Below are details of a written submission to the City of Greater Geraldton as feedback on their draft “CBD redevelopment and revitalisation scheme” presented at March Council meeting: http://www.cgg.wa.gov.au/meeting/ordinary-meeting-council-25-march-2014-mullewa-130pm
- A brief explanation of why Pollinators is involved,
- Links to related documents,
- Our submission and CGG’s response.
Your feedback on any or all of this is most welcome!
Pollinators Inc has taken a role in creating a more vibrant Geraldton CBD for several reasons including:
- A more interesting and beautiful CBD inspires and reflects a creative culture,
- There are multiple social, cultural, ecological and economic problems (waste, homelessness, crime etc) and opportunities that manifest in the CBD,
- There is a market opportunity for sustaining our social enterprise through being a broker and provider of space (e.g. CityHive, pop-up shops) etc.,
- There are vacant spaces and artists, innovators and entrepreneurs that want to use them
- It embodies our values of being connected, collaborative and creative in a very visible way…so people can ‘get it’.
- Its been very popular amongst our members and in the evaluation survey! https://pollinators.org.au/2014/05/09/evaluation-report/
Our strategy has been to not “do” the artwork, occupy the pop up shops or the buildings, rather to nurture and enable those that will and want to. We’ve also convened forums and an ‘alliance’ with ACDC and MWCCI to progress issues on behalf of our members and the community.
We’ve previously commented on related documents on member’s behalf, including City Centre Vibrancy Strategy. Our submission is here: 130405_Pollinators Submission on Vibrancy Strategy
In these submissions we tend to try and ensure that social, cultural and ecological outcomes are incorporated into the policies and strategies, rather than them just becoming a means by which the same economic and infrastructure paradigm persists into the future.
Below is our most recent submission with CGG responses in blue:
Thank you for your email of 5 May regarding the Geraldton City Centre Redevelopment and Revitalisation Strategies and Incentives Program.
The City appreciates the time you’ve taken to provide your input to the development process. Your comments and suggestions have been reviewed and considered for inclusion into the final Council Item at the May 2014 Council Meeting. We again thank you for your interest and for your input on this important matter.
In advance of providing our responses below to the individual items you have raised, please note that quite a number of the points your raise are already addressed by the City Vibrancy Strategy, which you would be familiar with. Further, please note that the scope of the CBD Incentives Program is limited to addressing the 12 specific barriers to redevelopment that were identified by the 6 November 2013 workshop conducted by the City with the primary stakeholders who attended this workshop.
There is no reference to any measures / criteria by which it would be assessed that this is ‘working’ e.g. increase in value or property, decrease in sq. m of unoccupiable buildings, increase in number of CBD visitors and residents. etc. Without criteria you won’t be able to review, assess success.
You will appreciate that one factor is not likely to accurately reflect the success of the program and it would be difficult to isolate any specific outcomes generated by the incentives. Incorporating multiple variables would also be logistically difficult. Referring to comments above, the object of the program is remove the 12 identified barriers to development. The City does intend to develop indicators of overall economic activity/health for CGG. These indicators may incorporate measures related to this outcomes of this program and the City will periodically review these.
There is no review period mentioned for the scheme. This should be included.
A good suggestion. (Pending Council approval) the City intends to review the program annually and revise the program as appropriate. We will add this parameter to the final Item being submitted to Council.
Rate concessions should be applied to buildings occupied by NFP cultural and social organisations who actively contribute to vibrancy e.g. ACDC, Pollinators, Yamatji, Multicultural Association
Rates are assessed on and paid by the owners of buildings/properties rather than by the occupiers/lessees. The intention of this program is to remove barriers to development, over which the City has control or influence; that is, to remove obstacles, unnecessary administration, costs and other obstacles standing in the way of redevelopment. The developers can choose to pass on any concessions to the occupiers, or not — but the City has no authority to compel the owners/developers to do this.
Vibrancy initiatives and Community Grants provided by CGG would be an appropriate resource to tap for NFP cultural and social organisations that can be applied toward this type of development rather than via rates concessions. The developers or owners can choose to pass along to the occupiers any concessions received from the incentives program during the construction phase and could be an appropriate means for the owners to support these social organisations, but this would have to come from the owners, not the City. These factors, which the City acknowledges will contribute positively to vibrancy, should be factors raised in the application for community and other grant support.
