We need a new model for local place management, with enhanced assistance to local precincts to foster more distinctive, place-specific, main-streets local precincts’ competition – and better-resourced coordination. Combined with turbo-charging Renew Adelaide’s efforts at transforming vacant shop-front and upper level activation, our unique local precincts can create a chorus of reasons for returning to the city – to work, to shop, to recreate – and to live. Distinctiveness between precincts supports a more dynamic cultural economy.


Precincts are not simply main streets – our city on a grid is three dimensional. Some precincts have niche sub-areas – the side streets, the laneways, and even the upper levels.

While the branding for the city may be ‘a City Designed for Life’ – this means a city designed for people. People are tribal – people are place proud.

As a Central Ward trader (Imprints Booksellers) I spent decades activating and delivering value above and beyond my own business through my local precinct trader group. I rolled up my sleeves and put in above and beyond. This effort saw me elected to City Council in 2000.

Rebuilding the city economy will take both personal energy at an enterprise level, plus collective effort. In an open market, striking the right balance between competition and collaboration is essential. It also requires marketing resources and clever branding coordination

For 30 years, successive Council administrations have been choking place-based enterprise and promotion by fixing at the same level the annual grants to precinct organisations that seek to facilitate collaborative marketing and place management. With the exception of Rundle Mall and the Central Market, which have established place-based authorities and levies, the other precinct groups have been hindered in their efforts. If you can’t afford better place coordination, you will simply never achieve place progress. Most traders and individual building owners are just too busy simply surviving to invest scarce additional time in logistics and day-to-day precinct coordination for the greater good.

Across the Central Ward in particular, but equally so for North and South Wards, every vacant shop-front needs to be temporarily activated. Artists and other applied creatives who cannot aFort market rentals can help improve local street safety and building security. Renew Adelaide Inc is a well-established model that must be supported to expand its reach.

Equally, Renew Adelaide is not a charity. Beyond existing core grants, performance-based grant funding incentives could turbo-charge their existing efforts. Match funding models that create incentives is a smart market-based approach. It is not a level playing field – and nor should it be. Rate discretion can be a tool to encourage good behaviours and to discourage negative outcomes.

By all means, explore better coordination of local effort. But for goodness sake – Council must stop starving local precinct leadership of their incentive to step up and contribute wisdom and experience. Central Ward ratepayers do not feel well enough supported or heard by their Elected Members. Leadership is more about effective listening than it is about pontification and back-stabbing. Elected Members need to be more engaged with the local precinct groups.

With my decades of hands-on city retail experience plus decades of pubic and cultural sector leadership – and a track record for making really big things happen – I offer experience you can trust!