|Welcome to Bubba's backyard|
|Bubba gets to feed his fish|
|Bubba's trampoline, his companion 'Nelly' and getting chased through his jungle|
|Bubba is chief egg collector and in a game of hide and seek he pretends to be a chicken so well he fools his Uncle Swaney|
Why rethink Freo's city centre?
I get the feeling that, like Bubba's tiger, seeking out expanded retail as the solution to all our troubles may be an elusive and ultimately fruitless exercise.
I feel that this approach assumes that what has happened in the past will continue into the future. But times are changing. Internet shopping means that people can buy books from the comfort of their homes whenever they like (and at a cheaper price). It's been forecast that our mobile phones will become the most convenient option for buying groceries within a decade.
To me this has a couple of very important repercussions. The concept of planning for mono-functional city centres based solely around shopping as the primary activity is becoming redundant. People's expectations of their city centres will change along with their shopping habits.
Turning the negative into an opportunity
When Bubba was just a twinkle in his mother's eye, his future backyard wasn't impressive at all. It was dusty, dry and one-dimensional (a little like the dustbowl out the front of the Kidogo Gallery). Bubba's mum saw an opportunity and rethought the space. The end result is what Bubba enjoys today.
So what are some opportunities?
I recently watched a video by Julian Dobson (click here) and gleaned three key themes for rethinking Freo's city centre:
1. In an age of clone towns the ability to tell Freo's unique story will become its lifeline. Our point of difference must be sacrosanct and Freo's story must be told. What is Council doing to ensure that Freo does not become anywhereville? What is it about Freo that other places want?
2. Only offering up a shopping experience seems shortsighted when people's expectations and habits are changing. Is there value in Council's goal of increasing retail at the expense of so much else?
3. Social value is important. Along with creating quality places, social value will become the determining factor in deciding where people decide to spend their time. This means adding layer upon layer of activity and function to Freo's city centre. How is social value being added to our city centre, and how can we add more?
If revitalising Freo's city centre is like completing a puzzle and Scheme Amendment 49 and the Economic Development Strategy are the puzzle pieces, then where is the puzzle cover? What is our shared vision for the city centre?