Future-proofing the suburbs

28/11/2014 - 13:21

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Local government representatives from Perth’s suburban north-west have visited Canberra in an effort to spark federal support for the growth of the region.

Local government representatives from Perth’s suburban north-west have visited Canberra in an effort to spark federal support for the growth of the region.

The visit follows the release by the City of Joondalup of its plan to grow the number of jobs and local businesses, and retain the economic benefits stemming from the area’s population growth.

The localities of Joondalup, Wanneroo and Stirling have undergone unprecedented population growth in recent years, largely driven by the increasing cost of purchasing property in suburbs closer to Perth's CBD.

Figures from Landgate show the median house price in Joondalup and Wanneroo was around $500,000 in the 12 months to November 10 this year.

That compared with prices in the range of $700,000 to $3.7 million for properties within 10 kilometres of the Perth CBD.

Amid this property price disparity, Wanneroo’s population, in particular, has been growing at a rapid rate – ABS statistics show the population grew at a rate of 5.1 per cent in the year to the end of June 2013.

Wanneroo was subsequently ranked as Australia’s 11th fastest growing locality in the 2012-13 financial year.

The 5.1 per cent growth rate was also well above Perth’s average annual population growth rate of 3.1 per cent between 2006 and 2011.

The trend is expected to continue with the population of Joondalup and Wanneroo combined expected to top 486,000 by 2031 – a 40 per cent increase on the current population.

In response, the local governments have banded together in attempts to create a strong economic foundation to support their burgeoning communities.

Joondalup, Wanneroo and Stirling representatives reaffirmed the strategy when they met with federal government officials in Canberra last week.

The intent was to strike up a relationship with the federal government to gain future support in recognising Perth’s metropolitan north-west as a strong economy and attractive visitor destination.

Meanwhile, the City of Joondalup has been working on an economic development strategy targeting the creation of a further 20,000 jobs by 2031.

The city has been evaluating strategies to retain the economic benefits of its increasing population while mitigating the current situation where three quarters of its residents travel out of the locality for work.

The city’s ‘employment self-sufficiency’ is currently sitting at 45 per cent – meaning there are 45 jobs available for every 100 residents.

It wants to increase that percentage to 60 per cent by 2031, which will mean not only increasing the number of jobs to accommodate the current population, but also the predicted growth.

Other issues identified in Joondalup include a misalignment of local jobs with resident skills and population, lower presence of medium and large sized organisations, and a lower proportion of strategic level jobs.

Business growth has also lagged in recent years with the number of businesses stagnating between 13,200 and 13,750 since 2007.

To spark business growth the City of Joondalup is planning to attract investment to create local employment, pay particular attention to specialist niche sectors, and raise the profile of the region as a visitor destination.

A strategy to lift the number of large firms operating in the region is part of the council plan to create a further 2,000 businesses overall.

Currently, Joondalup’s business community is dominated by non-employing sole traders, which account for 65 per cent of the sector.

The city has also been paying close attention to the growing importance of digital in the business realm and is understood to be WA's first metropolitan local government to develop a digital strategy.

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