Ellenbrook in WA, which won an award for being the world's best master-planned community this year.

More compact, healthier communities with a greater focus on active and public transport could be coming to Western Australia, thanks to a new policy released by the Western Australian Planning Commission for public comment.

The revised draft of the Liveable Neighbourhoods policy has been developed to guide the design of new communities in the Perth and Peel areas, as well as regional centres across WA.

“As we move towards accommodating 3.5 million people across Perth and Peel by 2050, it is important we have all of the supporting frameworks in place,” WA planning minister John Day said.

“The draft Liveable Neighbourhoods policy provides direction to developers and local governments when undertaking structure plans and subdivisions to establish new developments.”

The policy features design principles that include street networks prioritising walking, cycling and public transport over the private car; site responsive design; suitable density and diversity; integrated public open space; and sustainable utility services.

It takes into account six key areas necessary for liveable neighbourhoods: community design, movement network, activity centres, lot design, public open space and education.

“Liveable neighbourhoods that are sustainable, safe, accessible and attractive are shaped by careful planning and good design,” Mr Day said.

“These neighbourhoods are formed through a network of interconnected, pedestrian-friendly streets, linked with public open space and facilities that meet the recreational, social and health needs of existing and future communities.

“This draft policy reflects the changing community needs in Perth and Peel. The draft policy provides an innovative template to create vibrant, liveable communities that are underpinned by sound planning principles and site-responsive design.”

The draft policy has nine key objectives, which are to:

  • achieve a sustainable urban structure that balances the provision of urban development through site-responsive design
  • develop a coherent urban system of compact walkable neighbourhoods which cluster around activity centres capable of facilitating a broad range of land uses, employment and social opportunities
  • provide a network of interconnected streets based on function within attractive, safe and pedestrian friendly streetscapes, which facilitates accessibility for all users to, within and between neighbourhoods and activity centres
  • promote mixed use development and activity centres that optimise commercial opportunities, access to public transport and efficient street network connections
  • plan for public open space that meets the recreational, social and health needs of existing and future communities
  • ensure that water is protected and managed to maximise efficiency by incorporation of urban water management techniques into the urban design
  • facilitate housing diversity, responsive built form, local employment and amenity within a coherent and efficient urban structure of compact walkable neighbourhoods
  • provide education sites and other community infrastructure to meet the needs of existing and future communities
  • provide utility services in a land efficient, environmentally responsible and sustainable manner

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  1. I hope the policy makers have included the principles of the WHO Age Friendly Cities and Communities Guidelines. This article makes it sound as if we are all 35 years old with primary school children and not a bodily function untouched by accident or genetics. (Does that sound like an archetypal policy maker?) Think about footpaths on both sides of the road with no breaks in paths of travel, seating, lighting, wayfinding and toilets. These five features are essential for keeping older people active and out and about.