Time to plan for a sec­ond city

The West Australian - - OPINION - Ge­orge Ha­ji­ga­briel

Is it time for se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion to be given to the for­ward plan­ning of a “sec­ond city” in WA? The met­ro­pol­i­tan re­gion of Perth and Peel ex­tends ap­prox­i­mately 150km from Two Rocks in the north to Bou­vard in the south and con­tains more than two mil­lion peo­ple.

Our strate­gic plan­ning is con­tem­plat­ing growth to 3.5 mil­lion peo­ple, pri­mar­ily through in­creased ef­fi­ciency and the use of ex­ist­ing land as­sets. This is a pos­i­tive and much needed ap­proach for the Perth and Peel regions.

In par­al­lel to seek­ing im­proved ef­fi­ciency for the use of land in Perth and Peel, should we also be look­ing at the State as a whole with con­sid­er­a­tion to growth be­yond 3.5 mil­lion and pro­vid­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple to es­tab­lish them­selves in satel­lite cities?

Bun­bury and Ger­ald­ton are well po­si­tioned to ac­com­mo­date in­creased pop­u­la­tion growth.

Both ar­eas are connected to Perth by rail and are close enough to fa­cil­i­tate the ben­e­fits that come from con­tact with the Perth re­gion but are far away enough to pre­vent com­muters.

Joon­dalup was once hailed as a “sec­ond city” with con­sid­er­able govern­ment in­vest­ment in es­tab­lish­ing it to per­form that func­tion. Its close prox­im­ity to Perth, how­ever, has meant that it has sim­ply be­come an outer sub­urb.

Both Bun­bury and Ger­ald­ton pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for pleas­ant liv­ing en­vi­ron­ments with a high qual­ity of life in an af­ford­able coastal lo­cal­ity.

Bun­bury in par­tic­u­lar pro­vides fur­ther con­nec­tions to the South West and may present as a very at­trac­tive propo­si­tion for young fam­i­lies who can still main­tain a con­nec­tion to fam­ily and friends in Perth while en­joy­ing the ben­e­fits of a South West life­style. Bun­bury has a sig­nif­i­cant port fa­cil­ity, water re­sources and the ex­ist­ing nu­cleus of a city with a cur­rent pop­u­la­tion es­ti­mated at 33,000.

Long-term strate­gic thought is re­quired to en­cour­age ma­jor in­vest­ment and em­ploy­ment gen­er­a­tors in satel­lite cities.

Govern­ment in­cen­tives for the estab­lish­ment of sig­nif­i­cant in­dus­tries in th­ese lo­cal­i­ties would be ap­pro­pri­ate. Per­haps the estab­lish­ment of another ma­jor univer­sity cam­pus specif­i­cally di­rected to at­tract­ing overseas stu­dents would be another way of pro­mot­ing in­creased eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity within th­ese ar­eas.

The ques­tion of a sec­ond or ad­di­tional ma­jor city for WA also in­vig­o­rates the con­ver­sa­tion as to what might be re­garded as an ideal size for com­mu­ni­ties in the con­text of try­ing to man­age the un­con­trolled sprawl of ex­ist­ing or es­tab­lished cities. If a city grows be­yond 3.5-4 mil­lion in­hab­i­tants it is likely to be at risk of los­ing all of the at­trac­tive at­tributes of a ma­jor me­trop­o­lis and com­mence the process of en­gen­der­ing the dis­ad­van­tages that come with much big­ger cities.

At 3.5 mil­lion per­sons, or there­abouts, a city can ex­pect to be pro­vided with good qual­ity ef­fi­cient in­fra­struc­ture in terms of phys­i­cal ser­vices and those more stim­u­lat­ing as­sets of ed­u­ca­tion, cul­ture and en­ter­tain­ment. A 3.5 mil­lion-per­son city has its own crit­i­cal mass in gen­er­at­ing the­atres, gal­leries, sport­ing and other en­ter­tain­ment as well as good qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion es­tab­lish­ments, and a va­ri­ety of choice in th­ese ar­eas.

Pub­lic trans­port, road net­works, pedestrian and pub­lic spa­ces can all be as­sured of good pa­tron­age and high-qual­ity out­comes. Job and work­place op­por­tu­ni­ties are also gen­er­ally read­ily avail­able.

There is a point, how­ever, where for a city through its sheer size and pop­u­la­tion lev­els, th­ese good qual­i­ties start to erode. A city of more than four mil­lion is un­der threat of this change in dy­namic. A city of five-six mil­lion is al­most cer­tain to have prob­lems of this na­ture.

Stop­ping a city grow­ing, how­ever, is not eas­ily achieved and re­quires an in­cen­tive for growth to oc­cur else­where.

If we are to main­tain Perth at a 3.5 mil­lion thresh­old, be­cause all of the “good” rea­sons then an at­trac­tive al­ter­na­tive must be for­mu­lated very soon.

Bun­bury with a pop­u­la­tion of less than 50,000 has all of the cat­a­lyst in­gre­di­ents to fa­cil­i­tate a well-planned and gen­er­a­tional out­come — with­out the at­ten­dant risks of be­ing in such a re­mote lo­ca­tion that there is no con­nec­tion back to the “first city”.

The cli­mate is palat­able and at­trac­tive and op­por­tu­ni­ties for em­ploy­ment in in­dus­try and agri­cul­ture are avail­able. There is also a good, al­beit small, es­tab­lished base of cul­tural and ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties.

Plan­ning now will en­sure that Perth at 3.5 mil­lion can be sus­tained and po­ten­tially slow down af­ter that pop­u­la­tion level is reached, with the sec­ond city com­ing into its own as an al­ter­na­tive.

This out­come can­not, how­ever, be achieved in any short-term or ad-hoc fash­ion.

Bun­bury needs to be on the long-term plan now for a pop­u­la­tion, this cen­tury, of one mil­lion or more peo­ple.

Long-term strate­gic thought is re­quired to en­cour­age ma­jor in­vest­ment.

Il­lus­tra­tion: Don Lind­say

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.