Esperance businesses to join 'urban node trial'

The 'Urban Node' trial is expected to be underway this Christmas in the CBD. Photo: Jake Dietsch.
The 'Urban Node' trial is expected to be underway this Christmas in the CBD. Photo: Jake Dietsch.

Six businesses will be part of an alfresco trial over the next six months.

Council approved all six expressions of interest it received to be part of an 'Urban Node Trail'.

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The vote was 8-0, with Cr Steve McMullen having left the room after declaring an interest.

The nodes will create alfresco dining areas and public open space by modifying the parking layout.

The trial is expected to run from December to June 30, 2020.

Once the trial is finished, the issue will go back to the community for consultation. Council will then have to decide whether or not to create more permanent structures.

Five cafés and restaurants applied including Anywhere Café, Breakaway Café, Downtown Café, the French Hot Bread Shop and the Loose Goose.

Bike store Watt Lab also applied. In its application, Watt Lab said it wanted to display hire bikes and have a mobile 'Free House', providing pump and tool facilities to the community.

Shire staff considered the six submissions and had no concerns with any of them.

Three businesses indicated they were not supportive of the Urban Node Trial.

McCreeds Classique Jewellers objected because of the removal of carparks. Create & See said it supported more pedestrian activity, but were concerned about reduced parking available for its customers. Kal's Massage had concerns about disruption during construction of the nodes.

Businesses joining the trial also received support from neighbouring stores.

Esperance Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive officer Bronwyn Mcleod and shire representatives visited each business in the CBD to explain the project when the expressions were open.

It's expected to cost the shire about $3,000 for the 20m2 nodes and $5,000 for the 40m2 nodes. There will be two or three carparks lost, respectively, for each option.

Shire of Esperance chief executive officer Matthew Scott said the shire would begin constructing the nodes as soon as possible.

"We will be contacting the businesses that put in an expression of interest," he said.

"We're eager to get them in before the end of December."

Shire president Ian Mickel said the six-month trial would allow the community to see the pros and cons of the spaces in busy and quiet times of the year.

"Particularly, for the businesses too. They've got skin in the game and that will give them an indication of how it goes for them in the peak tourist season and the slower parts of the year," Cr Mickel said.

The shire plans to build the nodes with reused wooden pallets.