COMMISSIONERS at the City of Perth made a big call setting a goal of 90,000 people within their borders by 2050, so we invited former Perth council planning director Max Hipkins to take a look over the new Strategic Community Plan.
Mr Hipkins was director of planning at Perth from 2000 to 2005, and mayor of Nedlands for two terms between 2011 and 2019.
He reckons the plan to increase the city’s projected population up from the current estimate of 58,000 by 2050 is “worth trying,” though the SCP didn’t thrill him overall.
What can I say about the current SCP?
A fairly bland, steady as she goes, document… the most significant feature is increasing the population target to 90,000 by 2050.
My view is it is worth trying, with the carrots and sticks the city has available – it could, for example, give greater rate concessions for residential use and require a mandatory percentage of low income housing in residential projects. The more people there are the safer the streets will be and the more services will be provided.
While the document mentions some current issues – such as homelessness, anti-social behaviour, lack of a city university, rising urban heat and the importance of tree canopy – it does not indicate how seriously it takes these situations or how they will be tackled.
Urban heat, for example, can be expected to demand significant responses as all Australian capital cities will experience average temperatures of 50 degrees celcius by 2050.
The only practicable way of combatting the heat build-up is by greening the city and using the cooling effects of landscaping.
It is possible to require landscaping with new buildings but to do so would be a radical change.
The document does not address matters such as the need for a city swimming pool, an Aboriginal Cultural Centre or an improved inner city transport system.
What happened to plans for light rail through the City Centre?
Perth is a linear city and it is a long way from East Perth to Kings Park, with many a wait at traffic lights.
What about extensions of pedestrian malls in Hay and Murray Streets?
Or introducing more pedestrian phases in traffic lights after each motor traffic movement?
The document could have flagged many things to stir the imagination. Unfortunately, the only thing worth commenting on is the increased population target.”