Shared Villages Project Receives Support of Residents and Businesses
Coogee residents and business owners have come out in support of the Shared Village Project, following its success over the summer holiday period. The project, an initiative of Randwick Council, converted the lower half of Coogee Bay Road into a one-way street to open up more land for shared pedestrian space.
The project was launched on October 28 last year and will remain in place until February 12. Despite the positive community reception so far, the changes are only temporary at this stage, with Randwick Council’s website only promising an extension if the initial trial proves successful. Council has said it will consider its extension pending a consultation of community responses, including mailing every household in Coogee with a letter inviting them to complete an online survey.
Randwick Mayor Danny Said feels the project has been a big success so far and given much-needed support to the businesses along Coogee Bay Road.
“It has been great to visit Coogee Bay Road and witness the happy, relaxed vibe, particularly in the evenings when the streetscape is lit up,” Mayor Said told The Beast.
“It’s a welcome change given the challenges businesses have faced this year, and I’m pleased Council was able to provide this for locals, businesses and visitors alike,” he said.
Coogee local Angie Simpson, an employee of Cargo clothing on Coogee Bay Road, said she welcomes the changes and hopes that they are here to stay.
“I think people were a bit unsure what to do with it at first, but now we’re all loving it. I think lots of people want to keep it, especially the one-way driving,” Ms Simpson told The Beast.
The project created 415 square metres of grassed areas with outdoor seating, allowing patrons of the Coogee Bay Road cafes and shops to interact while also practising social distancing. Live music, outdoor lighting and a photo booth area also feature at select times.
The additional seating has been particularly important to restaurants, who are currently operating at a lower capacity while observing the four-square-metre rule. It could also prove beneficial to businesses long-term by creating a vibrant outdoor dining precinct.
One café manager, who wished to remain anonymous, said they thought the seating arrangement was great, not only for local businesses but for the energy of a community emerging from a year of lockdowns and restrictions.
“It definitely adds to the colour of the street, and there’s really good energy,” they told The Beast.
Ms Simpson agreed that the Shared Village Project has brought out a new side of Coogee, creating a perfect space to relax in a year when travel is off the cards.
“I came down the other night and it felt like I was in Europe, especially with the music. It made me feel really proud of Coogee!” Ms Simpson said.
Even early in this trial stage, it is clear that the project has not only worked in favour of businesses but also served to revitalise a local sense of community and culture.
While it remains to be seen whether or not Randwick Council will commit to implementing the Shared Village Project long-term, the community response so far has been overwhelmingly positive and The Beast would like to see it become permanent.