By Melissa Sheil
DESPITE general approval of the controversial Central Mall upgrade plan, pedestrian safety remains a key concern for residents, according to a community consultation report.
Alongside additions such as trees, seating and art, the Central Lane project will transform Central Mall from a pedestrian only area to a mixed vehicle and pedestrian shared street, with a slow speed, one way road.
In a report outlining community engagement outcomes, it was revealed 73 per cent of respondents believed the plan was unsuitable for pedestrian and vehicle access and 78 per cent felt unsure or dissatisfied it would improve safety.
The open text section of the engagement form recorded at least 59 counts of concern regarding opening the area up to vehicles.
“I like the idea of a pedestrian friendly mall with trees and the use of the space from wall to wall, I think it will be a great improvement to the space as it is now – however I am totally against sharing the space with vehicles which I think is unsafe and not necessary,” one respondent wrote.
Director of development services Peter Varelis said the mall was not working to the best of its ability.
“In areas like Hay Street and Murray Street in the CBD, they have a high amount of foot traffic due to many people living and working directly in the area around it,” he said.
“We just don’t have the ingredients to make the recipe of a pedestrian only hub work.”
Greenhouse Gallery and Studio Works owner operator Julian Cotterle said he was pleased the area would be revitalised and did not think the area would be treated as a traditional road.
“Council have said it will be a very slow speed limit and I don’t think people understand that it won’t be cars whizzing past all day,” he said.
“I’m not sure if it will change people’s shopping patterns and we will not necessarily get more traffic, but it will at least look nicer with proper seating rather than brick walls and nice greenery and art.
“If they can redo the surfaces so it’s easier and safer for elderly people to access and move about that will be a positive change.”
On another front, Micro Collective owner Roger Everson spoke to Council regarding concerns over the planned construction times.
“The current time for construction is from August 2021 to January 2022, which is peak shopping time over the festive season,” he said.
“Is there any way that can be pushed back so we don’t lose business?
“Some retailers are saying they might not survive.”
Asset services director Brett Jackson replied Council would have to vote to defer the project for that to happen.
Mayor Margaret Thomas added the construction strategy would prevent loss.
“If you could see the way they have planned it, going in stages it’s really clever,” she said.
“You really won’t be as affected as you think you will.”
Kalamunda Council vote to approve the concept plan and move into the design finalisation and tendering at its March 23 meeting.