The great cities we all want to visit are so much more than just a bunch of amazing points of interest and cultural experiences, according to Sandy Anghie.
If you think about the great cities of the world, the places we all want to visit – whether its London, Paris or New York – they are so much more than just a bunch of amazing points of interest and cultural experiences. What makes a city truly special are the distinct neighbourhoods which make them up. Think of Covent Garden in London, Montmartre in Paris, Soho in New York – or China Town in Melbourne.
In our City, Northbridge, West Perth, East Perth, Claisebrook and Crawley each have a distinct character. In the central CBD, the Retail Core offers a different experience to EQ, the East End or the West End.
It is for this reason that a key part of my platform in running for Lord Mayor of the City of Perth is to celebrate Perth and all that it offers. While there is no doubt there are some things we could do much better, Perth is a great city.
So this part of my plan is not necessarily about spending large amounts of money, or creating something new – it is about enhancing, enlivening and celebrating what we already have to help build an authentic identity.
This is what the Historic Heart Project was about. When I started the project in 2016 and googled “East End Perth” literally nothing came up. Now if you do the same you will come across the Historic Heart website, various media stories and what the City of Perth is doing in the area now. We started to create a neighbourhood identity through cataloguing and talking about what we had (via our free city guides and Historic Heart App), and enhancing the streets through landscaping and artwork. We also brought the community together.
The idea of using authenticity to build identity is not new. ‘Localhood’ was the tourism strategy adopted by Copenhagen in 2017 – number one in Lonely Planet’s list of cities to visit in 2019 for its design and architecture, booming food scene and sustainability credentials. The essential part of Copenhagen’s strategy was the understanding that tourists don’t visit a city for a fake or picture-perfect trip, but rather to connect to the local way of life. The idea is to create a connection to place through local people and the experience of temporarily being part of the ‘localhood’.
But this is not just about tourism. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, we may not see international tourism recover for several years. However, the idea of celebrating neighbourhoods and ‘localhood’ presents an opportunity for our city now. It is an opportunity for the people of Perth to be ‘tourists in their own town’ – and it is an opportunity to attract visitors from the eastern states, at the right time.
My vision is for the people of Perth to talk about visiting Northbridge one weekend, and perhaps West Perth or East Perth the next – each offering different experiences.
This will drive local business – the cafes, the restaurants, the bars, and retail.
This idea of neighbourhoods and ‘localhood’ gives the City an edge over shopping centres. Visiting the City to shop means you can also sit in an alfresco café in a unique neighbourhood setting, wander through interesting streets and laneways enjoying public art, visit the new WA Museum and more.
Creating neighbourhoods with a unique sense of place will also help increase our residential population in the City. Targets and quotas for inner city housing aren’t enough. People need to want to live in the City. A sense of community is important for this.
The City of Perth under the guidance of the Commissioners has made a start on a neighbourhood approach with the Neighbourhood Planning and Engagement Framework. But I would like to go further.
The mission is to create a city of unique and identifiable neighbourhoods, each with a strong sense of place, working together to help to establish an identity for Perth - and, importantly, creating a sense of community and ‘localhood’ for the people who live, work, visit, study and do business here. The benefits of this are wide ranging – social, urban and economic.
My commitment as Lord Mayor is to:
1. Support and fund the local community groups currently looking after our neighbourhoods, working with them to enhance our neighbourhoods and further develop their unique identities through a program of landscape, street furniture, lighting, artwork, sculpture, laneway activation, events and festivals.
2. Create a free City of Perth Neighbourhoods App, and City Guide brochure series, which highlight the points of interest, things to do, and cafes, bars and restaurants in each of the neighbourhoods, to encourage the people of Perth to be tourists in their own town and explore our city neighbourhoods, supporting local business along the way.
3. Identify what the unique major attractor may be for each of these neighbourhoods, whether that’s something already there or something we need to work towards in the short, medium or longer term. Is it a children’s playground, a public pool, a school, a university campus, a lyric theatre? What is each neighbourhood’s unique asset that will help it grow its residential, businesses, investment and visitor populations.
4. Work with the community to create and implement independent interpretation strategies for each of our unique City neighbourhoods, with Indigenous culture being a key focus. This part of my plan includes advocating for a World Centre for Indigenous Culture.
The creation of a city of neighbourhoods will not only help Perth establish its identity, but will help drive local business, tourism, and our student and residential populations.
Let’s bring our city back to life. Let’s make Perth the place where people want to live, work, visit, study and do business.
* Business News has offered all six candidates for Lord Mayor the opportunity to write an opinion piece for this website. Their articles have run as they were originally written, though Business News reserves the right to edit for legal reasons.