Pandemic has created seismic shifts across Perth creating challenges and opportunities

A new report reveals Perth’s urban core hollowed out as people’s habits related to working, community, shopping and recreating changed due to COVID-19 lockdowns with local suburban centres the beneficiaries.

Committee for Perth’s latest FACTBase Bulletin reviews the intra-mobility trends in Greater Perth from February 2020 to August this year providing insights into shifts across the region. The Bulletin 77 highlights that the rebound from snap lockdowns in WA has been slower in Perth than in other Local Government Areas (LGAs).

The research shows that the Greater Perth region has become a ‘donut’ with visitors to the urban core down by an average of 28.5% for the past 18 months. This is almost 36 times greater than the metropolitan average (0.8%).

Region-wide, the analysis shows that of the 30 LGAs in Greater Perth, 11 have seen visitor numbers for retail and recreation grow consecutively in the three months leading to August 2021. Belmont and Gosnells LGAs are particular stand-out performers, with a 14.3% and 11.5% average increase in visitation over the past 18 months.

Committee for Perth CEO Marion Fulker AM, said the quick rebound of suburban centre visitation and the subsequent slower rebound of the Perth CBD, is a flow-on effect from the new flexible ways of working that have been established for non-essential and non-front line workers by employers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Pre-pandemic, Perth’s CBD accommodated more than 140,000 workers. Since early last year, many were forced to develop new ways of working and as a result of this we’re seeing key trends emerge which may have longer-term impacts,” Mrs Fulker said. In addition to an analysis on visitation across Greater Perth, FACTBase Bulletin 77 highlights a number of planning and infrastructure considerations as the city transitions to the new world of work.

“The research shows substantial changes in the use of public transport, with transit station numbers down across all Local Government Areas in Greater Perth. On the contrary, the number of cars on the roads of Greater Perth is increasing. This sparks a flow-on effect for localised traffic volumes that are experiencing an increase in congestion,” Mrs Fulker said.

Additional findings from the Bulletin include:

  • 11 LGAs have seen visitor numbers for retail/recreation in positive territory for the period February 2020 – August 2021. The ‘top 3’ LGAs were Belmont (14.3%); Gosnells (11.5%); and Mundaring (10%). The ‘bottom 3’ performing councils (excluding Perth) were Murray and Subiaco (both on -6.0%); Vincent (-10.1%); and Fremantle (-12.5%).
  • Perth’s CBD has shown a steady rebound in public transport use, down by only 8.8% in August 2021.
  • Visitor numbers to Perth City are down by an average of 28.5% for the past 18 months. This is almost 36 times greater than the metropolitan average (0.8%).
  • People living in inner-metropolitan LGAs such as Victoria Park, Vincent, South Perth and Perth spent longer periods at home than their outer-metropolitan counterparts over the past 18 months.

FACTBase Bulletin 77 follows on from the Committee for Perth’s recently released The Future of Work — a comprehensive report that, with its 22 recommendations, aims to equip WA and its people for the changing world of work.