The streets of Gloucester are set to look brighter after MidCoast Council announced the Vibrant Spaces initiative will be permanent.
The initiative was first introduced in Taree and the Manning Valley in 2014 as a trial, with the council reporting an increase in sales and the number of people entering stores as a result. A parklet was also installed in Victoria Street, Taree in the initial trial period.
The project was then rolled out to Wingham, Old Bar and Harrington.
Footpath usage rose from 17 to 49 businesses with street engagement up from three per cent to 11.4 per cent following the trial.
More than 85 per cent of respondents to a survey noted an increase in street vibrancy as well.
A six month trial was then held in Gloucester, Bulahdelah, Tea Gardens, Hawks Nest, Pacific Palms and Stroud between December 5, 2016 to June 5, 2017.
With the trial complete, the footpaths along Park, Church, Denison and King streets in Gloucester can be used for any activity that could benefit the community or business.
Community stalls for not-for-profit organisations or busking are also welcome as part of the initiative.
MidCoast Council’s director of community spaces and services Paul De Szell said Gloucester businesses will soon see the benefits found in the Manning Valley.
“For businesses this means more visitors, who stay and enjoy the space for longer – and obviously the opportunity to translate this into store visitation.
“Research conducted after the initial trial showed that 74 per cent of businesses who embraced the initiative experienced an increase in foot traffic and sales turnover.
“Spin-off benefits included an improvement in perception of the town centres, and a boost in confidence in the commercial rental market,” Mr De Szell said.
“It’s certainly a fantastic initiative to support local businesses and the broader community and we’re excited to see a range of creative ideas to enhance the vibrancy of our town centres,” Mr De Szell said.
In undertaking the project in the MidCoast region, the council has advised of plans to adopt a new footpath activities policy.