Guest Article - Future Bayswater

Published:

This article has been submitted by Future Bayswater. 

  • Outraged at the Outrage!
  • A community group forms to challenge negative perceptions around density, regeneration and change in Bayswater
  • The combination of an expert speaker series, social media engagement, local conversations, and strategic discussions are used to advocate for urban revitalisation to generate community benefits

Located just six kilometres from the Perth CBD, Bayswater is typical of many ‘inner-ring’ suburbs in Australian cities which possess great potential for change and urban infill around an existing railway station. However, Bayswater and its town centre has been challenged by a combination of under-investment, a range of transport issues, and the pull of the nearby Morley regional shopping centre, resulting in a stale town centre, that people drive through rather than travel to, a lack of local jobs and limited social vibrancy.

The catalyst for the formation of community group Future Bayswater, a cohort of local residents who wanted to see their town centre revitalised, was a local government town hall meeting held in December 2015. The meeting was dominated by a small but vocal group opposing the Bayswater town centre’s first ever mixed-use apartment development. Realising only one side of the debate was being heard, less than a month later a group of long-term, local residents and business owners– formed Future Bayswater. Our mission was to discuss benefits of housing diversity and mixed-use development in a transport oriented hub and to instigate an alternate positive conversation to support the revitalisation of the Bayswater Town Centre after decades of decline.

Entirely self-funded, Future Bayswater has grown to have a following of more than 1,600 people and membership of local residents with expertise in urban planning, community engagement, architecture, IT and transport – as well teachers, business owners, designers and even a fireman!

Future Bayswater aimed to cut-through a pervading ‘fear of density’ through a number of simultaneous approaches to discuss why people living in the heart of the town centre could help to bring it alive. Key initiatives have included:

  • An evidenced-based website, providing easy access to informed, rational discussion of urban issues.
  • Social media providing a safe space for discussions.
  • A pub speaker series in 2016, featuring 25 leading experts on a range of topics including health, heritage, development economics, urban design, and sustainability.
  • A range of community workshops in 2017.
  • A public art stunt to draw media attraction (The Armadrillo).
  • Community event, Beats Beers + Burgers, bringing the community together and inviting feedback from nearly 900 attendees.
  • Creating a community hub in a disused building in the town centre, with office space and facilities for Curtin University Masters Architecture students to use for a town centre regeneration project.

In 2017, Chairman Paul Shanahan won the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) State Planning Champion, and Future Bayswater won the Community Engagement Award, along with a commendation in the President’s Award. In 2018, Paul Shanahan was awarded National Planning Champion by PIA - the culmination and acknowledgment of his public advocacy and leadership.

Future Bayswater has successfully encouraged key decision makers and politicians to support the need for an adequate structure plan to encourage and guide redevelopment, a Design Advisory Committee to improve the quality of new buildings, and to leverage an $86 million new station as part of the Metronet project.

The unique model we created as a group, focuses on evidence-based discussions, knowledge uplift, networking and obtaining ‘public permission’. While it is always easy to generate opposition to change, at Future Bayswater we’ve mobilised and given voice to the large portion of the Bayswater community that wants to see investment, high-quality infill, activity and employment in their town centre. By engaging the community to support a vision, at Future Bayswater we seek to obtain public permission through meaningful engagement at the beginning of the regeneration process, as opposed to the traditional model of ‘consultation’ on individual proposals, which is too late to be effective and puts the self-interest of a few over broader community benefit. Building on our success, Future Bayswater is now helping other neighbourhoods to implement its grassroots engagement model through Future Plexus (‘a network of networks’), with ‘Future’ groups springing up in Cottesloe, South Perth, and Nedlands. Enquiries on the “how-to” are also received from local governments.

As we continue to go from strength to strength, we welcome new members to support our vision for a quality, connected and sustainable development.

www.futurebayswater.com

www.facebook.com/futurebayswat...

Join the group at www.futurebayswater.com/connec...

Get in touch: vision@futurebayswater.com


Other articles from Insight, September 2018 (view email newsletter):