Wednesday morning saw UDIA WA host our first Industry Breakfast for 2020 as WAPC Chairman David Caddy and DPLH Director General Gail McGowan provided insights into Planning Matters.

The event was attended by over 320 people, with industry representatives along with several state and local governments from across the Perth Metropolitan area and representatives from various community groups keen to have their voice heard on particular issues.

Having such a diverse range of viewpoints in one room resulted in over 100 questions lodged via our app, leading to a lively Q&A that was ably facilitated by UDIA National Treasurer Darren Cooper.

The discussions provided the audience with an opportunity to hear firsthand from David and Gail in relation to a range of issues and generated a constructive discussion about the future of development in Perth and how planning policy can facilitate the best outcomes for the community in Western Australia.

In addition to providing their questions through, attendees were also able to take part in several live polls where they provided responses to some of the more pressing questions on the day.

Click here to see some of the responses to the question on what you consider or value to be most important in developing or building a community?

Before the Q&A, Mr Caddy kicked things off with a short opening address where he detailed the task facing the government, development industry and community regarding the need for increased urban density, or more specifically its form and strategic location.

“Put simply we have around 30 years to provide some 800,000+ new homes primarily through existing suburbs to accommodate an additional 1.5 million people across the Perth and Peel region,” Mr Caddy said. “This will be achieved through considerably greater infill development as outlined in the Perth and Peel @3.5m frameworks as well as substantial increases in transport-oriented homes close to public transport, aligned to METRONET stage one.

“On a macro level all our actions for planning reform, Design WA, Perth and Peel @3.5m, etc. are geared towards this outcome, to provide a streamlined and contemporary framework that will drive the seamless transition to a more connected and consolidated city.

“Density has a role that is not up for debate. Bringing the community along with us to dispel myths and misconceptions and ensuring people have a clear understanding about how density will and more importantly will not impact them is crucial to the smooth delivery of homes and create vibrant new communities and breathe new life into existing ones.”

Mr Caddy went on to detail the findings from a recent community consultation pilot project with the people of Carlisle called The Street Where You Live. While it is important not to afford one pilot project in a single suburb too much emphasis, as another suburb could produce different results, Mr Caddy said that on the whole most people agree on the need for greater density but generally have no real examples of density done well.

This is where Mr Caddy is hopeful DesignWA will be able to help as it will address many of the concerns people have around medium density development.

Following Mr Caddy’s opening statements Ms McGowan provided an overview of the changing planning ideologies and landscape in Perth relating much of it back to her own experience of living in an inner suburb earmarked for greater density.

“While urban consolidation as a policy objective has been issued worldwide, the reality is consolidation and increased density means a departure from the car-dependant urban form and moving into the unknown is a daunting experience,” she said.

“I recall buying our first home in the inner suburbs in the early 1990s, our family and friends questioned how we could cope with only 500sqm of land and why on earth would we buy an old established house when you could build the Aussie dream of a 4×2 in the outer suburbs for half the price.

“As I head towards my senior years, my husband and I are actively considering whether it is practical and sustainable for us to maintain that same house into our dotage, given both the land area and the size of the house.

“Like so many others, we have no desire to leave our area but we do want options.”

The key takeaway from the first Industry Breakfast for 2020 was that increased community engagement and collaboration is vital to a progressive and sustainable future that benefits the majority.

UDIA was pleased to provide a platform yesterday that allowed the development industry, local government and community groups to come together to learn, interact and engage in this important discussion.

To read UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck’s opening address from the breakfast, click here.