$200k for Gisborne town centre facelift

Gisborne’s busy town centre is set to undergo another major facelift, with the state government lending its support to a $367,000 project aimed at improving accessibility and increasing trade. Treasurer Tim Pallas was in Brantome Street on Tuesday to announce $200,000 to help revitalise the commercial area, with works to include landscaping, street furniture, footpath and drainage improvements. It comes a year after the completion of a $400,000 streetscape renewal project – including bluestone seating, speed humps, asphalt footpaths and tree pits – improved pedestrian safety on the other side of Brantome and Hamilton streets.

Macedon Ranges council and the Gisborne Region Events Activities and Tourism association (GREAT) will help deliver the latest project. Acknowledging that residents had ‘‘waited some time for this project’’, Mr Pallas said the upgrade would breathe life into a town that is becoming ‘‘very much a centrepiece’’ due to its proximity to Melbourne.

‘‘We know Gisborne is growing,’’ he said.

‘‘We can’t lose the quintessential character of this community.

‘‘It’s a quality I know many people have moved here to cherish and we have to preserve it.’’

Economic benefits

Mr Pallas said modelling showed the project would pump more than $730,000 into Gisborne businesses, creating 12 jobs during construction and supporting two full-time jobs thereafter.

‘‘[This project] will help to drive job creation, increase visitation and boost the local economy,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s money well spent for a community that deserves it.’’

Mayor Graham Hackett said the government’s support would enhance the retail precinct and make businesses more prominent, ‘‘ensuring they can prosper and grow’’.

The announcement comes weeks after Macedon Ranges council decided to write to the government, asking for help to deal with Gisborne’s population explosion.

Expressing fears that Gisborne turning into ‘‘another Sunbury’’ with a lack of adequate infrastructure and services, Cr Russell Mowatt suggested that expansion be halted until the government did more to address problems with things like car parking, roads and bus connections.

A settlement strategy adopted by the council in July 2011 estimated a Gisborne population of 14,700 by 2036. But the most recent council meeting heard that the town’s population had already passed 13,000.

Cr John Letchford said the latest funding injection was greatly needed.

‘‘As the treasurer has just said, Gisborne is in need of help with all the growth,’’ he said.

‘‘We certainly welcome it with open arms.’’

Originally published in Star Weekly

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