November 4th, 2020Hepburn Shire ready for Melburnians’ return
The plan, which will be in place from Friday, November 6, will see parking on the east and west sides of Vincent Street (south of the pedestrian crossing) repurposed to allow pedestrians to use this space. North of the pedestrian crossing will stay open to ensure access to services, provide loading zones and accessible parking and a taxi rank.
The speed limit will also be reduced to 20 km/h along Vincent Street to make it as safe as possible for pedestrians.
There are also escalation plans if more room is needed for physical distancing, which sees further changes – from making Vincent Street a one-way street to completely closing the street as the last step to ensure the safety of all.
“Businesses along Vincent Street have been consulted and the majority are supportive of the plan, and we will continue to check in with them to make sure our plan is doing what we expect it to do – slow the traffic, give pedestrians the space needed to maintain physical distancing and allow our hospitality businesses to use the outdoor space for dining,” Hepburn Shire Council CEO Evan King said.
Mr King said the council had been working closely with businesses and agencies to ensure plans are in place to keep the community and visitors safe.
“We know our shire is one of the most popular destinations in the State, and keeping our community safe is our top priority,” Mr King said.
“Over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend last June, Daylesford in particular was heaving with visitors wanting to experience the best of our shire.
“We saw that the footpaths on Vincent Street were not wide enough to cope with the pedestrian traffic and allow physical distancing at the same time, and that will be the case again, especially with businesses being encouraged to use footpaths for outdoor dining.
“To keep our community safe, we have devised a plan for dealing with potentially large crowds and consulted with the businesses along Vincent Street as well as with Victoria Police, Central Highlands Rural Health, Daylesford Macedon Tourism and the Department of Health and Human Services.
“We published that plan on our website a month ago and visited in person and surveyed our affected businesses to get as much feedback as we can. We heard their thoughts and have taken on board their feedback to produce the best plan possible.
“This feedback has resulted in a plan which balances the needs of our local businesses with the need to make Vincent Street as safe as possible for everyone.”
Council is also boosting cleaning and the number of bins on Vincent Street, Mr King said.
“We will have extra cleaners working the street at busy times and extra bins out as we know there will be extra takeaway being sold.
“There will also be extra signage along the street to remind everyone of their responsibility to be COVID-safe.
“We need everyone to remember the rules – maintain physical distancing, wear a mask, stay home if you are unwell – as these help us all stay safe.”
Mr King said the council would also be monitoring Trentham to ensure pedestrian safety and had a traffic management plan ready to implement should it be needed.
“Trentham has wider footpaths and less on-street dining, so while it does get busy, our feeling and the feedback we have received from the businesses there is that it will be manageable. That said, we will keep a close eye on it and do what we need to do to ensure the safety of pedestrians.
Creswick and Clunes
“We have also considered the needs of Creswick and Clunes and while we don’t anticipate the congestion we see in Daylesford to occur there, we will be monitoring how the return of visitors impacts their main streets and consider changes if there needs to be any.”
Daylesford Macedon Tourism CEO Steve Wroe said the natural attractions, amazing accommodation and great restaurants and cafes were what made Hepburn Shire’s towns and villages attractive to visitors.
“Our shire’s appeal to visitors, combined with unprecedented pent-up demand coming out of Melbourne, means that a proactive approach to people and traffic management is essential as restrictions ease.
“We expect visitation to well exceed what we would normally see this time of year, likely several thousand people per week more than normal.
“We want to preserve our reputation as Melbourne’s favourite getaway spot, and ensure that the visitor experience is great, our community feels safe, and our businesses are able to trade in a safe, efficient, and profitable way.”
Words: Donna Kelly