Main street still has room for improvement in Wellington

2020 is going to be a big year for Wellington. 

Great things are happening. Unprecedented expenditure in Council infrastructure is rolling out across the town. However, there is still that elephant in the room that seems to slide under the radar too much – that is the empty shops and dilapidated buildings in the CBD.

To be completely honest, empty shops gives the impression that a town is in decline.  We know with Wellington that is not the case.  In fact since amalgamation, there has been significant investment and a bump in population. Wellington is on the up but it is certainly hard to tell that story with so many empty shops about.

There are numerous reasons for a drop in the town’s commercial sector.

Firstly there is a general contraction of retail spending and therefore retail floor space across Australia in general. The rise of online spending and giants like Amazon and eBay have hit small retailers hard. 

Added to that much larger retailers like Woolies and Coles have made one-stop grocery shopping by having a giant range of produce at cheap prices and that has also directly hit small town retailers.

We also must accept some home truths.  That is that we have some landlords, largely from out of town, who are simply not keeping their properties in good condition and are in fact letting the town down.  There is no need to name the individual properties because we can all see for our own eyes some of the eyesore buildings.

But this leads to the question on what exactly can be done by Dubbo Regional Council and the community in order to reverse the retail decline.

Its stating the obvious that Council cannot simply just demand that retailers like Target reopen a Wellington store. However there are things that Council can do that will generate interest in the Wellington retail environment that will pay dividends. 

I was most impressed with the initiative of the Wellington Chamber to invite Council to do a #buylocalorbyelocal campaign. This promotion directly increased retail spending in the community. I am heartened to read that the new chamber president Jess Gough is pushing for even further retail promotion in conjunction with Council. 

But promotion isn’t just the thing that will bring new shops and more dollars. I’m pleased to report that a new toilet block will be constructed at Cameron Park and the demolition of unsightly and out-of-date facilities will commence soon. Cameron Park will soon see the opening of an Aboriginal Cultural Centre that will also draw tourists and visitors alike. 

Added to that the $4 million new Wellington Caves Experience Centre is set to attract greater number to the caves complex once it is operational in the coming month. 

I agree with the Wellington Chamber.  If the business community, residents and Council work together in a positive fashion, we can turn around the fortunes of the main street and start to see some of those empty shops open again.

Last Edited: 18 Feb 2020

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