ACCORDING to a sustainability expert, the Perth CBD has become a more ‘walkable’ city in the past 15 years, with a shift to living a more sustainable urban lifestyle.
Curtin University Policy Institute (CUSP) lecturer Dr Anne Matan says these shifts are necessary for Perth to flourish, but come with added pressure on transport and infrastructure.
“Perth, as a metropolitan region, is now facing these issues, particularly in terms of how its transportation infrastructure will be able to cope with a growing population,” she says.
“Part of this is the creation of city centres, neighbourhood centres and local centres that have walking as the primary transport in and around them, all linked to the greater metropolitan region by transit.”
Dr Matan, who recently completed her PhD titled Rediscovering Urban Design through Walkability: An Assessment of the Contribution of Jan Gehl, used the Danish architect and urban design consultant’s theory of city walkability on various cities around the world, including Perth.
According to a report prepared by Gehl in 1994 and featured in Dr Matan’s research, the urban designer determined that the Perth CBD had “the character of an over-sized department store.”
“The malls were essentially conceived as shopping malls, rather than pedestrian networks, and did not really connect important destinations,” says Dr Matan.
The follow up survey, 15 years later, revealed many changes within the city, including improved conditions to walk and spend time in the city.
“There is more activity within the city, more cafes, a greater provision of infrastructure for people with mobility impairments and more people traveling by public transport,” says Dr Matan.
This outlook is also shared by Perth Lord Mayor, Lisa Scaffidi, who says as Perth develops, there is a need to be seeing more places created in what were previously unused spaces.
“This is bringing our city more ‘urban intricacy’. We are activating upper floors, laneways, and many new businesses are seeking a presence here more than ever before,” say Ms Scaffidi.
According to Ms Scaffidi, as new precincts are added, such as the Waterfront and the Link, the city will see a new cross-axis spine of development running north to south, which up until now, had a distinct east-west arrangement.
“All in all, this means more to see and do and this enhances a pedestrian’s city walk in any direction, meaning they are more engaged than ever before.”