16 Oct 2019

Perth has changed a lot over the last 30 years, but what’s in store for the next 30? 

What will Perth City look like in 2050?

There have been increasing calls from both industry and community for a unified vision for Perth City. The importance of the City goes beyond municipal boundaries. The ability for the City to attract residents, business and visitors is intrinsically linked to the future prosperity and wellbeing of our region. Establishing a united future vision between all levels of government will be key in making this happen.

Globally, it is evident that cities rather than nations are the economic drivers and determinants for regions.  Cities are increasingly needing to compete to attract companies, capital and intellect.  As Perth grows and matures, what will be our identity and reason for people to come to live, work and visit? 

Chris Melsom, Design Director at Urbis said, “In recent years Perth has done well to create great projects such as the stadium, Elizabeth Quay, and The Link. What we seem to lack is an overall plan of how all these projects work together to help form part of a better city and how we can better link these projects together”.

To help drive and guide debate, Urbis presents our thoughts on the nine catalysts for a better City in 2050.

1. A City connected to the Swan – Elizabeth Quay is an exciting start, however expanding the connection of the City and Swan River will create more opportunities to interact and interface with the water.

2. A City Icon – Delivery of the National Indigenous Cultural Centre, celebrating our Indigenous heritage and culture in an iconic venue. 

3. A Smart City – Delivering a full university campus within the CBD, bringing student life, activity and innovation to the City will increase our ability to attract bright minds from around the world.

4. A Creative City – A focus on art and culture being interwoven into the urban landscape including the Perth Concert Hall performing arts precinct and Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA).

5. A Living City – More people living in the central city, however this being supported by delivering schools, amenities and community facilities, open space and high quality streets.  An integrated high-rise school and community recreation centre perhaps?

6. A Green City – Greening the landscape and creating shade and shelter – both on the ground and on the buildings.

7. A Connected City – Expanding the transport network to include urban transit (light rail or trackless trams) to create clear and legible connection among the urban villages of central Perth. Making better use of the river to connect at key nodes.

8. A Beautiful and Diverse City – Using place curation, art and landscape to create distinct and beautiful urban neighbourhoods. As well as, events and festivals to bring together the wider Perth community to celebrate together.

9. A Resilient City – Responding to climate change to ensure we are protecting and restoring our urban waterfront and that the development contributes to the quality of our natural and built environment.

Perth City Vision - Urbis
Future Perth – a united vision. Click to enlarge.

Determining a collective vision in Perth is essential, but how could this be done?  We can take lessons from cities like Auckland and Brisbane who have developed a master plan to guide not just the development framework, but the driving projects and infrastructure required to fulfil their vision.

There is another driver to aligning Local, State and Federal Government – the opportunity to leverage significant infrastructure funding through a compelling City Deal. A united voice and articulate vision for the future makes a compelling proposition for funding.

Perth is a fantastic city to live in, and there are so many opportunities we can take advantage of to make it even better for the future.

Chris Melsom View Profile

Chris said, “Perth is a fantastic city to live in, and there are so many opportunities we can take advantage of to make it even better for the future. We have one of the best waterways in the country but have very little engagement with it. Areas such as Elizabeth Quay are an excellent example of how we can activate the river to create a successful cultural city precinct.”

“To help illustrate the possibilities, we have developed an image of what the future of Perth could look like in 2050 – if we take an active role in developing a clear city master plan. This image shows an example of how we can better develop the areas along the river and improve connections to the rest of the city. It can provide pride of place for people, music, art, conversation and the enjoyment of the outdoors.”

There has been some great work done by individual groups including Committee for Perth and Perth City Summit however we now need to see a clear, collective and detailed vision linked to prioritisation and delivery. 

We have a distinct window of opportunity. The current situation with Commissioners may offer an opportunity to gain some alignment between the City of Perth and the State Governments. There is also a real appetite by the Federal Government for Infrastructure funding linked to City Deals. There may even exist appetite among the various municipalities that make up the city, including South Perth, Victoria Park, Vincent and Subiaco to work together on a shared vision.

The Federal Government has billions in funding set aside for urban infrastructure projects around the country – including projects like METRONET here in Perth. Urbis feels that projects like these should be leveraged and used to improve density and amenity in areas close to the CBD as well as to reduce commute times. Increasing transport options and connections to all areas of the city is also important for future growth.

As part of a new master plan for Perth, we should look to create a more distinctive identity for the city to attract top talent and increase tourism.

David Cresp View Profile

David Cresp, Director at Urbis said, “As part of a new master plan for Perth, we should look to create a more distinctive identity for the city to attract top talent and increase tourism. We should also consider how we can continue to make the most of our natural advantages in mining, oil and gas while also looking for diverse opportunities that leverage our location to Asia to export more than just raw products but downstream processing, education and services.”

Perth can learn from other cities that have successfully transformed their identity with a clear city vision, like Brisbane. The Queensland capital has been implementing its master plan for the past 15 years by identifying key infrastructure projects. This included Howard Smith Wharves which has revitalised the riverbank into a world-class sustainable tourism, recreation and event destination, creating a truly Brisbane lifestyle experience.

Chris Melsom concluded, “Cities evolve. It’s therefore more about having a resilient framework based on the qualities, characteristics and culture that can be implemented through projects and infrastructure – than it is about setting population growth targets. That way Perth’s City vision can be flexible to constant renewal, adaptation, intergenerational change and developing technology.”

David Cresp View Profile
Chris Melsom View Profile
Ray Haeren View Profile
Sean Morrison View Profile