ROBERTSON St's days of being the Naracoorte town centre's poor cousin could soon be over.
Naracoorte Lucindale Council has commissioned concept plans for a facelift for Naracoorte's "third main street" - and now the community is being asked to comment.
Urban designer Bill Chandler presented three options for upgrading Robertson St to the council's January meeting on Tuesday night, after which councillors agreed to send the ideas to public consultation.
The most basic option suggested was a facelift involving planting trees and other aesthetic touches, while the most involved option would require advanced works and would result in a reduction of available car parks along Robertson St from 135 to 92.
Mr Chandler based his suggestions on a brief from the council that Robertson St would need significant work in coming years, including resealing, stormwater drainage improvements, renewed footpaths and kerbing, upgraded lighting and improved traffic control.
The council's director of planning, environment and community development Steve Bourne said there was an "opportunity for ongoing work" on Robertson St, fitting in with the already planned stormwater upgrades to the CBD.
Any planned modification would be done in stages rather than in a "one-hit" upgrade.
The council has also looked into undergrounding powerlines, which led to the Essential Services Commission of SA advising that streetscape concept plans needed to be done before it would consider the project for funding.
Introducing Mr Chandler at Tuesday night's meeting, Mr Bourne said improving Robertson St would help the council work towards its ongoing aim to "create and maintain a vibrant retail hub in the centre of Naracoorte".
"Robertson St is very much a third main street in Naracoorte," he said. "You come out of Woolworths and you see the backs of shops, it's remarkably unattractive."
Mr Chandler said the concept options should be looked at as works in progress and were by no means final plans.
"Have a think about it, and then invite the community to be involved," he urged councillors.
Mr Chandler said any improvements to Robertson St should be done to complement the main street, Smith St, not to detract from it.
"(Robertson St) is a very major street in terms of its connectivity to your town centre," he said.
"(But) you don't want to shift the image of the town centre hub from that area along the middle of Smith St (the town squares) to Robertson St.
"Encourage people with pedestrian and cycling access points, and if it's attractive enough, people will park and walk between various shops."
Mr Chandler presented three options, adding that option one could be completed and then have all or some of options two and three added at any time.
Option 1 - No shift in kerbing or parking, mainly focussing on strategically planting trees for aesthetics and shade. Paint pedestrian crossings across Robertson St aligned with the two alleyways linking Robertson and Smith Sts. Bike lanes along the length of the street.
Option 2 - All of option one, plus "intersection treatments" at three intersections along Robertson St involving paving and protuberances - resulting in the loss of some parking spaces - plus enhancing the pedestrian crossings in option one.
Option 3 - The "bells and whistles" option.
All of options one and two, plus more protuberances, possibly exploring outdoor dining and better exposure for businesses whose rear entrances face Robertson St. While this would reduce parking spaces from 135 to 92, Mr Chandler said it would produce a true "streetscape environment", and when motorists turned into the street it would cause a "Gee, something else is going on here" response.
Council CEO Helen Macdonald said the potential opening of more shopfronts on Robertson St would "increase retail value" in the CBD.
She stressed the concept was still very much up in the air.
"It's definitely not a fait accompli," she said.
There was only a small amount of discussion on the proposal among councillors at Tuesday night's meeting..
Cr Ken Schultz commented that Mr Chandler's plans hadn't mentioned RV vehicles, which the town was trying to attract more of, and losing car parking spaces in the town centre wouldn't help.
Cr Ken Banning said if Robertson St was improved it might encourage some central business owners to focus their efforts on that street rather than Smith St, particularly because there wasn't a lot of parking available in the main street.
Cr Malcolm McLean was concerned at the drainage impact planting more leafy trees along the street would have, while Cr Ann Bell didn't want to lose more parking spaces in the same way Mount Gambier did when its main street had protuberances installed.
Cr John Flynn felt if improvements to Robertson St meant it wasn't as accessible to service vehicles going to and from the rear of main street businesses, it would increase pressure on loading zones and parking in the town centre.
Councillors voted 7-2 in favour of passing the concepts on to public consultation, with only Crs Banning and McLean voting against because they wanted to see some financial estimates before moving forward.
The council's next step is the important community consultation stage where it can verify whether the upgrade is what the community wants.
"We'll give the community options," Dr Macdonald said.
The council is working with the business and tourism association and plans to have Mr Chandler return to the town to make a presentation in the Naracoorte Town Hall.
Plans will be left up for townspeople to make submissions on and Dr Macdonald also suggested a more face-to-face approach to consultation.
"People communicate more when they are speaking rather than in writing," she said.
Depending on the results of community feedback, the initial concept plan may be implemented soon - possibly starting with more complete designs.
"The 2013-14 budget may have aspects of this concept plan," Dr Macdonald said. "If it fits in with other things."