VINCENT Mayor Emma Cole says despite gloomy talk about Leederville’s economy, there are green shoots emerging, such as a proposed boutique hotel.
“It’s a very sad thing to see some long-established businesses close, but at the same time there are some businesses who are working hard to keep ahead of the trends, collaborate with each other and diversify themselves,” Ms Cole told the Voice.
Ms Cole says the city is also looking at boosting density in the suburb to bring in more workers and inner-city residents to support businesses.
She says the council, working closely with the Leederville Connect and its Town Teams, is also looking at creating a shared alfresco space between Newcastle and Oxford Streets.
“We will make sure development is sensitive and doesn’t impact the character of Leederville that we all love,” she says.
Ms Cole says she is hearing from businesses across the city that times are tough.
“People don’t have a lot of disposable income at the moment. Local businesses are having to work harder but there are signs of strength and innovation and the city is keen to support local businesses and keep people coming through the town centre.”
In an attempt to do this the city’s Business Advisory Group has agreed on three key priorities; people, place and policy.
The BAG will look at ways to support entrepreneurship, activation and ensure policy and legislative frameworks support businesses through “red tape reduction”.
“It’s a broad sketch to inform economic development strategy,” says Ms Cole. “It will help us really flesh out these concepts and look at how the city can grow and expand economically.”
She says the council recently changed its planning policy so existing business could try out new income streams with less red tape.
“If you’re a record shop and you want to introduce coffee, for example, you can do that as an ancillary function and you won’t get hung up on costly issues like applications or further parking requirements.”
BAG member Cr Jimmy Murphy says the retail future of the city is going to see a lot of change.
“I think we are going to see more of these shared retail spaces and retailers sharing costs,” he says.
“This will mean more short-term rentals so the council could potentially look at making it easier to get short-term rentals.”
He says although there’s been a bit of negative media about business in Leederville, the neighbourhood is actually doing quite well.
“That’s if you’re comparing apples with apples,” he clarifies. “It’s all relative. Overall, Perth is in a dire recession.”
Long-established haunts that are closing their doors include Oxford Street favourites Elroy Clothing, Oxford Street Books and Black Plastic, and the pain is also being felt in Mt Hawthorn, where popular cafe Academy will now only be doing functions until its lease runs out; it costs less to leave the cafe closed during the day.
Owner of nearby business Network Video, Melanie McInerney says Academy is not the only business struggling at the Mezz, and her store is only open because she chooses not to take a wage.
by MOLLY SCHMIDT