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Council staff meet on streetscape upgrade

Thursday 13 July

East Gippsland Shire Council staff recently met with members of the Orbost and District Chamber of Commerce and the Orbost Beautification Committee to discuss the Orbost Streetscape Upgrade.


Construction of Stage One began in May following consultation with the community, traders, and stakeholders to develop the project design.


Chamber Secretary Garry Squires facilitated a meeting with council staff to discuss both the consultation to date and to investigate if there was still opportunity to reconsider some design elements.


All groups at the meeting acknowledged the project will provide significant pedestrian safety and accessibility upgrades to the street.


Council’s Director Community and Strategic Development Kate Nelson explained that in a project such as streetscape upgrades there were many differing opinions that often conflicted with each other.


“The council officer’s job is to work with landscape design experts and other council staff with appropriate experience and qualifications to review the feedback and work out what was possible to achieve,” Ms Nelson said.


One of the areas where there was the most variation in views was over some of the tree species selected.


Ms Nelson said the trees selected meet a number of goals including giving the street some greenery all year, a variety of leaf and flower colour, shade and interest.


“The trees also need to be easy to maintain. The species considered for Nicholson Street changed several times during the design phase, based on the feedback of both residents and council’s Parks and Gardens team. The final species selected were a mix of Smooth-barked apple myrtle; Kanooka (water gum); Crepe myrtle ‘Tuscarora’, and Manchurian Pear,” Ms Nelson said.


The Orbost Beautification Committee don’t consider the Kanooka to be a good enough tree for the main street and have instead suggested the use of another evergreen tree being one of the four varieties of Magnolia Grandifolia; (‘Little Gem’, ‘St Mary’, ‘Exmouth’, ‘Alta’).


Council staff will investigate this tree and consider incorporating it into the overall plantings if it’s found to be suitable and also acceptable to the broader community.


Ms Nelson said despite some differences in the views about which trees to plant, the project is an enormous boost to Orbost.


“Investment in streetscape upgrades have a proven economic benefit. In nearby Paynesville, when streetscape works were undertaken in 2014, 50 per cent of the local traders reported an increase in their business turnover,” Ms Nelson said.


Council staff also took on board feedback regarding its consultation methods.


Some sections of the upgrade will soon reach completion stage. The works will be finalised before Christmas.


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