Every year I try to take some time to review my blogs and facebook posts to get a sense of the trends in our local suburbs and communities. And if I was to sum up 2015 in three words it would be these: engagement, activation and change.
My view is that across our vibrant, near city suburbs, residents have been saying that they’re not happy with perceived inaction, nepotism or the status quo and demanding more from their elected representatives and local councils. Along with skip bins, people want vibrant, active, sustainable communities and attractive places in which to live, work and play. And if they’re not seeing it come out of their councils, they’re starting the push for change themselves.
Facebook groups like the Baysie Rollers, Bayswater Collective, LACE Inc., North Perth Local and Inglewood on Beaufort, not to mention the ongoing work of the Beaufort Street Network, are leading the way in implementing initiatives to create stronger communities and activate spaces in their respective suburbs. There are also groups springing up around specific projects (We Love Margaret Reserve for example) and through engagement and consultation with local stakeholders, they are gathering ideas and formulating plans that provide quality direction and feedback to councils on community development and placemaking. The question is, will councils listen?
What to do with Beaufort Street…
Following its release for community consultation this year, I’ve become increasingly nervous about the the final version of the Beaufort Street Activity Corridor Plan which is due for publication and council voting in early 2016. Rather than resolving design issues with the strip, recent development applications point to a potentially significant shift in allowable development heights specifically on the Inglewood section of Beaufort St. If approved, these could dramatically alter its current form and result in a visually aggressive contrast between new developments on the street and the heritage restricted residential lots adjacent to them. Personally, I struggle to see how a six storey development could be appropriate next to a maximum double storey single residential dwelling, but that’s what seems to be in the pipeline. Here’s hoping that common sense and quality urban design prevails.
The beginnings of a renaissance…
It’s been terrific to see the rejuvenation this year of our more overlooked town centres, including Bayswater, Bassendean and to some extent, Inglewood. New local businesses, local events, street art and pop up shops have bought under-utilised spaces back to life and created a new sense of optimism and pride in each of the respective “high streets”, attracting support from locals and visitors alike. The small business owners who continue to take risks in opening new ventures are to be congratulated as are the community groups pushing for change and co-ordinating what have been some wonderful placemaking events and projects.
Because you can’t be considered a hot suburb unless you have at least one. A terrific way to bring diversity to spaces.
Ditto for food trucks. Absolutely loving the growth in Perth’s street art scene and the sense of vibrancy and storytelling it brings.
Festivals and fetes
As above. You could visit a local fete, free event or festival pretty much every weekend if you wanted to.
Our ongoing obsession with cafes and coffee…
And health food. And small plates. And mixed breed desserts. The development of our local food culture is something to behold.
Using social media for community building
Facebook, Nabo, Instagram, Twitter. The modern way for communities to create like mind interest groups and reach out and connect with each other. There’s no excuse for not knowing what’s going on in your neighbourhood.
Spruiking our suburbs
The list of individuals and groups promoting local events and small businesses through blogs and publications continues to grow – this year saw the launch of Oh Hello Beaufort magazine along with a multitude of new online options. Being the first to write or post about a new restaurant, bar or cafe is now a competitive sport (ok, guilty as charged!). But how good is it to see?! Shopping and supporting local is vital to the health of our communities and suburbs and the ongoing promotion of these businesses is a critical part of it. Let’s hope the trend continues.
We see them here, we see them there, bikes are taking off everywhere! From dedicated bike paths and more bicycle parking on our main streets to bicycle boulevards – the push is on to rid us of our reliance on cars and embrace bikes as an alternative transport in and around our suburbs and city.
I’m expecting more of the same as well as a potential flood of new development applications and projects along Beaufort Street depending upon the outcome of the Activity Corridor Plan (and performance of the property market). Here’s to a fabulous year of more community initiatives and the continuing transformation of our suburbs to help make Perth an even better city to live.