The Liveable Neighbourhoods Code, now in its third edition, has been operating as an ’optional’ policy for ten years. In this status, it has been widely used and has been highly influential on the form of urban extensions in Perth, with the end of conventional car-based suburban extensions very evident.
Perth’s national leadership in high quality New Urbanist projects was well-demonstrated in a recent three-day tour of key projects in this fast-growing city. The Australian Council For New Urbanism hosted over 100 professional designers, regulators and developers from across Australia and New Zealand on a comprehensive inspection of recent mixed-use, walkable urban developments in inner, middle and urban fringe contexts.
The tour included presentations explaining the unique WA planning context that has contributed to both the capacity for and interest in delivering markedly more sustainable and walkable urbanism in WA. The focus on outcomes is in part the result of a stronger development role for state land agencies, state responsibility for subdivision approvals, a far less adversarial approvals process and competitiveness between developer/designer teams.
The itinerary included the exceptionally successful inner urban regeneration areas of Subi Centro and East Perth, and the regenerating area of central Midland. The powerful role of redevelopment agencies in all three is evident. Subi Centro is impressive not only for its diverse urban housing and beautifully-detailed public spaces, but also for its extensive amount of new commercial office space, in well-scaled contemporary yet contextual urban buildings. East Perth is maturing well around the dual spines of Royal Street and the Claisebrook Inlet, with shops, offices and housing all integrated into the consistent three-five storey scale of the precinct.
The revitalisation of Midland, shaped by a major charrette in 1997, is now well-underway, with major infrastructure complete, mixed use and other housing under construction, a new major hospital committed and the historic railway workshops beginning to be transformed.
Within the established urban area, Ascot Waters showcased medium density housing and a range of creative urban/water interface treatments, including a marina. At Joondalup City Centre, well-designed mixed-use infill over the past ten years, together with strong government investment in health and education facilities, has transformed this formerly spread-out placeless node into an attractive multi-storey urban place with vibrancy and interest.
On the urban fringe, the combined effect of the Liveable Neighbourhoods Code and WA Government investment in rail extensions is evident, with the tour visiting two emerging transit-oriented developments. Whilst still beset by some challenges including integrating supermarkets into main street mixed-use developments, and achieving multi-storey development on the fringe, these urban extension projects nevertheless showcase the massive transformation of fringe growth in Perth in just ten years, from pure sprawl to Australian New Urbanism.
The tour was also a special experience because of the high level of discussion and debate that occurred. Despite the overall impressiveness of the projects, there were plenty of criticisms of detail, and opportunities to learn how to do things better… an important legacy of ten years of construction experience! If only we had the same number and range of examples in other states to learn from…Western Australia has set the pace!
Australian New Urbanism (2nd Edition)
The Australian Council for New Urbanism has just released the 2006 edition of the guide to projects across Australia regarded as demonstrating the principles and practice of New Urbanism. There are 87 projects featured in this edition. Each project is summarised on one page, with a brief description, plans or photos, and key project details, including location. A key purpose of the guide is to enable people to visit these projects and study the built outcomes.
For copies, request an order form from [email protected] Cost is $35.
Liveable Neighbourhoods Edition 3 can be downloaded from www.wapc.wa.gov.au, under Publications, “L”.