Urban Sprawl: Are vertical developments the answer?

A journey to the beach on a hot sunny day and a casual barbeque in the backyard, all which denote a typical summer weekend in Perth. Throughout history, the beach and the suburbs have become prominent urban features which every Australian generally feels “entitle[d]” to. In the past, the suburbs were perceived as the ‘Australian Dream’, one which provides a healthy, hygienic and spacious lifestyle. The greater the individual’s earnings, the greater the aspiration for larger houses was. However, although spacious suburbs sound very appealing, Perth is currently facing an issue of urban sprawl due to great population growth.

Firstly, in order to gain a greater insight on this matter, it is necessary to recognise the current predictions for Perth’s future. At the present, Perth is a home for approximately 1.5 million residents. Whilst this figure is expected to rise rapidly to accommodate more than 3 million inhabitants by 2050, how will Perth be able to contain this influx?

According to statistics, Perth will require an additional 700, 000 dwellings, and twice the city’s infrastructure to entertain this rise.  Consequently, Perth will be compelled to build 179 years worth of development by 2050.

Photo: Hanan Mustafa, March 23, 2017. Northbound Freeway Extension Burns beach Road Exit. Western Australia

In order to tackle this matter, additional framework is being constructed further away from the CBD. The Northbound freeway which once terminated at the Burns beach road exit, is currently being extended further to connect to Hester Avenue. However, this gives rise to the issue of urban sprawl as development continues to extend further away from the city centre, past Alkimos.







Photo (Right and Left): Hanan Mustafa, March 23, 2017, Development in Alkimos. Western Australia

In his book ‘Boom Town 2050’, Weller asserts the need for vertical developments in order to tackle this sprawl. He suggests three methods in which this could be achieved including increasing density throughout the whole city. Secondly, Weller proposes establishing density along the older suburbs of the city. Finally, developing density across the activity center across Perth and adding 90 dwellings per hectare in 50 hectares.

Moreover, one may suggest that Elizabeth Quay may be a great denotation of density increase within the city. Weller proposes the establishment of density in “areas of high amenity” such as transit points and shopping centers. One may recommend that this may be identified in the proposal of high-rise residential towers along the waterfront. The strategic placement of residential vertical development near two transit points, the Elizabeth Quay jetty and railway station, allow the region to be easily accessible. Providing housing along this public realm allows residents to be closer to their work and thus, less dependent on automobiles.

Photo: MRA, Artist impression showing location of Chevron Festival Gardens at Elizabeth Quay. October 30, 2015, http://www.mra.wa.gov.au/projects-and-places/elizabeth-quay/vision/timeline

Additionally, another somewhat similar vertical development currently under construction is the Perth City Link. Whilst the project includes gardens, cafes and shopping opportunities, yet there have been outlines for building $219 million dollar apartments and hotels. The inclusion of high-rise structures in these activity nodes throughout the city may be a start of a solution to urban sprawl. Far East Consortium, have currently invested in the construction of the residential towers in Elizabeth Quay and the Perth City Link.  In the present, living in a prestigious residential tower in the city centre seems to be very appealing to the public. According to Hennessy, a real estate reporter, more than $100 million dollars worth of apartments were bought within the first 24 hours. Finally, Peter Law has implied that the “sacrifice [of garden space in the city] for housing” may be a favorable approach in tackling urban sprawl. However, whether this will be a solution, will be apparent in the future as more vertical development is being constructed throughout the city centre.

1. Zoe Myers, “Australian Urbanism”, UWA Contemporary Urbanism Lecture, AUDRCS, Perth, October 13, 2016.
2. Richard Weller, Boomtown 2050 (Western Australia: UWA, 2009), page 8-9.
3. “Mitchel Freeway Extension”, Mainroads Western Australia, accessed March 17, 2017, https://www.mainroads.wa.gov.au/BuildingRoads/Projects/UrbanProjects/mfe/Pages/Mitchell-Freeway-Ext.aspx
4. Richard Weller, Boomtown 2050 (Western Australia: UWA, 2009), page 313-357.
5. Vetti Kakulas, “Far East Consortium to spend $219 million building apartments and hotel at Perth City Link Lots”, Perth Now, April 24, 2016, accessed March 17, 2017, http://www.perthnow.com.au/business/far-east-consortium-to-spend-219-million-building-apartments-and-hotel-at-perth-city-link-lots/news-story/d2e6f9c92e6db0ff1f57b2d0dfec421c
6. Annabel Hennessy, “Elizabeth Quay apartment buyers spend more than $100 million in first day”, Perth Now, November 29, 2015, accessed March 17, 2017, http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/elizabeth-quay-apartment-buyers-spend-more-than-100-million-in-first-day/news-story/f3974f83273ea97ee426c660af15bbec
7. Peter Law, “Future Perth: 900, 000 new homes without the urban sprawl”, Perth News, October 31, 2014, accessed March 17, 2017, http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/special-features/in-depth/future-perth-900000-new-homes-without-the-urban-sprawl/news-story/981d87d85299615e6608fac7fb947d0d



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