VINCENT council has introduced a “12 month amnesty” on change of use applications for the main Beaufort Street strip in a bid to fill vacant shopfronts.
Currently a business must apply for a change of use if they want to open a different type of business from the one previously there, which can take 90 days and costs $295.
Recently traders have been leaving the strip in droves and pressure has been mounting on state and local governments to intervene.
The amnesty runs until July 23 next year and new businesses have a year before they have to submit a change of use application.
After that they will have to submit an application to change use.
“For businesses who are keen to move in, we can’t afford to wait,” Vincent mayor Emma Cole says.
“We want to fill vacant tenancies and bring people back to Beaufort Street as soon as possible.”
At the July 23 Vincent council meeting, councillor Josh Topelberg said there’d been some community concern that the amnesty could see Beaufort Street flooded with cafes.
An increasing number of cookie-cutter eateries has been partly blamed for the demise of the strip, which was once renowned for its mix of quirky retail and dining.
The amnesty applies to buildings facing the stretch of Beaufort Street between Bulwer Street to the south and Angove Street to the north.
Liquor barns and industrial uses are banned in that area, but “cottage industry” is permitted.
Any building works on the main strip still have to get council approval, so the rule change will mostly benefit retail “pop ups” or artists that don’t need to install equipment like a stove hood to get up and running.
Vincent mayor Emma Cole said “in terms of anything bizarre coming out of this, building and health compliance [rules] remains in place…so I feel pretty confident that this is a good approach and we’re not going to see car washes move into existing shopfronts or anything of that nature”.
The amnesty will complement the City of Stirling’s joint “Vacancy Project” which aims to get an “interesting mix” of businesses on Beaufort Street.
It’s similar to the Activate Perth project which has successfully filled empty CBD buildings with pop ups including a native flower florist, a hula hoop fitness club and an Aboriginal artist’s gallery.
by DAVID BELL