Clifton Hill/North Fitzroy Community Bank® Branch
Over recent years‚ Bendigo Bank has attracted considerable attention in the financial services market with the successful implementation of its Community Bank® concept. The Community Bank® model taps in to a general dissatisfaction with the big four banks in terms of:
- Withdrawal of access to banking services as a result of large scale closures of both rural and suburban branches
- Perceived excessive profitability with little evidence of corporate social responsibility
- Poor customer service and indifferent customer care
The Community Bank® model was initially developed to meet the needs of rural communities‚ country towns that had been abandoned by the big four banks. Such communities‚ as a result of their relative isolation from city-based services‚ typically work together well in pursuit of their objectives‚ and adopted the Community Bank® concept enthusiastically and successfully.
In 2002 active members of the Clifton Hill community including subsequent inaugural Chairman Ian Mack‚ noted with concern the closure of one of the two remaining bank branches in the Clifton Hill/North Fitzroy shopping strips. This was the latest departure from an area where over eleven bank branches had previously existed‚ with four in Queens Parade alone. The success of the Elwood Community Bank® was noted and a request for information was made to Bendigo Bank.
Over the following two years a Steering Committee was established‚ and‚ with the help and support of Bendigo Bank‚ it:
- Defined an appropriate catchment area to host a Community Bank®
- Worked extensively within that community to raise awareness of the concept and attract support
- Secured funding support from the State Government and the City of Yarra
- Generated over 280 pledges of support totalling some $650‚000‚ that is‚ approximately $2‚300 per pledge.
- Conducted a Feasibility Study in October 2004‚ with 5‚890 surveys distributed‚ and 947 responses received – a 16% response rate.
Once the Committee received positive approval for its plans from Bendigo Bank‚ a Prospectus was issued inviting members of the community to formally subscribe for shares in Clifroy Ltd – the company formed to hold the banking franchise and operate the branch.
Almost 300 people in the local area subscribed for shares to a total value of $857‚000 – almost $100‚000 more than the minimum required to be able to go ahead. This again demonstrated the strong support for a Community Bank® that the Steering Committee had built up in the local community.
Premises were secured at 101 – 103 Queen’s Parade‚ Clifton Hill‚ and fitted out to the required corporate standard under Bendigo Bank supervision.
Staff were recruited and trained‚ and amid great celebrations the branch opened for business on Friday 10th February 2006.
The Clifton Hill & North Fitzroy catchment is situated approximately four kilometres northeast of Melbourne. The primary catchment area for the Community Bank® is bounded by Merri Creek on the east; St Georges Road on the west; Westgarth Street to the north; and Alexandra Parade / Eastern Freeway to the south.
The Clifton Hill/North Fitzroy area comprises the following:
- 12‚267 households comprising‚ on average‚ 2.2 people
- 300 retail businesses‚ located in Clifton Hill (39%) and St Georges Road (31%)
- 100 other businesses‚ mainly in service industries‚ with some limited industrial activity
Estimates sourced from Yarra City Council and ABS:
- Retail – Clifton Hill North Fitzroy 300‚
- Other commercial business 300
- Also note home based business is important in these areas
The main shopping strips of Queens Parade‚ St Georges Road‚ and Nicholson Street villages are well serviced by public transport. With trams routes No 86 running along Queens Parade‚ No 96 running along Nicholson Street and No 112 running along St Georges Road servicing the local business and retail villages within the catchment area. Also there are two railway lines with two railway stations‚ Clifton Hill being a major transport hub and interchange and the Rushall station in North Fitzroy. In addition train stations are located in the broader area nearby. Six bus routes operate within the Clifton Hill/North Fitzroy community have Heidelberg‚ Melbourne and LaTrobe Universities‚ Moonee Ponds‚ Garden City‚ Northland and Elsternwick as destinations. An estimated 30‚ 000 vehicles travel on Queens Parade each day. These transport options provide the area with significant passing trade.
The area is a destination for a range of shopping activities with the supermarket in St Georges Road attracting shoppers from both within and outside the catchment area. Queens Parade is developing into a “café / eatery / leisure” group of shops.
