The Town of Victoria Park has been allocated a target of providing for an additional 19,400 dwellings by 2050 on top of the 15,921 dwellings in existence in 2011. This will see the Town’s population more than double in the next 30-35 years.
A series of articles will explore the projected population growth and what it means for the Town. Keep your eyes open for more information here on our website, on Facebook and in our quarterly newsletter, Life in the Park
, throughout the year.
The dwelling growth is expected to be gradual and will continue the transformation of the Town into a bustling inner urban neighbourhood. Capitalising on the increased residential population and office employees, the main Albany Highway strip and smaller centres such as Archer Street and Lathlain Place will become even more vibrant, bustling hubs of activity with a variety of shops, cafes and offices.
Growth will be focused on key areas such as along Albany Highway, the Burswood Peninsula and the Causeway Precinct, in Technology Park and on the Curtin University campus as well as some higher densities around the train stations. Existing residential neighbourhoods are expected to be retained at lower densities to allow for a diversity of housing options including family homes.
We are now starting to plan for this growth. This planning includes making sure the Town’s social infrastructure keeps pace with the growing population, that parks and open spaces are still meeting the needs and expectations of this growing community and our existing transport system and servicing infrastructure can cope with the additional demand.
There will be an opportunity for you to be involved in the planning for this growth as part of the preparation of the Town’s Local Planning Strategy.
For so long the word ‘density’ has been considered a bad word. For some, the word ‘density’ brings back bad memories of poorly constructed public housing in the 1960s and 1970s, of new business districts lacking in infrastructure and amenities, and of grey suburban shopping centres. Throw in fears of over-crowding, high crime rates and a loss of privacy and it’s no wonder density has so many negative connotations for some. But lately, the world has been rethinking the delivery of density and its back in vogue.
We are a Town that is set to grow, and the key question in our future urban planning discussions will not be whether or not our Town ought to become denser; it will be what we want to do with that inevitable density. We think, that when used properly, density is an important part of what makes cities unique, immersive and culturally rich.
Density: Drivers, Dividends and Debates, by the Urban Land Institute (ULI), examines the concept of density, its impacts, and how it can best be achieved in cities around the world. They outline characteristics of what they think is ‘good’ density and ‘bad density’. Do you think they are right?
|Characteristics of ‘Good’ Density
||Characteristics of ‘Bad’ Density
|Mixed use of land combining residential, commercial, retail, transport and green space creates a vibrant urban landscape which is used at all times of day and by different groups.
||Monotonous. Dense single land use appears to prevent the advantages of density from being leveraged and fosters negative impacts on others instead.
|Connected. Includes high volume reliable public transport and leverages existing infrastructure. Good infrastructure is an essential component.
||Isolated. Without transport infrastructure density is not able to fulfil its key role of facilitating access, and leads to unmanageable traffic challenges.
|Planned in advance and incremental in pace. Good density is the product of an overarching strategic vision about place making and specific/explicit project choices.
||Occurs at a rapid and unmanaged pace. Places and people become overwhelmed by rapid density which prevents assimilation and the investment needed to make density work.
|Cohesive. Meets social needs as well as economic needs. The aim of good density is not just to create capital assets but to serve people who live and work in the area.
||The concentration of single income populations (whether high income or low income) or single ethnic groups. If density is combined with income or ethnic segregation, it can have the unintended effect of increasing “ghettoization” or inequality.
|Liveable. Enhances quality of life and liveability for residents. Good density mitigates the liveability stresses caused by concentration and takes advantage of the opportunities it creates to enhance public services and quality of life.
||Unliveable. Without good public and private services density can become monolithic, scary, and imprisoning. Bad density can breed crime and insecurity, making dense spaces fearsome and unattractive.
|Spacious. Good density provides public and open spaces to decompress regardless of their income.
||Absence of public and open space/connectivity. Without the space to decompress density can become oppressive and feel crowded.
|Has flexibility. Good densities can be increased of added to incrementally.
||Lack of adaptability to changing economic and social circumstances. Dense buildings that are inflexible can prevent a whole district or neighbourhood from adapting.
|Has design built into it. High density does not always have to mean high rise, but should always mean high quality urban design.
||The absence of good urban design. Density can be created in ways which are perceived to be ugly.
|Green. Has an environmental benefit and uses energy, waste, water and transport systems more efficiently. Encourages shared facilities and services.
||Polluting. Traffic congestion and heat island effects stemming from poorly planned density can be detrimental to the environment.
|Appropriate. Minimises impact on existing settled neighbourhoods and places. Good density reflects and accentuates the local character of existing neighbourhoods. Planners take measures to accommodate and provide for existing residents.
||Conspicuous and inappropriate to existing scale of buildings and character of city scape. The blend of buildings in the same neighbourhoods is key, each city or district has its own vernacular or narrative that dense buildings need to be in tune with.
The Town of Victoria Park is growing with an expected 19,400+ new dwellings by 2050, amplified transportation and access challenges as the metropolitan region grows and increasing expectations from a new generation of residents wanting to live, work and play close to the city. The state government has recognised this and through its METRONET project is responding to these challenges through a series of proposed upgrades to the inner city rail network.
With plans for a more capable and efficient rail network, the Town of Victoria Park is in a unique situation to get the planning for our future right. We are at perhaps one of the most important times in our planning history where we can establish our ‘future footprint’ with a transit oriented approach to development (TOD). So what does this actually mean?
