There are 1.4 million more people coming to Perth. Here's where they'll live
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There are 1.4 million more people coming to Perth. Here's where they'll live

By Emma Young

As President Jed Bartlet said in TV series The West Wing, decisions are made by those who show up.

Similarly, the future of Perth will be influenced by those who take an active interest.

Today, WAtoday launches Big Perth, a series with the goal of ensuring residents are fully aware of the implications of the city’s growth plans to 2050.

The long-awaited Perth and Peel@3.5 million planning frameworks released in March set out the big-picture vision that will ultimately guide the detail of local council-level planning strategies and laws. They say where Perth should place the 800,000 new homes needed over three decades to house an almost doubled population, as well as the utilities and transport to support them.

Everywhere in Perth is changing. Inner suburbs will become much denser, with infill development representing 47 per cent of the 800,000 new homes. Meanwhile greenfield sprawl (53 per cent of new homes) will place dwellings on the city's fringes.

Home numbers in Perth, Victoria Park and Subiaco councils are planned to more than double by 2050.

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But these infill targets are dwarfed by greenfield dwelling targets set for the urban fringe, including:

  • 1000 per cent increase in homes in the Shire of Murray, around Pinjarra;
  • 400 per cent increase in the Serpentine Jarrahdale Shire
  • 350 per cent increase in Waroona
  • 200 per cent increase in the City of Wanneroo

There are four planning frameworks: Central, North-West, North-East and South. Over the coming week WAtoday will examine the frameworks for each individually, detailing how they could transform the streets, strips and suburbs we now know.

Sign up to WA Today's 'News Update' newsletter to receive each instalment of the Big Perth series delivered to your inbox.

Department of Planning director general Gail McGowan said the three-decade frameworks were not intended to be prescriptive but to manage development better than in the past.

“At one stage we had about 14 different development ‘fronts’, new housing estates going up in the northwest,” she said. “In the mid-2000s we had the enormous population explosion and we couldn’t really keep up with the supply of land identified as suitable for expansion.

We had developers coming in and developing land in a chequerboard, leapfrog approach and it put enormous pressure on our existing infrastructure.

Gail McGowan
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Ms McGowan said while the market yet hadn’t driven expansion down through Murray, Waroona and Serpentine Jarrahdale, these country towns were more appropriate for heavy development than the already “significantly constrained” northwest corridor, with far more potential for industrial and agricultural land uses and therefore employment.

About 1.4 million people are expected to make Perth home over the next 30 years.

About 1.4 million people are expected to make Perth home over the next 30 years.Credit:Fairfax Media

The big targets around places such as Pinjarra were not necessarily inevitable, she said, but if economic growth boomed in that region and stimulated demand, planning would be in place to guide it.

“Two decades ago, would we have envisaged Ellenbrook having the growth they have had?” she said.

Or, if changing attitudes to density meant the central region shouldered more development, the central local governments might greatly exceed their infill targets and take the pressure off the south.

Perth residents: look closer

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Like artists’ impressions, the planning frameworks show the big-picture vision that will ultimately guide the detail of local council-level planning strategies and laws.

Sometimes, when a community is shocked by local development or rezoning, it is because they were unaware of the detail of dense higher level planning documents such as this.

Here’s your chance to engage early and not be caught by surprise.

Read the full plan for your region here, and if you have an area you think we should investigate, let us know in the box below.

- with Conal Hanna

Emma Young is a Fairfax Media journalist based in Western Australia, breaking news with a focus on science and environment, health and social justice.