In relation to access to physical banking facilities on Queens Parade there is one National Australia Bank ATM and the Commonwealth Bank branch remains. Recently the Bank Of Melbourne’s ATM has been removed from the Queens Parade Village. All major banks are available in Smith Street‚ Collingwood and Nicholson Street‚ North Fitzroy is serviced only by the ANZ with the Commonwealth bank closing in July 2003.
The Clifton Hill/North Fitzroy community has a variety of socio-economic and ethnic origins. As a result of post-war immigration the solid core of long-term residents originate from Greece and Italy. There is also a transient population of students a group with which the Bendigo Bank has strong market success. With great access to parks‚ open space and the Yarra River Corridor the gentrification of the area has attracted young families and professionals. Currently the local kindergartens at experiencing large waiting lists and the three Primary Schools‚ Gold Street and Spensley Street in Clifton Hill and the North Fitzroy Primary Schools have experienced rapid growth over the past ten years. For example the Gold Street Primary School in Clifton Hill has tripled its intake over the past ten years.
The suburbs of Clifton Hill and North Fitzroy have historical significance in landscape‚ architecture and is rich in local history. Mr Clement Hodgkinson planned the streets of Clifton Hill and North Fitzroy in the Government subdivision of the 1860’s. Most buildings date from that time to the early twentieth century‚ with the majority being 1880s to 1890s. Heidelberg Road (now Queens Parade) predated the subdivision and has some earlier buildings. This heritage is highly valued by the community who are active in preserving it.
The Queens Parade shopping village and neighbouring residential area is located in a heritage overlay. Elm trees line the parade and date back to the 1890’s. The local street front Village of Clifton Hill and North Fitzroy also has significant heritage scape.
The vibrant and varied history of the area has resulted in a long-standing and strong sense of community identity‚ with healthy support for a wide range of community organisations. These include proud sporting bodies such as the Fitzroy Reds; deep rooted spiritual faith based and not for profit organizations. Many activity-based groups such as kindergartens and preschool‚ arts and cultural groups such as the Lieto Dance Group and resident action groups also add to the vibrancy of the Community.
It is important to note the 3068 Group‚ an active and vocal local community group that aims to protect the heritage of the local area. The 3068 Group saved the 1867 House of the Gentle Bunyip from demolition by organising the longest community picket in Australia’s history that continued over a period of twenty-four months. Another local group prevented the Kennett Government from selling the closed Fitzroy High school‚ and they have now reopened the school. This community is renowned for their commitment to community activisms and is regarded as a community of doors.
Substantial development and growth in employment has occurred in the local area. The main area of growth is in professional services. Over 80‚ 000 people are employed in the area of the City of Yarra; far more than the number residing in the local municipality. Importantly‚ these jobs are well paid. Significant new employers in the immediate vicinity include Computershare with more than1200 employees in Abbotsford (two minutes by car to the south)‚ and the leisure and sporting retail precinct in Smith Street (ten minutes on foot towards the City).
Other notable businesses in the area include a major manufacture of electrical goods Clipsal and Piedemontes the famous Italian local supermarket that attracts people from all over Melbourne. Additionally there are both secondary and primary schools‚ both public and private‚ in the primary catchment area with additional schools in the surrounding precincts. The community is well educated‚ articulate‚ and increasingly‚ affluent‚ with a long history of social conscience activism and a distinctly community focussed point of view. People in the local community are willing and able to use their knowledge‚ skills and resources collectively to challenge unpopular decisions and activities‚ and‚ more importantly in this case‚ to create and support initiatives that will benefit the broader community. Affordable and Public Housing is also evident in the precincts along Heidelberg Road‚ Noone Street and in precincts such as Jamieson Street and the House of the Gentle Bunyip.
The members of this community have demonstrated their support for the Clifton Hill/North Fitzroy Community Bank® over the past two years‚ appreciative of the Bendigo Bank’s positioning in providing “old-fashioned service” and the Community Bank’s intention to return benefits to the community as in line with their values.