Snapshot from Public Information Session (13th August)

14 Aug 2019

Roughly sixty people attended last night’s information session at Riversmith Café, where further details on the construction program for the redevelopment were discussed, as well as wayfinding and marketing plans, and activation ideas. The Main Street Traders Group, who have been meeting regularly with Shire staff to provide a viewpoint for those businesses on the ground, requested the meeting be facilitated by experienced business consultant Graham Harvey. Graham introduced the Shire’s new Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Addison-Brown, the new Project Manager for the Main Street Redevelopment, Sean Shields, and the Shire’s Sustainable Economy Officer, Saul Cresswell.

Stephanie briefly spoke to the room, introducing herself and Shire Directors from Infrastructure, Sustainable Development, and Corporate and Community Services.

Sean Shields, Project Manager, gave a presentation outlining the latest staging plans, traffic diversion routes, and construction methodology, with works scheduled to start on 1st October. He highlighted the Shire’s strong focus on working with the contractor to minimise impact to traders, including:

  • Breaking down construction phases into the smallest possible sections;
  • Utilising printed shade-cloth on construction barriers to minimise dust, improve visible amenity, and provide additional marketing benefits;
  • Keeping noise from construction to within legislated decibels;
  • Having face-to-face communication prior to upcoming works with individual business owners/managers to assess best timing and approach for pouring cement in front of their door/s;
  • Pausing construction works for a period of time over the busy Christmas period, noting that while machinery and noise would stop there would still be evidence visible such as construction barriers;
  • Focusing traffic management on clear diversions rather than stop-go signs to keep traffic moving and reduce frustration to visitors.

Sean then gauged from the room their preference for whether the contractor worked a five day week, stopping work on weekends, or worked a 13 day fortnight, with the bonus of completing each section within a shorter timeframe. A show of hands resulted in an estimated 70% in favour of the 13 day fortnight, but it was felt that given the room only contained a segment of Main Street traders it would be better to get further input before making a decision.

Saul Cresswell, Sustainable Economy Officer, then introduced the communications channels for receiving information or for instigating communication regarding the construction. The main sources of information will be:

  • The Shire’s YourSay webpage:
  • The “Main Street Traders Redevelopment Group” Facebook page, set up by an active group of traders to facilitate information flows;
  • Fortnightly meetings with the Project Advisory Group, where potentially impacted businesses will meet with the Project Manager to discuss upcoming works and provide their input;
  • An Emergency mobile number, manned by the Project Manager, for construction related issues;
  • Newspaper releases at each stage of the development;
  • Direct updates to those who have provided their email addresses;
  • Email communication to either the Project Manager or the Sustainable Economy Officer.

Saul then spoke to the marketing campaign being developed by the Shire’s Marketing and Events Officer, Cristina Smith. The campaign is tentatively being pursued under the banner of “Main Street Makeover”, a suggestion that came from the Main Street Traders Group, and has the following aims:

  • Promote the Main Street as still open for business and support continued trade;
  • Promote parking access to facilitate visitation to the town centre;
  • Promote pedestrian access ways to the Main Street during the construction period;
  • To inform traders, residents and visitors about the project details and put the focus on looking forward to a new and improved main street.

The marketing campaign would include branding, clear directional signage for both pedestrians and vehicles, printed shade cloth on construction barriers, large banners at the entry to Margaret River and on the corner of Wallcliffe Rd and Bussell Hwy, a DL Flyer for accommodation providers inclusive of a parking map, large printed information signs with artist impressions of the future street, media releases and newspaper advertising. In addition, the Marketing and Events Officer would communicated with Events Organisers to provide them with the branded materials and good news story to frame the project positively for visitors.

Finally, Saul spoke to “activating the main street” – what actions could be undertaken to draw people onto the Main Street during and after the construction. Some ideas that have arisen so far include:

  • Getting school classes to paint some of the sections of fence shade cloth, generating a sense of ownership and drawing parents onto the street;
  • Getting artists to create more murals and street art, and publicise a Margaret River “Art Trail” for tourists (similar to Bunbury’s);
  • Creating signs or artwork to highlight existing alleyways linking Ned Higgins Lane to the Main Street (example of some of the pedestrian linkages between Ned Higgins Lane & Bussell Hwy shown below).

Graham Harvey then spoke from his point of view on the benefit of approaching the redevelopment as an opportunity to consider how best to respond to improve customer service in the context of surrounding construction. He facilitated a question and answer session, with answers provided by the Project Manager, Sustainable Economy Officer, and Chief Executive Officer.

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