Fears shoppers are staying out of town

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
The main street redevelopment pain has moved south but Shire chiefs says roadworks are still on track to finish by Christmas.
Camera IconThe main street redevelopment pain has moved south but Shire chiefs says roadworks are still on track to finish by Christmas. Credit: Warren Hately

Main-street redevelopment pain has moved further up the hill but Augusta-Margaret River Shire chiefs remain adamant the project will finish in time for Christmas.

Traders along the northern stretch of Margaret River’s main street have rejoiced as new footpaths and streetscaping take shape — along with renewed access to shopfronts.

But traders as well as the Margaret River Chamber of Commerce remained concerned residents were avoiding shopping in town and a question mark continued to hang over the Shire-backed Local Is More campaign, which has amassed only a limited number of “pledges” to support local. Holiday-makers were also vocal in their disappointment at the roadworks during school holidays this week and restaurateurs told the Times they were doing public relations work on the town’s behalf.

Shire president Ian Earl said he was pleased to see progress in the upgrade.

“It’s starting to take shape and getting good reviews,” he said.

“We are locked in to a finish prior to Christmas.

“It is very much achievable as there is considerably less work required than in the previous stages.”

Shire project manager Peter Brown also confirmed there were no looming hiccups.

“We are working closely with (builders) BCP to achieve the planned December deadline,” he said.

The latest Shire information showed footpath construction has begun north of the Fearn Avenue intersection, with removal of east-side pavement planned after the school holidays.

Road surfacing on Fearn Avenue’s new festival precinct, which will be one-way only, would occur once stormwater connections to businesses were finished next week.

“The median strip kerb will be built from Settlers Tavern carpark towards Fearn Avenue,” a Shire spokesperson said.

“We’re getting closer to seeing some of the contours of the new festival precinct appear, with edgebeam kerbing footings due for construction next week.”

Within the hill precinct between Willmott and Wallcliffe Road, new water mains and stormwater drainage was under construction.

Next week, crews will connect stormwater drains to businesses from Fearn Avenue south on the west side of Bussell Highway.

Crews will also install electrical and irrigation sleeves for planned garden beds and electrical needs.

Chamber of Commerce president Melissa d’Ath said roadworks taking up most of the main street made trading conditions difficult. She encouraged residents to continue shopping locally despite the disruption.

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