Psaros / News

Urban Densification: Is It Time for Perth to Grow Up?

Today, there is greater desire to achieve a mix of building types through urban redevelopment and density planning – creating exciting and sustainable lifestyles long into the future.

The perception of housing densification is changing.

Bolstered by these changing attitudes, Perth is experiencing a surge in popularity of medium- and high-density urban housing. It is clear many people want to live closer to the city. They want to experience lifestyles with a greater sense of connectivity and community. And many want to live more sustainably too. Yet despite these trends, 77% of Perth households still live in single detached houses – the highest percentage of all Australian cities.

Currently spanning 120km from north to south, Perth is one of the most sprawling cities on Earth. This seemingly endless sprawl is not sustainable, and is likely to stretch the city’s metropolitan area to a staggering 270km by 2050.

How can Perth grow more sustainably?

Controlled urban density can facilitate growth and large-scale sustainable lifestyles. However, to achieve this, much responsibility first falls on planners, developers and other decision makers long before breaking ground.

To instil holistic and community-ingrained sustainability principles, careful consideration needs to be given during design and planning to factors such as energy and water efficiency, the recycling of waste, and location-enabled transport. This way, when the keys are handed over, building occupants are already on track to live more sustainable and resource-efficient lifestyles

What is the real cost of urban sprawl?

Urban sprawl is becoming a significant drain on our economy – and our hip pocket.

Increasing fuel prices and longer travel times come at a huge cost to commuters. Research shows that denser housing in centralised areas will consume between four and ten times less transport-related energy than low density, suburban fringe housing. Another report (issued by the Committee for Perth) reveals that a standard commute of 25km to and from the city each day could end up costing individuals over $22,000 each year.

Meanwhile, the need to fund infrastructure (like roads, power and water) and new services (like transport, health and education) to support new fringe housing is becoming a burden on our state’s economy.

The development of higher-density housing in strategic and centrally located urban areas can help reduce this financial strain. Mixed density development and redevelopment can absorb the growing population of Perth more sustainably, providing accessible housing in areas where major infrastructure already exists. Living in close proximity to business and cultural centres also encourages people to make more sustainable lifestyle choices – like walking and cycling – bringing obvious health benefits, too.

Must a growing population threaten our natural environment?

Perth’s colossal urban sprawl is having a devastating effect on our natural environment. Historically, land clearing has been one of the most significant causes of biodiversity loss in Western Australia. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), between 2001 and 2009 some 6,812 hectares of natural bush were cleared within the Perth metropolitan region alone. 

How do we reduce the impact of geographic expansion of our natural environment? How can we safeguard the remarkable diversity of Perth’s plants and animals? Where do we draw the line on commute times? Just how much will our sprawl end up costing us? Has the time come for our city to grow up, instead of continuing to sprawl?

These (and many more) questions must be considered as we determine the most sustainable way for Perth to grow.

What next?

As a city, our challenge is to find and agree on ways to sustainably grow, while creating lifestyles to suit the wants and needs of the diverse population that calls Perth home. To create your own exciting and sustainable lifestyle, contact us today.