There should be reference to or incorporation of stronger incentives for developments that achieve ecological or social outcomes e.g. as per One Planet Principles / CGG Sustainability Policy. There is a risk that this incentive strategy just incentivises wasteful, ugly, isolating developments rather than green, beautiful, integrating, creative buildings and spaces.
The City supports the achievement of ecological and social outcomes and encourages projects with these objectives, however, this is driven by existing policies and development application strategies already in place. As above, this exercise is targeted specifically at removal of the obstacles identified by stakeholder workshop. The strategies in the Incentives Program address the specific barriers agreed upon by the workshop participants. While the City supports efforts in this direction and our policies and development strategies generally include these, the stakeholder group did not identify any specific barriers related to ecological and social outcomes as key barriers requiring attention in this program, and therefore they are not specifically addressed in the Incentives Program.
There are no incentives or mention of consistent branding and approach to a look / feel for the CBD. This should be packaged with the incentives to encourage a consistent brand within the CBD. An example is the branding developed for Livening Up the Laneways, or ‘Take a Fresh Look’. This should be included under section 8 “Geraldton’s Profile”.
These issues are all covered under City Vibrancy.
Also under ‘Geraldton’s Profile’ is that events / festivals should be incentivised to operate in / near the CBD.
The City agrees with this suggestion and intends to support this taking place, but once again, this is a City Vibrancy topic.
There is very little alignment with the Geraldton City Centre Vibrancy Policy e.g.
No mention of what Governance structures could be established (section 1, a) ii) of the policy). Given the inactivity / failure of the Governance Alliance there is no collaborative governance mechanism for the CBD
The City supports the suggestion of a governance structure, however it falls outside the scope of this exercise of removing specifically-identified barriers to development. In a separate initiative, the City would support an approach to the MidWest Chamber of Commerce and Industry to establish such a steering group/coalition of CBD stakeholders that is aimed at developing and managing a coordinated approach to the CBD management amongst stakeholders, much the way that shopping malls are managed for the benefit of all stakeholders. This approach has been shown to be an effective CBD management strategy and as such the City supports it, in the context of City Vibrancy.
No mention of any incentives for Food & Entertainment Hubs, or rate holidays for new restaurants or bars (section 5. f) iii) of policy)
Again, noting that the Revitalisation Program is focussed on removing the barriers identified by the 6 November 2013 workshop, this was not a barrier identified by the stakeholder group. Also, do note that any rates holidays that may be offered are applied to the owner/developer and not to proprietors, and the City has no legal mechanism to compel the owner receiving a concession to pass this concession on to a lessee. However, taking this on board, The City proposes to recommend (subject to Council approval) that the Incentives Program be modified to permit the City to extend (at its discretion) the rates holidays, beyond the construction period, with each submission evaluated on its merits and subject to Council approval. This would provide owners with some additional leeway and incentives to pass these concessions on to the operators, provided the proposed development meets Council’s merit criteria.
No mention of focusing on key (five) destinations
The map included on page 1 of the Revitalisation Program details the area of focus of this exercise, which includes three of the five key destinations highlighted in the City Vibrancy Strategy. As above, the scope of this initiative is limited to removal of the barriers raised by the Stakeholder group on 6 November 2013 and geographically restricted to the areas highlighted on P1 of the Incentives Program document.
There should be stronger mention and incentives aligned with 2029 & Beyond vision / Creative City Initiative 6.6 that are relevant to enabling / encouraging social justice e.g. youth hub, aboriginal culture & arts etc. Again, the risk is that the incentive scheme focuses on economic outcomes for those that are wealthy enough to take advantage of them rather than creating the sort of community aspirations that are articulated in the 2029 & Beyond documents.
Again, note the scope of the Incentives program being limited to removing the 12 barriers identified by the workshop and reiterating that City Vibrancy Strategy is meant to address these issues.
Thank you again for your comments and for the time you’ve taken to provide this information to us. It is very much appreciated.