Shire plans to energise town centre

A new Shire initiative seeks to connect new and interesting projects with empty spaces, providing benefits for property owners, fledgling businesses and the central business district as a whole.

Project Occupancy is calling for property owners with vacant spaces and possible tenants to express interest in a flexible tenancy model.

A 10-year project in Newcastle found having vacant spaces occupied provided immediate benefits for the property owner as well as existing businesses in the area.

An Economic Evaluation of the Renew Newcastle Project by the Centre of Full Employment and Equity found the project lead to increases in commercial lease payments, an increase in employment and an overall reduction in criminal activity, with a cost-benefit ratio of more than 14 to one.

More importantly for many property owners, the presence of activity in an area grows the medium to long-term value of their property.

For potential tenants, access to a space to work from, to sell work, or to create is of immense value to creative projects and new businesses that typically begin without much money.

Shire President Sarah Stanley said ideal participants were willing to contribute with a pioneering spirit and a collaborative approach.

“We are seeking participants with strong ideas for projects that will bring life and activity to the area and not directly compete with nearby businesses.

“It could be a small or home-based business, or a creative community that is looking for an opportunity to take a major step forward in what they are doing.

“If you have a long-held dream to open a shop, set up a studio or test your idea in the marketplace, Project Occupancy could be for you,” Cr Stanley said.

Chief Executive Officer David Blurton said the Shire would act as an enabler and match-maker for the project.

“Shire staff will collect expressions of interest, matching possible tenants with suitable vacant properties and providing draft tenancy agreements that will act as a starting point for negotiation.

“The Shire will also coordinate regular reviews with projects and property owners to monitor the success of the program,” Mr Blurton said.

Project Occupancy is part of Energise Collie, which is a coordinated approach to revitalise Collie’s central business district that includes new uses for empty properties, sprucing up tired spaces and coordinating activities and events to create a vibrant town centre.

More information on Project Occupancy is available on the Shire’s website, or contact shire planner Robert Quinn on 9734 9000 to find out more.