Debating Perth’s Density Challenge


These ideas were widely covered by the media.


Limit urban sprawl, says Freo mayor
Perth’s northern suburbs are moving north.

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt wants to stop Perth’s urban sprawl by defining its boundary and refusing development beyond it.

Dr Pettitt said Perth should “bite the bullet” and decide how big the metropolitan area could become.

“What are going to be the levers to stop us continuing to sprawl unless we just bite the bullet and say let’s define where is it going to stop,” he told a Perth business function yesterday.

“Until we know and are clear that land on the fringes is finite, we will just keep using it because we have a very big State and we can just keep smearing ourselves across it.

“We have a lot of land already set aside, we’ve got land already to take us to 2050 — my view is that’s it, no more.”

Dr Pettitt argued an urban boundary would support higher land prices, prevent the creation of unsustainable communities and promote infill development, which is about three times as expensive as building on the fringes.

“Knowing there’s a finite level to which we can sprawl gets us to take seriously planning around density,” he said.

“If we don’t do anything differently, we’ll go all the way from Myalup up to Lancelin…because there’s nothing stopping us.”

Planning Department director-general Gail McGowan said Perth had some natural boundaries, including the Darling Scarp and the ocean, but there were problems with imposing a “hard and fast boundary”.

“The work the WA Planning Commission has done is very much predicated on a compact, connected city and not having this continued sprawl because we simply can’t sustain that in terms of servicing,” she said.

There were enough lots to sustain the population into the future without extensive sprawl and she supported initiatives to encourage higher density in the right places.

A compact city made better use of infrastructure but a strict boundary might not be easy to impose because there could be sensible reasons to develop certain places. At present, the metropolitan area went about 150km.

“We think there are better ways to build a city and encourage the sort of urban places that people will want to live in,” Ms McGowan said.

The West Australian


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

3 Responses to Debating Perth’s Density Challenge

  1. freoishome says:

    Interesting to read your thoughts on this. However as this involved others, ie, Gail McGowan (Director General, Department of Planning) and Tanya Trevisan (TRG Properties), did they have anything to say. Your attached media reports imply Tanya didn’t and Gail was rather vague about the practicality of setting a finite boundary.

    I agree with your suggestion to set a boundary, both from actually establishing a physical limit, but also to it being the catalyst for fresh thinking.

    In addition to Rethinking Perth Infill, in my opinion we need a parallel project to build two new Metro sized cities for WA. Perth cannot remain “All things, to all, in perpetuity”. In practice we don’t have a ‘WA Planning Dept’ we have a ‘Perth Centric Planning Dept’, the thought of Perth being 3.5m is quite repulsive. A mega city will bring Mega problems, and we already see some of those today.

    It doesn’t matter what size or the location of development in Perth, the locals, are now often branded as anti development by developers, State gov’t and even their local councils, for standing up, for being the custodians of their locales amenity. If they don’t do it who will? So every development becomes a them and us conflict, which in most cases locals loose.

    Rethink Perth Freight Link is another example of the growing tension. This has now brought together a number of what were totally separate, areas of conflict, Save Beeliar wetlands, Road to Rail, to name but two close to freo.

    As you say, land and transport planning need to be considered as one. Transporting 600,000 containers pa on our roads, ie half a million individual HGV trips, instead of less than 2000 freight rail trips, seems a no brainer, that our senior staff at the Depts of Planning and Transport as well as Conservative Politicians can’t get their heads around, due it seems to dogma.

    If we identified two locations, for arguments sake lets call them Pilbara and Great Southern Cities, ie, land areas of 500sq kms, half of the current Perth. This would become a developer dream. Developers need this scale if they are to have the industrial infrastructure and labour force to build in location separated from Perth. There has to be longevity for developers and their support industries, eg, brickworks, pre-fabrication, roof trusses, window and doors, plumbing and electrical, bathroom and kitchen, on a scale that their basic material need to supplied in shipped quantities not trucked. The development scale of the ‘money for regions’, just can’t deliver!

    Building these two metros, with an ambitious target, eg, 250,000 each by 2050, would take the pressure and much of the conflict out of Perth development. Allowing Perth to grow at an evolutionary rather than the current revolutionary pace.

    WA would be the only State with 3 Metros, a place of significant power and influence, no longer the Gallahs, that those over east take us to be!

    • Paul
      Fascinating ideas and certainly worthy of debate. I do wander how easy it would be to persuade people to move into a whole new city. I also think when you have current activity centres like Freo, Amradale, Rockingham, Joondellup all calling out for more people and jobs that move might be premature?
      cheers, Brad

      • freoishome says:

        I suspect that your idea to establish a development boundary, is also not high in likelihood. But combined with my suggestion it might make greater sense, ie, limit sprawl with a boundary, as the focus is switching to more expansive planning in two other locations. This could be to freo’s benefit. The port ops land would reduce, CoF could take this into its city boundary. Then develop the connection of the City and ocean, based on activity. Armadale and Joondalup, don’t have the ocean connect (Freo’s is currently more rhetoric than physical), and Freo has a broader recreational background than Rockingham, so it has other things to work on, that the Perth people will still want, but also guests from the other Metros will want- “Stay in freo when you visit Perth!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: