Transform Mandurah: City outlines 'bold' plan for the future

The City of Mandurah has outlined its plans for a bold and "out-of-the-box" transformation over the next decade.

The announcement comes after councillors approved a short-term "sugar hit" plan to redevelop the local economy following COVID-19.

Restart Mandurah is an immediate effort to stimulate the sectors hit the hardest by the pandemic to help rebuild the economy.

The Transform Mandurah agenda, however, is a 10-year strategy to revitalise the city centre and diversify Mandurah's economy.

It's incredibly bold, but bold is what Mandurah needs.

Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams

The plan is broken down into four key parts.

The first is the creation of a commercial "heart" in the city centre, including the Woolworths precinct and George Robinson Gardens.

The civic square would include attracting a government agency to Mandurah, as well as transport connections, a pedestrian mall and retail precinct.

The second component of the plan includes establishing a waterways centre of excellence which would also be situated in the civic square.

The centre would bring industry, science and education together in one space with university courses run from the centre and local technology available to help Mandurah's waterways.

The City of Mandurah's 10-year Transform Mandurah plan includes the creation of a civic square in the city centre, as well as a waterways centre of excellence. Photo: Supplied.

The City of Mandurah's 10-year Transform Mandurah plan includes the creation of a civic square in the city centre, as well as a waterways centre of excellence. Photo: Supplied.

The third element aimed at transforming Mandurah is a tourism precinct linking the Mandurah Ocean Marina to the city centre, including an "international standard" hotel and convention centre.

The final initiative is the activation of the Yalgorup National Park, establishing it as an ecotourism hub.

The plan would include the creation of nature trails and campgrounds as well as Aboriginal tourism activities, all built to both protect and enhance the natural environment.

In an interview with the Mandurah Mail, mayor Rhys Williams described the plan as a "game changer".

"It's incredibly bold, but bold is what Mandurah needs," he said.

"I think that if this whole Transform Mandurah plan can be delivered over the next decade, we will have a city that is not just the beautiful place we love so much, but also a city that is known for its ambition."

Mr Williams said the coronavirus crisis had proven just how important it was to change and expand Mandurah's economy.

"I think COVID-19 has helped to emphasise the point that one of Mandurah's critical vulnerabilities is the lack of diversity in its economy," he said.

"Events like COVID-19 or economic downturns will happen and Mandurah will be hit hard in those circumstances because of the structure of its economy.

"When it comes to diversifying an economy, there aren't any quick fixes - you have to be prepared to take the long road.

"For a 18 months now, our big focus has been on coming up with a plan to diversify Mandurah and we want to see this plan come to full fruition over the next 10 years."

The plan is expected to start with the $22 million redevelopment of Mandurah's foreshores and Smart Street Mall.

"That's the first stage," the mayor said.

"Right now, our focus is on getting the concepts developed, doing the feasibility around those concepts and working with education providers, like universities and schools, to make sure that we're starting to foster an appetite for this type.

"We also recently presented to the premier, Regional Development Minister and Water Minister to get some idea of what sort of government investment would be required to make it happen."

Mr Williams said he expected that funding to be one of the biggest road blocks to fulfilling the Transform Mandurah vision.

"There will be lots of challenges along the way because we're dealing with an industry that is inventing itself as we go along," he said.

"Lifting the community's awareness of [the project] and having the community advocating for it is the essential answer to the funding issue.

"If everyone in Mandurah wants this Transform Mandurah agenda to be delivered on, then it will be."

We'll explore the four key concepts of Transform Mandurah in more detail over the coming weeks. What do you think about the plan? Email editor@mandurahmail.com.au.