By Andrew Cantwell
Sweeping changes to activate and revitalise Pakenham’s Main Street will be possible under bold plans to be released for public comment in the new financial year.
Old Pakenham won’t know itself if the bulk of the plans are realised over the next 20 years, as the former country town catches up with the modern suburbs growing around it.
On the cards are a greater commercial and residential mix, a multi-level streetscape, improved public transport, better pedestrian and bicycle access, ‘gateway’ treatments for key access roads, and a desire to enhance the livability and culture of Main Street.
Cardinia councillors endorsed the draft plans for central Pakenham at their meeting on Monday 20 May. They include a Pakenham Structure Plan, Urban Design Framework and Activity Centre Zone.
They will now go before State Planning Minister Richard Wynne for initial approvals, before being placed on public exhibition in July and August.
The plans affect most of the properties between McGregor Road and Racecourse Road, and the Princes Highway and Bald Hill Road, with particular emphasis on retail and public use spaces.
Speaking about the draft plans on Thursday of last week, Central Ward councillor Michael Schilling said they laid out a 20-year vision for central Pakenham.
“With some vision we can reactivate Pakenham’s Main Street and turn it into a destination,” Cr Schilling said.
“This is about looking above and beyond what we currently have.”
The plans would, he said, guide private development and public investment, with the aim of making the town centre a bustling hub of activity and culture.
“People can say they want to go to Berwick or the city for a night out, but we want to get central Pakenham to the point where it can fulfil that role,” he said.
A tree-line boulevard, cycling paths, changed traffic flows, a possible Pakenham super-station and skyrail for commuters are all encompassed in the draft plans. The council has already resolved not to buy Bourke Park, leaving it free for any redevelopment of the station area by the State Government.
Aspects of the town’s history would also be recognised and given some protections under a new heritage overlay, as part of revisions to the planning scheme.
Cr Schilling said he hoped residents would embrace the plans when they are released for comment.
Businesses, particularly, should make themselves aware of what was to be permitted in the various precincts, so they could have their say and contribute to the renewed look and vibrancy of the town centre, he said.
Master plans were also being drawn up for the PB Ronald Reserve, which would play a significant role in the life of the community.
“We’ve got to get that right … it’s critical,” Cr Schilling said.
Cr Schilling said any change under the new plans would not happen tomorrow, and should not be rushed, but the plans would provide a framework for significant development over the next two decades.
The aim, he indicated, was to make central Pakenham a great place to live in and a great place to enjoy.