Brad Pettitt

15 August, 2012 — Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt, whose plan to ban plastic bags in his town now looks likely to be replicated in another three local government areas in Perth, has now come up with 10  Commandments for medium density urban development.

Dr Pettitt, a former Dean of Sustainability at Murdoch University, said Fremantle was also currently concentrating on “a major urban renewal project”.

“Over the past two years I have visited a number of cities to see what separates the great cities, the sustainable ones, from those that don’t work,” he said.

And from his travels, and study, Dr Pettitt has created his own 10 Commandments for medium density urban development.

They are:

  • Diverse housing types, sizes and affordability
  • Investing in small, high quality public parks and spaces
  • Plenty of street trees
  • Ground level shops and cafes
  • Diverse ground floor usages and open hours
  • Embedding sustainability features into the design from the start
  • High quality and high frequency public transport, preferably light rail
  • Traffic calm streets
  • Not obsessing over the height of buildings
  • Mandating and integrating the above.

Dr Pettitt says he is a strong believer in getting the simple things right and letting the rest follow.

“We need streets which are not dominated by automobiles, we need walking cities, and great cities have places for the community to form, like an extension of their lounge room,” he said.

“Trees are also really important – they can disguise the worst architecture.

“Urban design can get quite detailed but it’s not that complicated.

“I think we forget the simple things too often – we overthink the detail.”

Dr Pettitt’s move on plastic bags could now be replicated in Leederville, Mt Lawley and North Perth after City of Vincent mayor and former WA Planning Minister Alannah MacTiernan said she was in favour of the move.

A report in the West Australian newspaper said: “Ms MacTiernan, who chairs the WA Local Government Association waste advisory council, met Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt last week and will order a report into whether the draft laws could work for the inner-city suburbs in Vincent, which stretches from Mt Hawthorn to East Perth”.

“It’s very plausible and very workable,” she said. “I’m keen to take it to our council and see if our people are prepared to come on board.

“It makes a huge amount of sense, it’s not onerous and we don’t believe it would be an impost.”

The City of Nedlands is also understood to be considering a ban.

Read the whole story Another bid to ban plastic bags

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Meanwhile, Dr Pettitt recently spoke at an event in conversation with Sydney sustainability advocate Michael Mobbs.

Dr Pettitt said he would trial Mr Mobb’s concept to cool city streets with Eco Pops or pop-up gardens consisting of mature trees and edible plants.

He said Mr Mobbs would soon be returning to take part in an “empirical study” into the gardens soon being carried out by council.

“It’s a very innovative idea. There’s no point just about focusing on housing and buildings, if the streets are so much hotter,” he said.

“Michael has been doing interesting research here with Curtin University on how cool streets will not only lower temperatures but also reduce the need for airconditioning for surrounding buildings – reducing greenhouse gas.

“The Eco Pop garden can fit into a car parking bay and not only shade the street but also offer a community garden. They have been shown to cool streets by one to two degrees.

“You just pop a full-sized tree into the garden and also have a water feature which recycles water for the tree and surrounding garden which can have herbs and other edible plants.”

Dr Pettitt said the city was looking at installing a number of Eco Pops over the next month and Mr Mobbs was due to return later this year.