Density, sprawl and Perth’s future

The Sunday Times and Perth Now have been running an impressive series on the future of Perth and the challenge of a sprawling metro area.

In response to week one which talked of a new blueprint for a more compact Perth ( I conveyed to the journo Peter Law my concern that a new Perth blueprint without more substantial incentives and penalties (or carrots and sticks) was not going to enable better urban infill to happen. Just having targets is clearly not enough unless you are going to actually do something to make them happen. Directions 2031 has had a 47% target for years and infill has tracked well below this (28 odd%) with no ramifications for anyone.

When a Council like Fremantle embarks on greater densities be at in the CBD or Stirling Hwy North Freo there is little support from anyone at a state level and all the community anger is directed solely at the Fremantle Council despite us trying to implement their Direction 2031 targets.

I said I was fascinated to see if this is really going to change or if it will be just loose, feel good “encouragement” of density?

In part two this week “900,000 new homes with the urban sprawl” ( ) it covered the interesting new research by Dr Julian Bolletar with comment from Dale Alcock, Nigel Satterly, the Planning Institute  and  myself. Here is my two cents worth in case you missed it:

THE State Government needs “to put its money where its mouth is” if it’s serious about stopping urban sprawl, according to City of Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt.

Fremantle has set a target of quadrupling the population of its CBD, currently home to just 850 people, by 2020, but Dr Pettitt said the City had received no support from the State to enable the growth.

He called for infrastructure funding to be given to those local governments delivering infill housing, arguing that the money should follow the people.

Dr Pettitt also suggested that local government infill targets be mandated to ensure it’s not only a handful of “progressive councils” that to do “all the heavy lifting”.

While the State Government sets the target of 47 per cent infill housing, it is councils who bear the brunt of local opposition when trying to implement the policy, he said.

When the City of Fremantle voted to increased building heights to up to seven to ten stories it was the single biggest debate for the community in a generation.

“The State Government needs to take a more interventionist approach if it’s serious about this. There is little value in having another document with a series of blue-sky outcomes that don’t have any teeth to back them up,” Dr Pettitt said.

“You need to restrict growth on the urban fringe. That may not be an absolute urban growth boundary, but at the moment the land releases are encouraging the sprawl. It’s almost too easy and it continues to be the main form of housing growth. Urban fringe growth is now sitting above 70 per cent.

“You look at any other city in Australia and we are so far behind. Sydney has more apartments being built every year than it does houses. Perth is certainly a long way behind that trend.”

Dr Pettitt said Fremantle’s economic future ultimately depends on more people living and working in the heart of Freo.

“The State Government needs to put its money where its mouth is and actually follow where the people are going to go with infrastructure investment,” he said.

“The danger of not having mandated targets is that you will find a couple of progressive local governments doing all the heavy lifting while everybody else will just sit back and think, ‘we don’t need to do anything because they are’.”

Perth sprawl

About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

One Response to Density, sprawl and Perth’s future

  1. Reblogged this on Local Govt. and Subiaco and commented:
    Vibrancy anyone? Discuss.

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