The West Australian

The departing boss of WA’s Urban Development Institute of Australia says Perth is a teenager “still growing up” and trying to find its identity.

UDIA chief executive Allison Hailes said the end of the mining boom had cost Perth its identity and it needed to find a new “brand” to attract more people to live and invest here.

Ms Hailes, who announced her resignation last week, also called for a public information campaign about housing options, saying Perth people were too fixated on the idea of home as either a free-standing house or a high-rise apartment with nothing in between.

There should be a greater awareness of alternatives like town houses and maisonettes.

“I liken Perth to being a teenager — it’s a city that’s in the process of growing up but it doesn’t know who it is or who it wants to be yet,” she told The West Australian in an interview to mark her decision to leave the development industry body.

“In the mining boom we had this temporary identity of being the mining capital of Australia and that attracted a lot of investment and significant population growth.

“Since the end of the mining boom we’ve lost that identity and we haven’t developed a new one. There’s a whole range of beautiful places and spaces in Perth but we don’t sell it very well.

“We don’t have a brand and we don’t sell it to attract new people to invest here or to come and live here.”

Ms Hailes, who has been at the helm of UDIA since 2016, is moving to Britain for family reasons.

She said Perth needed a public campaign to highlight the different housing choices available, especially for people who had not travelled widely and been exposed to housing types common in other cities, such as maisonettes or New York’s “Brownstones”.

“We tend to jump from single house to high-rise apartment,” Ms Hailes said.

The former WA Local Government Association executive manager said she wanted to see a greater focus on the big picture from local governments, rather than making decisions on a site-by-site basis without reference to local character.

But she said State Government leadership was needed and there was a risk that current planning reforms would place a further burden on councils.