An established trend in Perth has seen the resurgence of open-air high streets over suburban big-box shopping centres – reflected in the rise of café culture, informal dining and street festivals.
Creating Communities anticipate this return to local as big box centres invest billions of dollars all over metropolitan Perth in a bid to reinvent themselves as entertainment precincts.
We’ve recently developed a town centre strategy in Wellard Square, a high street at the centre of Peet’s award-winning The Village at Wellard development in Perth’s southern suburbs.
Wellard Square opened just under three years ago and is currently dealing with this countertrend – sitting directly in the shadow of the recently renovated Kwinana Marketplace.
To reinvigorate Wellard Square as a vibrant and sustainable Village Centre, we developed a strategy in partnership with Peet, Colliers International, Wellard Square tenants, the City of Kwinana, The Village at Wellard Residents Association, the Rockingham Kwinana Chamber of Commerce and the local community.
Our strategy primarily centres on working collaboratively to ensure Wellard Suqare is a thriving civic meeting place that supports a strong local economy.
To facilitate this project, we identified the following areas to facilitate change:
- Create regular activity in the area during opening hours.
- Raising awareness of the precinct to the greater Kwinana and Rockingham regions.
- Supporting tenants to implement business-led initiatives
- Improving the general amenities, infrastructure and streetscape
We completed our first-on-the-ground initiative in mid-September with Park(ing) Day.
The concept of Parking Day started in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary parking space. Rebar’s urban conversion went viral and 12 years later thousands of communities around the world have recreated the project on the third Friday of September.
In true form, on Friday 15th of September, we paid tribute by initiating and facilitating a free community event held in The Village at Wellard’s Village Centre.
By, Park(ing) Day became an opportunity for Wellard Square tenants, community groups and local residents to input into the event with minimal barriers.
The City of Kwinana got involved with the John Wellard Community Centre by providing live music, giant games and even a mock cow for the kids to milk!
In what is normally a stark lot reserved for cars, the local community came down in droves to enjoy the repurposed public space. Highlights included hundreds of kids creating chalk masterpieces on The Strand and the Keller family in their own lo-fi parklet made of camping chairs, AstroTurf and a noughts and crosses game.
A number of local community groups were delighted to participate. The Village at Wellard Residents Association, a community initiative to enliven the area, ran the ‘The Village Well’ pop-up bar, a community book swap, and a rock painting station. And the Kwinana Cricket Club facilitated a popular game of street cricket. And a new community group, Wine with Friends, sold raffle tickets for the David Wirrpanda Foundation.
Retail and food shops contributed to the experience by extending trading hours past 6 pm and by bringing the footpath to life by repurposing their shopfronts. Highlights included Nextra News and Gifts adding colour to the street by teaming up with a pop-up florist, and Bliss Momos selling traditional Nepalese street food out the front of the cafe.
A few of the health service providers popped up on The Strand with Wellard Physiotherapy and Tassell Chiropractic giving out free 5 minute consults while kids got to listen to their hearts and lungs using stethoscopes out the front of Wellard Family Practice
Overall, Park(ing) Day was a huge success for the following reasons:
- It provided a barrier-free opportunity for Wellard Square tenants and community groups to exhibit their wares or services and interact with the wider community.
- Local residents participated in the organising and delivering of a memorable and impactful community event.
- Residents were able to reconnect and re-engage with their town centre. This built a strong sense of ownership and community pride.
- The event ticked a number of collaborative actions identified in our Wellard Square revitalisation strategy.
- By showcasing The Village at Wellard, it drew in potential return visitors from the greater Kwinana and Rockingham regions.
- Owing to the outstanding investment in community development and capacity building by Peet and participating stakeholders over the last 13 years, Wellard Square is transitioning into a vibrant and sustainable Village Centre.
What the community said: (posted on Facebook September 15)
“Awesome event!! So looking forward to more events like this over summer and getting more involved in future.”
“Thanks for all the hard work you all put in was our best Friday night for a long time ”
“I still reckon closing off the Strand between the shops and making this area a mall, for dining, music/entertainment and other attractions, would attract more foot traffic to the shopping area. The ambiance and vibe is more appealing. Well done to the organisers of yesterday’s event, it was a great event.”
“My family and I had a great time and enjoyed meeting new people…ready to help again whenever needed”
“Well done. It looked great and plenty of posts on here from people praising what a fantastic time they’d had. Brilliant development of community spirit.”
“It was a fantastic event. Thank you, everyone, for your hard work organising. The DJ was funky as & combined with space for the kids to run amok definitely kept us there until 9!”
“Thank you to all who attended our Park(ing) Day event in Wellard Square tonight – and came to visit our pop-up bar. It was amazing to be a part of it and the feedback received has been exceptional. I met a lot of very happy people and made a few new friends.” Matthew Rowse, Chair of The Village at Wellard Residents Association