As Perth tries to keep a lid on urban sprawl, industry experts argue that the city’s current plan of lower-density infill development is far from the best solution.
Julian Bolleter from The Universty of Western Australia said Perth is one of the lowest density and most car-dependent cities in the world. While there have been attempts by the government to deliver medium-density development to limit urban sprawl, success has been elusive.
“Indeed, much of Perth’s infill development is being delivered through the subdivision of suburban backyards for low-density housing,” he said.
For Bolleter, minimum site areas and densities needed to be set for infill development in order to attain significant medium-density development. He argued that development changes should be able to address low-density infill in suburban backyards, which puts urban forests and suburban character at risk.
“Doing so will allow impetus to build over time around coordinated medium-density development, in appropriate forms and locations. Such medium-density housing with well-designed, high-amenity, community setting can provide increased housing choices and a healthier, more sustainable city,” Bolleter said.
For this to be a reality, Bolleter believes there should be greater consistency between local and state government. Stakeholders should also consider seeking alternative construction technologies that are already being used in other areas.
If Perth fails to zero in on the problem at the closest possible time, Bolleter predicts that the city will continue to sprawl at an inefficient, unhealthy, and divisive manner. This situation will also be destructive to the environment.
“This has major implications for Perth’s livability, if not viability, in the face of the challenges of the 21st century,” he said.