Different approach to boost local retail

As online shopping and economic conditions continue to impact retail and commercial spaces throughout regional towns and cities in WA, a need to renew and reinvent appears imminent. 

A successful example of this can be found in New South Wales with Renew Newcastle, an initiative set up 10 years ago to support the then failing city. 

General manager Christopher Saunders said Renew Newcastle was a permanent structure for temporary things. 

“It is taking advantage of underutilised property by borrowing them from the property owner and finding them suitable custodians to look after them until they are needed by the property owner to be redeveloped or because they have a good commercial lease option,” he said.  

“The idea is rather than have a space empty and good for nothing you have someone in it and it’s about bringing life back into a community.”

Mr Saunders said it proved enormously valuable to the community and to property owners with 260 projects and 81 spaces activated to date. 

Mr Saunders said the Renew Newcastle model was something that could be used in many WA towns with 39 communities across Australia already adopting the method. 

Shire of Collie president Sarah Stanley said it could be further investigated to see if it would work in Collie. 

“Renew Newcastle is a great example of a community that was able to bolster a struggling retail district with an innovative approach and is certainly worth further investigation,” Cr Stanley said. 

“It could provide a boost for some businesses and some retail areas in Collie, adding vibrancy and foot traffic for existing businesses and providing a hand up for new starters.”