The technical way to describe it would be as a style of development that focuses on the creation of mixed-use communities with a central node of activity, located within 800-1000 metres walking distance of a transit stop and linked to our existing centres of activity. Really, when you break it down it’s all about the six Ds:
Destination – The location must be right, focusing on high frequency transit corridors such as the Thornlie/Armadale train line.
Design – The space must be designed for pedestrians and bicycles with high-quality streets and public places. The place must be comfortable for humans and have exciting and active buildings addressing the street.
Distance – The size, orientation and way in which the streets and buildings connect should ensure that walking is always safe and manageable. By creating a fine grained urban structure of pedestrian and bicycle oriented streets we can support the community in using them.
Density – People and activity should be close to the activated stations. The density of people, buildings and activities then transition and reduce in intensity into the surrounding neighbourhoods.
Diversity – Streets are animated with a diversity of uses. By ensuring the right mix of housing types, land uses, tenures, sizes, price points, retail, leisure, and employment opportunities we can create a resilient community.
Demand Management – The place would discourage unnecessary car usage. By making it less easy to drive we can help people realise the real cost of car use in the community.
As the Town moves towards achieving its own unique inner-city identity, there exists a real opportunity to make the most of our train station precincts and create TOD style communities that are more sustainable, healthy, resilient, liveable, and integrated into our existing lifestyle.
(Adapted from TransLink’s Transit-Oriented Communities - A Primer on Key Concepts.)
Previous Growth Series articles have explored some of the key planning considerations in accommodating future growth of the Town into a dynamic inner-city neighbourhood of around 75,000 people by 2050.
We have indicated that growth in the Town is to be focused along Albany Highway, on the Burswood Peninsula, in the Causeway Precinct, in and around Curtin University and in the longer term, around train stations.
We have examined the characteristics of good and bad approaches to residential intensification as we plan to achieve the State Government's housing targets, whilst ensuring the adequacy of the Town’s servicing and transport infrastructure, parks and open spaces, social places and spaces, can accommodate the increase in population and activity. The planning will focus on the Town’s great accessibility, offered by its train stations and public transport routes, by promoting development close to these locations that it is ‘transit-oriented’ and caters for a mix of land uses and activities.
Just as increasing the supply of housing and improving housing choice and affordability will be important, the Town also needs to plan for future economic growth and provide for employment and commercial activity to provide the complete ‘live, work and play environment’. In the long-term, the Town has the potential to become a significant employment, entertainment and educational destination, and the identification of key areas for ‘activation’ will be a critical component of its future planning initiatives.
Activity centres are focal points for a combination of activities such as offices, retail, higher-density housing, entertainment, civic/community, education and medical services. They are intended to provide hubs for commercial and employment growth, a focus of the public transport system, and promote economic and social vitality with street-oriented development and attractive public spaces. They can vary in scale, composition and character. Activity centres, and particularly those with train stations, are a focus of the State Government’s METRONET program.
The Town is preparing a Local Planning Strategy that will in part identify the preferred locations for intensification of land use and activity. At this stage those centres are likely to include:
- Albany Highway (comprised of five sub-precincts along the 3.4km stretch through the Town with a range of retail, office, entertainment and residential uses).
- Proposed specialised centres at Burswood (as a major entertainment, recreational and employment destination, with high intensity residential development) and Curtin University/Bentley (as a major educational, institutional, technology, and employment precinct, with increased residential, community and small-scale retail uses).
- Causeway Precinct (employment, commercial, residential uses).
- Investigation of the train stations to assess the long-term potential of station precincts to accommodate appropriate levels of activation.
- Berwick Street (highway commercial, office, showroom and residential uses).
Detailed studies, investigations and plans will be required to help realise the potential for these activity centres and ensure appropriate planning frameworks are in place.
Community participation and input is a valued integral component to the future planning needed to achieve the Town’s vision for it to be a dynamic place for everyone. Keep an eye out for opportunities to be involved.
The fourth Growth Series article detailed the important role that Activity Centres will play in the Town’s transformation as a major employment, entertainment and educational destination in the Perth region.
Main streets are the thriving heart of Activity Centres. They are places where people live, work and play and are the key to supporting a healthier, more walkable and sustainable lifestyle, better-connected local communities and opportunities for economic development.
After suffering a period of decline due to increased car dependence and the dominance of large regional shopping centres, traditional main streets are becoming more widely recognised as valuable community assets.
Regenerating or creating great main streets requires a return to human-scale elements, with a focus on the many detailed components that make a place vibrant and attractive. They require community participation, proactive design and a deep understanding of the intricacies of place making.
Great main streets are safe, comfortable and pedestrian-friendly where priority is given to catering for people over cars. They have street trees to provide summer shade, places to gather and sit and are active day and night. Quality lighting can help to enhance the sense of safety at night, while adding atmosphere and a sense of fun and beauty.
Getting the right mix of uses in a main street is critical. Food is the anchor and a diverse food offering, supported by range of retail uses, consistently drive activity and establish the character of the street.
Wide streets with under-priced and oversupplied parking, where movement and convenience for motorists is prioritised over pedestrians can hurt main streets. Main streets need to be designed or redesigned to better serve the needs of all users, particularly for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport, as well as accommodating green infrastructure including rain gardens and permeable paving to improve water management.
Bringing everyone together to create a shared vision for the Town’s main streets and centres and to deliver on that vision will be a focus in the years ahead. The Town has set its strategic direction and realigned its structure to give attention to place planning and management and looks forward to plenty of conversations about creating dynamic places for everyone.