Frankston’s northern gateway, the Nepean Highway, urgently needs a major redesign, says one of the city’s leading advocacy groups. The Committee for Greater Frankston says improving the gateway is a keystone of revitalisation of Frankston’s CBD.
Committee CEO Ginevra Hosking said having a “people-friendly gateway precinct is the key to creating a main street of which our city can be proud”. “How the precinct looks and functions is strongly impacting on how people see the city’s commercial centre, and it is scaring off potential investors,” she said. “The vibe is wrong. It’s a bad look when you drive into Frankston and see boarded-up and empty premises. Our foreshore is great but the highway precinct isn’t a place where you would linger for a coffee.”
Ms Hosking said the highway gateway concept was a crucial project being discussed by Frankston City Council, Frankston Revitalisation Board, VicRoads and the committee. She said the highway would be transformed into a vibrant boulevard with wide footpaths, street furniture including flower boxes and artwork, off-street parking, and pop-up spaces for a variety of uses.
“The general concept has already received strong community support, with residents and enthusiastic candidates in the upcoming Frankston Council elections taking to social media to share their views.”
Ms Hosking said the highway precinct had been in decline for many years with businesses hampered by lack of parking for staff and customers, derelict buildings, narrow footpaths, and a lack of passing trade due to the “unwelcoming” nature of the precinct.
A key suggestion is removing dilapidated buildings, some of which have been empty for many years and are now targets for squatters, graffitists and antisocial behaviour.
Ms Hosking said renewal would enable residents and visitors to “reclaim the precinct”. “Imagine a summer’s day with the family at the nearby beach and then strolling up to get an ice cream or a snack, and later going for an early dinner.”
She said many community members were disappointed Frankston Council and VicRoads could not agree on a 2014 proposal to improve Nepean Highway’s streetscape, which came with $1 million of state funding for proposed roadworks.
“We as a community have the chance to fast-track this project. We’re calling on election candidates to declare their support for a signature project to renew the city’s gateway in the lead-up to the late October election. Then we want those elected to get behind the initiative and push hard. Our fast-growing health, business and education precinct is reinvigorating the CBD and it’s time to show this proudly to the rest of Melbourne.”
Ideas from residents, shoppers and visitors posted on social media include: free parking for short-term and low cost for all-day; “imagine the precinct looking like Main St, Mornington, or Seaford Village with wide footpaths, colourful garden beds, cafes and boutiques”; shops selling clothing and shoes; trendy bars for nightlife; and good street lighting and street art.
You can share your ideas by completing a survey at www.C4GF.com.au or by emailing them to info@C4GF.com.au
Mike Hast is a freelance writer for the Committee for Greater Frankston and a former editor of Peninsula newspapers.