St Albans Town Centre

St. Albans Town Centre is a local, main street shopping precinct located in the centre of the Brimbank Local Government Area. It is a pivotal community hub that is valued as a centre that people like to visit, shop and socialise in due to the colourful and dynamic multiplicity of cultures present. The St Albans Town Centre supports retail, commercial, recreational and community facilities.

The major features of the centre are that it:

  • is anchored by two supermarkets and a fresh food market
  • has an extensive range of convenience shopping facilities including culturally specific grocery stores, fresh food outlets, chemists, newsagents and personal and professional services
  • has many restaurants and cafes, predominantly Vietnamese and many European delis and cafes
  • has a generally limited range of high order shopping facilities such as clothing and footwear
  • has a broad range of community services

The activity centre draws from a wide catchment area and is considered to have a good mix of shops, an emerging retail food culture, and an extremely high occupancy rate. The precinct is also well served buy public transport and offers a unique selling position that needs to be capitalised on to achieve its maximum economic potential and be successful in the future. Melbourne is characterised by highly successful shopping strips including Acland Street, Chapel Street and Brunswick Street which have built their success by not competing with the larger centres but by offering an alternative shopping experience.

The centre needs to build on the existing multiplicity of cultures and the street life and vitality that the active community exudes. A successful St Albans of the future will build on the rich, dynamic and unpredictable experience founded on a permeable ‘main street' shopping experience.

The identity of St Albans is made of up the character of the place, the values of its community, its physical structure and its reputation. The identity was formed through the research of the St Albans Activity Centre Plan.

St Albans' place character can be described as a dynamic mosaic. As a place it consists of a multiplicity of ideas, businesses, cultures, relationships, stories and landscapes. The unique character of St Albans is manifested in the activity centre through the diversity of buildings, colours, textures, events and cultural influences. Like a mosaic, the many parts and aspects create a whole picture rather than competing against each other. The shadow of St Albans is its perception as an unsafe area, particularly at night.

Overall, the diverse range of people and cultures living together in St Albans creates a vibrant centre, where people from all over the world are welcomed. This migrant suburb is proud of its pioneering history and seeks to better itself through economic revitalisation and growth, community activities and involvement and physical improvements.

The physical structure of St Albans consists of predominantly single and two storey buildings. There is a mix of retail and commercial uses along four main intersecting streets. These streets can be categorised into precincts, each with their own character and uses:

  • Alfrieda Street : holds most of the Vietnamese restaurants and has acquired an ‘Asian feel'
  • Main Road East : holds a clustering of ethnic speciality stores and grocers and includes some Western franchises
  • Main Road West : dominated by larger grain government services and a small Balkan and European enclave
  • East Esplanade : mix of fresh food and specialty cultural stores

The role and function of the St Albans Town Centre is as a local, affordable service centre with a night time economy based around international restaurants.

The trading hours of the centre are typical of a busy and active local shopping centre. Businesses in St Albans have a variety of operating hours with many cafes and restaurants supporting a night time economy. Most grocery and specialty food shops shut by 5 or 6pm. IGA is open from 8am until 8:30pm and is open from 7am – 11pm. Several restaurants throughout St Albans are open every night until 10pm. Most bakeries close in the afternoon, at 1pm on Saturday and are closed on Sundays. Most services, real estate agents and commercial activities are open 9-5 or 5:30pm. Most hairdressers are open 9-5, later on Thursday and on Saturdays.

The future of the St Albans shopping precinct centres on its ability to capitalise on its unique selling position, and to celebrate its cultural diversity. An assessment of the retail and commercial offer of St Albans has identified characteristics of its unique selling point. The unique selling point of St Albans is its:

  • Multicultural food offer
  • Affordable, good quality cuisine and fresh food
  • Culturally specific, hard to find specialty stores
  • ‘Main street' shopping with unique character and vitality
  • Night time economy based on international cuisine
  • Alfresco dining and cafes which create a friendly atmosphere and community
  • Permeable street market atmosphere
  • Unpredictable experience