TOWNS in Western Australia’s south will be revitalised following the WA Planning Commission’s endorsement of growth plans for nine “SuperTowns”.
The $85 million state government Regional Centres Development Plan, funded by the Royalties for Regions scheme, is aiming to stimulate private investment and population growth in Western Australia’s south.
The nine towns targeted under the plan are Boddington, Collie, Esperance, Jurien Bay, Katanning, Manjimup, Margaret River, Morawa and Northam.
Regional Development Minister Brendon Grylls told a business gathering last week the program would ensure towns in WA’s south were not left behind because of poor planning.
“It seemed sensible to me as we looked at the growth of Perth and (other regional areas) to look at the next tier down and see what was being planned for their growth,” Mr Grylls said.
“A bit like the Pilbara, nothing was being planned for their growth. It was a blank page.
“We’ve got incomplete jigsaws right across regional WA. For the employers trying to make their business case stack up for the mul-ti-billion dollar investments, it’s a lot better for them if there’s a happy, vibrant workforce and that’s the opportunity that exists.”
Mr Grylls said his experiences in the Pilbara region had shaped his intent to ensure that the government planned for growth in regional areas.
“The state of Western Australia knows a lot about not having planned outcomes because we live it every day in the Pilbara,” he said.
“The Pilbara is the quintessential example of a basket case. It wasn’t planned and then the community has had to put up with what they’ve got and struggle with it.
“We’re actually better than that. We’re wealthier, we’re richer and we’re better than providing those sorts of outcomes to people that call WA home, and especially in places that are driving the state and national economies.”
Mr Grylls said he hoped to see towns such as Collie transfonned to be seen as attractive places to live for young workers and their families rather than as drive-in, drive-out destinations.
The Shire of Collie will receive $11 million in funding to go towards creating a new central park, upgrading pedestrian links, developing laneways and enhancing youth and arts facilities, as well as upgrading the local river.