what “They” need for “Their Town”.
Do they like thundering traffic along the main street, ugly and garish shops, a dominating and completely visionless police presence smack in the middle of town and greed directed developments about to arrive, or would they prefer a creative strategy with people involvement that leads to a more stimulating, satisfying and even more profitable future?
The senior planner informed me that the residents of the town would soon be consulted about their preference. I trust no destructive decisions will be made in the meantime.
Either way, the people should be more demanding and proactive.
The business people, the clubs and the elders in the community should draw up their own plans, arrange public debate and present their findings to the shire.
“She’ll be right” will no longer be acceptable. Your future must be in your hands, make your voice heard.
Ron Brown, Turtons Creek.