No one presently lives in the mall and so, once the shops close, save the movie theatre in East Walk, the city’s heart stops beating.
I have a rather idyllic view of how it would be – I see families living above, or behind, every store, and in the evenings the mall, which had been alive with shoppers all day, would be equally alive in the evenings with locals socialising, children playing and the pulse of life stores arouse during the day would continue into the night bringing life, and with it, safety.
The entire mall is zoned Commercial One, but with the appropriate encouragement, living areas could be created. Immediately I can hear those of a mercenary nature crying about the cost of integrating living areas with an expensive Commercial One zone, but it is those very living areas that bring life, vitality and, importantly, safety to a mall that is near deserted as darkness descends.
The key word is integration ñ if those who live and understand urban design, and so the workings and life of cities, are invited to be involved they will ensure a workable blend, enabling the community to become vital and strong as it grows. The rating structure for residential areas in the Commercial One zone need to be considered by the Council to make the creation of a living community in the mall financially feasible.
Cities of any size find their health, zest and well-being in communities, from small groups of neighbours who band together to those of larger and more diverse areas that have a common interest underpinning their ambitions. The City of Greater Shepparton is nothing more, or less, than a patch-work of communities and now we need to work at adding another, based on our Maude Street Mall.