WA Labor leader Mark McGowan.

McGowan launches decentralisation plan

The state opposition plans to shake up planning laws to support the development of community hubs across Perth, creating jobs close to where people live.


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So long as infrastructure and resources are integrated into these suburban hubs it is a good way forward.

The Perth region urgently needs to develop into what planners and geographers call a 'polycentric urban form'. In other words an urban region characterised by evolution of discrete urban hubs - each providing a range of employment, sevices and amenities. These hubs or 'activity centres' must be interlinked by mass transit systems to enable their potential to be reached. The existing model of urban development is clearly broken. Our Australian Dream is at risk of becoming a nightmare. Our suburbs sprawl outward at a relenttess pace, increasing social isolation, traffic congestion and vulnerability to rising oil prices. Many of our high amenity garden suburbs are 'vandalised' by crude attempts at urban infill, all in the name of urban consolidation designed to address the evils of sprawl. We need to foster higher density growth in well designed centres. We can also do much worse than emulate the thinking of Rob Adams from Melbourne City Council, namely targeting apartment development along transit corridors. This could also lead to opportunities to share the cost of providing transit infrastructure with the private sector. The key to unlocking this potential is certainty of Government investment as many of our nascent activity centres require a degree of infrastructure pre-funding to get them across the line. Certainty of investment also helps de-risk projects for the private sector, enabling tax payer funds to be effectively leveraged to catalyse development of much needed housing and infrastructure.

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