Advocacy in Action - Design WA Expert Workshop

Medium-density development in Perth is often referred to as the ‘missing middle’ in our urban composition, yet findings from the expert workshop revealed that Perth has more of a ‘misshapen middle’. Its medium-density development is often poorly located and lacking social and environmental amenity. So how does Perth’s version of medium-density compare to Sydney and Melbourne and what can we do to change the current guiding policy?

During the workshop, visiting interstate design professionals from panovscott (Sydney), Architours (Melbourne) and Other Architects (Sydney) shared some images of best and worst examples of medium-density development that they had seen during site tours across Perth and each provided a short presentation on their observations.

They found that while the outer and newer suburbs of Greater Perth were achieving good amenity, medium density within the inner suburbs was struggling. It was observed that on average, about 40% of the land on a residential block was devoted to car parking and driveway space — sometimes the same amount of space given to the housing itself. This highlighted the need for a better-integrated transport system within the existing residential area so as to decrease car dependence and start to better utilise the space that cars currently occupy.

In terms of planning policy, it was noted that the nature of residential codes (R-codes) can be counter-intuitive to integrated planning and design. Amenities such as gardens and street trees are continually at risk of ‘extinction’ as there is currently no obligation to meet sustainability or design standards in planning policy.

We are very grateful to the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage’s Design WA team for collaborating with us on the event and to the Chairman of the WAPC, David Caddy who co-hosted the workshop. It was great to have our members involved in a dynamic discussion with interstate professionals to reform Perth’s misshapen middle.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Committee For Perth acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.