7 May 2013 — The Property Council of Australia has teamed up with the Australian Greens for a study into the redevelopment potential along seven of Perth’s major urban arteries.

The report, Regenerating transport corridors as a network of High Street precincts, uncovered the potential for seven of Perth’s transport corridors to accommodate between 94,500 and 252,000 new dwellings at medium to high density scenarios.

At a medium density of 80 dwellings per hectare, just seven of Metropolitan Perth’s future High Streets could accommodate 100 per cent, or 126,007 dwellings, of the Directions 2031 target of 124,000 dwellings to 2031.

At a medium-high density development Perth’s future High Streets could accommodate 126 per cent, or 157,508 dwellings of the Directions 2031 infill target. The total developable land supply along seven of Perth’s high streets 1575 hectares.

Property Council of Australia executive director Joe Lenzo said the report showed there was support across the political divide for medium and high density developments in underutilised areas along Perth’s transport corridors.

Joe Lenzo

“New developments in these places will provide Western Australia’s growing population with new and affordable homes”, said Mr Lenzo.

The Australian Urban Design Research Centre also partnered in the research.

Transport corridors studied include Charles Street, Scarborough Beach Road, South Street, Great Eastern Highway and Albany Highway.

Only parcels of land adjoining the seven corridors were included in the study and there has been special protection for state and local heritage, local parks and open spaces and civic places including schools, hospitals, pools, churches and community centres.

The report stated:

Perth is overstretched and under developed. A 2008 study mapped the vulnerability to changing transport, inflation and mortgage prices in Australian cities between the census periods 2001– 2006. It showed those living long distances from work, education and services and without close proximity to public transport will be the worst affected by rising fuel and housing costs.

Perth’s metropolitan area is now one of the largest cities in the world by land size. Unlike other cities of a similar physical size we are very sparsely settled. Perth’s physical size is roughly the same size as Los Angeles and Tokyo, but has only one tenth and one twentieth of their populations.

The size of our city and the way its growth has impacted on our natural environment and heritage and is currently the subject of a Strategic Environmental Assessment, due to be released in late 2013. The report will assess the health and status of Perth’s ecological communities, threatened species, wetlands of international importance and national heritage places and will identify areas that are appropriate or not for development so that these with the strongest values will be protected. If done well, this will provide certainty to the community and development industry.

The report found Perth’s greatest challenges included:

  • Highest growth rate of all Australian cities.
  • Accelerated population growth occurring mostly long distances from the CBD.
  • Growth mainly occurring long distances from employment, services and amenity.
  • Accelerated loss of biodiversity and natural habitats.
  • Water scarcity and reduced rainfall.
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts are urgent.
  • Productivity depends on reducing congestion and attracting new businesses and provide new employment hubs.
  • Significant housing supply gap and housing affordability at unprecedented levels, with Perth recognised as one of the least affordable markets in the world.
  • Little choice of housing type and location, with a shortage of semi-detached houses and apartments.
  • Increasing patronage of public transport not matched with sufficient investment in the network.
  • The car is still the primary mode of transport, accounting for 90 per cent of all trips taken in Perth.

However it found there were many economic, social and environmental benefits of infill development, particularly when it occurred at the precinct level.

Among those were:

  • Protect existing suburbs and bring new services and amenities closer to existing residents.
  • Deliver jobs to local areas.
  • Make public transport systems more viable and reduce car dependency and traffic congestion.
  • Make more efficient use of existing infrastructure and services and diversify and strengthen local economies.
  • Embrace the pressing need to regenerate our middle suburbs.
  • Reduce the cost of living and make living in Perth more affordable.
  • Have positive impacts on human health and increase local character and create a stronger sense of place.
  • Use less energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and use less water while preserving urban bushland and coastal habitats.

The report also found that it would enable preservation of urban farmland and productive agricultural areas.

“Food security and local production is becoming increasingly important in a changing climate. Well-designed infill developments can also increase opportunities for community local food production for example through the inclusion of rooftop food gardens or one parking lot allocated or converted to a community garden rather than parking.”

Mr Lenzo said the report proposed “an elegant balance between protecting our suburbs and finding long-term and sustainable solutions for Perth’s future”.

“Perth still will need to develop outward and land development is still critical however this report demonstrates we can deliver much more infill development.”

A PDF copy of the report is available here.

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