Planning System Frozen and in Denial

Planning System frozen and in denial.

The current Planning System in WA has managed to make a complete mess of urban growth and development in our capital City Region and is not capable in its present form of managing that into the future.

It is organisationally and managerially disjointed and continues to freeze snapshot views of key economic and social conditions and make authoritative policies and statements about them, limiting development concepts with simplistic authoritative out-of-date  ‘guidelines’ and legislation ignoring the fact that conditions are constantly changing at an accelerating pace.

Planning for land-use and development is by definition creating a framework for future action, the outcomes are very rarely instantaneous yet realisation of urban development is a profound determinant of the overall environment in which people will be living. The scale and complexity of issues encompassed by the present ‘ruling’ official Planning System is now beyond both the range and scope of expertise, and level of creative foresight deployed to plan ahead at the scale of a Capital City or urban Region.

It is no accident that we now have Perth that began in a beautiful setting around the Swan river estuary with access to both sandy beaches and afforested Scarp -land now completely over-run by assorted ad hoc low-density urban sprawl over 160 km’s in length.  Most of that residential sprawl being poorly serviced, featureless housing estates not planned as integrated communities and without enough foresight to be connected with an appropriate transportation network.

This so-called ‘Planning’ system is now obliged to descend to using ‘spin’ to disguise and evade responsibility. Now referring to Perth and Peel as the State’s capital as a ‘Region’, and a ‘Connected City’ including the Mandurah / Peel Harvey Estuary localities 60 to 80 km’s south and this Capital City stretches a similar distance north and still being allowed to sprawl further in both directions even around the Estuary. Properly and sensibly ‘Connected’?  It certainly is not.

State Governments, none of whom can deny some responsibility for allowing this out-of-date System to become so creatively stultified, are now faced with massive consequent community costs.

They will now have to spend large sums of community money on paying for extended transportation networks along routes that were never planned for the purpose; and the community being obliged to accept massive residential land-price inflation, for subdivided rural blocks that have no pre-planned community structure.

Furthermore because this Planning System is short of competence in natural environment interpretation; in a region that includes world class concentration of unique natural biodiversity, renowned as a ‘hot spot,’ 70 per cent of that has been destroyed by thoughtless site-clearance whereas it could, with planned strategic forethought have been protected and incorporated to enhance the overall quality of future living experience for future generations.

Similarly, the System is short of competence in applied social psychology; consequently urban development is not responding to increasingly rapid social change because the system is so managed to be out of touch with real people on real sites.

With political election fever around today, all the defects of poor planning are being exposed, unemployment in outlying suburbs, basic infrastructure like suburban roads and bridges missing, no acceptable transportation systems available, more trees wanted for shade and humidity retention to replace those only recently destroyed by being bulldozed to make money for opportunist developers. Forgetting of course, that trees often take decades to grow again to provide shade.

‘Innovation’ is a current buzz-word, so we should apply that immediately to our Planning System. Creative thinking and fresh ideas are urgently needed through every part of it, otherwise Perth will descend further to become the place for international visitation by Urban Planning professionals discovering how NOT to create a contemporary capital City.

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