WODONGA Council is poised to abandon plans to close Hovell Street in the short-term.
Council will re-visit the contentious plan to shut the street between Lawrence Street and the entrance to the council carpark to create a major public open space between The Cube and Woodland Grove on Monday night.
A four-point staff recommendation contained in the council agenda paper released yesterday included the closure not proceeding “at this time” and a shared use zone between The Cube and Woodland Grove being created.
The recommendation also states an assessment of the value of the shared use zone and changes in the central Wodonga road network be carried out in 2014-15 to ultimately determine whether the Hovell Street closure goes ahead.
The council announced yesterday tenders were being called for an upgrade of Havelock Street and the re-alignment of Elgin Boulevard is also slated to take place this financial year.
The council’s revised position on Hovell Street has been met with subdued enthusiasm among those who have fought the closure for the last three months.
Don’t Close Hovell Street committee member Kieran Mahony said last night it was too early to be declaring victory over city hall.
“It is very much talking about an interim approach,” he said.
“The boom gate is down, but it certainly hasn’t been locked in any concrete fashion.
“It looks as though they have re-appraised their earlier position and if so we respect that and thank them for listening to the valid concerns in the community.
“Any future evaluation we would expect a thorough and independent analysis of impacts on business.”
Applying the brakes to a project which had $1.4 million earmarked this financial year is a backdown of sorts from the council which voted 5-2 in favour of going ahead with the closure.
The report to be considered by council on Monday night was prepared by chief executive Patience Harrington.
“The proposed closure can support increased visitation to the area that will act as an anchor and balances an increase in development that is occurring in the northern end of the central business area,” she wrote.
“Utilising the project as an opportunity to harness and focus community and visitor interest and engagement in the southern end of the central business area has the potential to support economic and social benefits long term.”