Report warns against Perth sprawl

More must be done to limit the urban sprawl of Perth and a particular focus on limiting the city’s car dependence, a new report from the University of Western Australia has found.

The report’s author, UWA’s Dr Julian Bolleter, said that the city is one of the most car dependent cities in the world, and that more must be done to offset the sprawl of the city.

“In response to its sprawling form, there have been repeated attempts by the State Government to deliver medium-density development in conjunction with public transport nodes but success has been limited,” Dr Bolleter said.

“Indeed, much of Perth’s infill development is being delivered through the subdivision of suburban backyards for low-density housing.”

Dr Bolleter said the report indicated that to achieve significant medium-density development, from terrace housing to low-rise apartments (ie two to five storeys) in Perth, minimum site areas and densities needed to be set for infill development.

“Development changes should aim to reduce low-density infill in suburban backyards, which threatens urban forests and suburban character and in turn aggravates local communities,” he said.

“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.

Dr Bolleter said the findings were important because if Perth failed to deliver coordinated medium-density development, it would continue to sprawl and densify in a manner that experts considered potentially inefficient, unhealthy, divisive and environmentally destructive.

“This has major implications for Perth’s livability, if not viability, in the face of the challenges of the 21st century,” he said.

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