The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA WA) strongly refutes claims in the media today that Perth is becoming a disconnected ‘sprawled’ city.

“Today’s article in WA Today claiming the development of Perth is not achieving a balance between infill and greenfield is misleading and misrepresents recent ABS data about where new homes are being built,” UDIA WA CEO Allison Hailes said.

The article claims that 20,000 new homes were built in 2016-17 in Perth and that Perth’s so called ‘urban sprawl’ is continuing.

“The source data from the ABS, specifies that there were in fact 20,346 new dwellings built across the entire state of Western Australia, not just Perth, in that period,” Ms Hailes said.  “Of the 16,500 built in Perth a significant portion, 40% of those new homes were within ‘inner’ metropolitan areas.”

“The article lists Stirling and Cockburn, which were the third and fourth most popular areas for new builds, as outer areas,” Ms Hailes said.  “This is hardly the case when Stirling is only 10km from the CBD and both areas have fantastic transport connections and amenity.”

“These locales are also major activity centres in their own right, providing employment and services within close proximity to major commercial, retail and other service hubs,” Ms Hailes said.

“The notion that all new development should be focussed on the CBD, as it’s the centre for all employment and essential services is misguided, as the latest figures from the Department of Jobs and Small Business clearly show that 55% of jobs within the Perth Metropolitan region are actually   located in outer areas” said Ms Hailes.

Furthermore, over the 2016-17 period, the total number of jobs within inner Perth fell by more than 3,000, while in the outer areas the total number of jobs rose by 2,250.

“It is actually the case that the location of many of the new homes being built closely matches where jobs are located. Therefore, new development here is actually working to ease traffic congestion on our freeways and major roads by dispersing where people travel to for work. This is more sustainable in the long term,” Ms Hailes said.

“Further, the negative inference that is given to Perth being made up of 150km of so called urban sprawl is a popular line that gets thrown out whenever the development of Perth is discussed.  Such comments fail to recognise that there are very good reasons for Perth being developed as a linear city and that our urban footprint is in fact smaller than many others.”

“First and foremost, people want to live close to the coast,” Ms Hailes said.

“In addition, our growth pattern is strongly influenced by the natural landscape, as the escarpment with its steep slopes, underlying granite and bushfire risks have restricted development to the east,” Ms Hailes said. “This does not mean that we have uncontained or ill-considered urban sprawl”.

“It is critical that we recognise the reason many people want to live in Perth is the space and lifestyle that suburban areas offer,” Ms Hailes said.  “We should not be pitting greenfield against infill development or saying that one area is better than the other.  We should be finding a balanced approach to development and providing a range of places for people to live which meet different demographics, budgets and lifestyle choices.”

“Developments in greenfield areas are increasingly providing a diversity of new dwelling types from smaller, more compact lots and medium density housing types such as town houses through to larger more traditional style blocks for larger households,” Ms Hailes said.

“These developments also often feature an activity centre or main street with commercial, retail and other services provided within the local area,” Ms Hailes said.

“Many of these outer areas are also well serviced by existing infrastructure such as the major sub-regional hospitals that are located in Joondalup, Midland and Murdoch,” Ms Hailes said.  “Developers also often ensure that schools and other amenities are provided at an early stage of development to service the local community.”

“The greenfield development industry in WA continues to raise the bar when it comes to providing sustainable, healthy and affordable communities for people to live in a range of locations,” Ms Hailes said.


For more information:

Gemma Osiejak

UDIA WA Executive Manager Communications & Marketing


M: 0421 506 819