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Idea for Perth 'West End tourism precinct' to revitalise city's 'dying' CBD

by August 19, 2017 General

A ‘West End tourism precinct’ in the mould of the Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris would revive a “dying” CBD and see people flock back to the city centre, an influential Perth businessman believes.

The idea is the brainchild of Dr Con Berbatis – a partner in the Holiday Inn Perth – who said the public should adopt the idea even if government doesn’t.

“In Rome there is the Via Condotti and Paris the Avenue des Champs-Elysees. In New York there is Fifth Avenue, in LA Rodeo Drive and in Singapore Orchard Road,” Dr Berbatis said.

“We held discussions earlier in the year with various state and federal MPs from both sides, the City of Perth, the CEO of the AHA and Experience Perth. The support was overwhelming from all sides except the City of Perth who are reticent on the basis of them wanting to convert Hay Street into two-way.

“Of course we oppose two-way vigorously and will campaign against it. Amongst other things, access to the hotel and our drop-off bays are crucial. It’s also a poor excuse to leave an area of prime opportunity to frankly rot.”

Dr Berbatis’ idea, which would see such an entertainment precinct from William Street, along the Terrace up to Parliament House and down to Wellington Street, is one of many which will be considered at the Perth City Street Summit on Saturday.

The idea also calls for improvements to be made to the Hay Street area between the Mall and His Majesty’s Theatre.

The Perth City Street Summit has been organised by Labor MLA John Carey, elected to the seat of Perth at the last state election after serving as Mayor of Vincent.

The summit will hear the full results of a wide ranging survey on what concerns business owners and residents have, with preliminary findings showing safety, homelessness and anti-social behaviour are foremost.

Those who took part in the survey were encouraged to contribute ideas for improving life in perth, and attendees at the summit will be asked to vote for the best.

Mr Carey is a long time critic of the City of Perth and its Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi, saying earlier this year that red tape was killing the CBD and smothering innovations like alfresco dining, knocked back by the council in late 2016.

“I have had numerous meetings with small businesses and hotels that are concerned about what is happening in the city and the kind of experience that people are having,” he said at the time.

“Small business is dying in the city. There are vacant shops, dead streets and a lack of activity. Businesses would have to come to get approval for a pot plant, they would have to get approval for a bench.”

Hitting back, Ms Scaffidi said the “biggest piece of red tape” faced by the council was the Perth parking levy, which requires the City to pay $17 million dollars to the state government annually.

“We would say to the state government, freeze it and preferably cut it and the City of Perth could go a long way then in reducing some of our other charges. At the end of the day we are a business and we obviously need to earn revenue to be able to pay these exorbitant fees,” she said. 

The summit will be held at Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on Saturday from 8.30am – 1pm.