And so the community conversation starts for a new residential, commercial and civic heart for our town.
I’ve fielded the emails and the phone calls. Social media has done its thing. Like a grass fire the flames have travelled through the collective conscience of Vic Park’s digital citizens.
“…What do I think? Is it good for my street? How will the Town Centre affect property values? Should I sell my home now before the work starts? Should I wait until after completion to sell? How long will it take? What will the traffic be like? Will the trees be cut down? How much park and open space will remain? How high will the development be? What about the community facilities? Where will they be relocated to? Who’s paying for it? Where are the new South Park Offices going to be? Will there be real consultation with the community? Can we trust the numbers?…”
They are just a snap-shot of the conversation starters around the Town Centre Redevelopment Project.
For what its worth – I am, in principle, a supporter of this project.
The upheaval for certain community groups will be real. The inconvenience of facilities like the Leisure Life Centre being unavailable will be unavoidable.
But….if we want a sustainable community with vibrant human spaces, not just a scattering of poorly spaced cafes, restaurants and retail premises strung like pearls along Albany Highway, which is on the whole, car focussed, not pedestrian focussed, then in-filling residential property and inserting a human orientated Town Centre is a fantastic answer.
It’s a chance to redefine our Town and truly create a node of activity that is about people, community, civic and commercial space.
My fears are those same sneaking suspicions when change comes, that we’ll lose something. This deal done on our behalf by the officers of the Town, overseen by our elected members, will not fulfill on its promise. That somehow the lack of consultation or transparent process that was evident with the ‘paid parking’ project will be repeated.
The redeeming part of this process is that the Town of Victoria Park has partnered with LandCorp, a state government entity that is charged with delivering this project. LandCorp specialise in land, property and infrastructure projects that have a lasting and positive influence for Western Australians.
A project like this is familiar territory. They have values and charters that are aligned with community outcomes. And unlike Hawaiian Group (who own the Park Centre Shopping Centre) with whom the Town had a Memo of Understanding signed regarding the Town Centre Project some years ago, LandCorp are not strictly a commercial entity. A commercial entity by its very nature will always act in their own interests, which may compete with community outcomes.
So LandCorp’s process and experience give me confidence that this project can be completed with successful outcomes for our community. The Town of Victoria Park should be commended for initiating this partnership.
Yes there will be upheaval and change but I believe that it is progressive and will have a positive ripple effect into the surrounding area both for property value and sheer amenity.
It is beholden upon our community, not just our elected members and the officers of the Town, to apply themselves to being aware and involved in this Town Centre Redevelopment Project.
It will define who we are as a Town. It will contain potentially, some of our most important civic spaces.
So what can you do?
Look at what is being proposed, and then let the Town of Victoria Park know what is precious to you during this community feedback period. Do you passionately want to slow traffic along Kent Street, keep apartments low rise or retain the recreation centre? Do you want to make sure the fig trees are retained as well as the TGIF markets? What is missing in our town that can be integrated here? Have a say now before the agreement with LandCorp is finalised.