Mainstreet a great success

Article image - Mainstreet a great success

Organisers of the 2007 Mainstreet conference held in March introduced an innovative format with the first day of the conference being staged in the City of Geelong, while the remaining two days were held at the conference centre at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Delegates took the one hour train trip to Geelong, Victoria’s largest regional centre with its attractive water front and retail precinct.

Some 470 delegates heard from a range of international and local presenters, and had the choice of a variety of workshops and field trips.

Conference Co Chair, Councillor Claude Ullin, said that a key theme was that suburban shopping strips are able compete with major shopping complexes so long as they are attractive, clean, safe and offer a great shopping experience.

“The conference was an outstanding success and we were delighted with the attendance,” Councillor Ullin said. “We were congratulated by many of our international keynote speakers who said that this was one of the best conferences they had attended and that they had learned as much from us as they had imparted in their presentations.”

Chief Executive Officer of the UK Association of Town Centre Management, Simon Quin, said that it is vital to develop a game plan for the successful evolution of town centres. He said this must be over the longer term, pointing to Reading in the UK which had a 14 year action plan to deliver a stunning new waterfront retail centre.

Simon Quin said that across Europe there are some 1,100 Town Centre Managements with budgets varying in Australian dollar equivalent from $75,000 to $10 million.

“To develop a successful game plan you must first really understand your centre,” he said. “Look at how is it performing in relation to other similar centres. A particular issue may be affecting all centres not just yours. Next is the prognosis, what is going to happen to your centre in the next few years and, moreover, what might happen if you do nothing!”

He said that high level stakeholder involvement is vital. In the UK, Prime Minister Tony Blair was bought on board and supported the course recognising a network of successful town centres contribute to sustainable communities and is vital to the economic wellbeing of regions.