Big and small ideas for Perth

Boosting the number of residents in Perth’s CBD, coordinating a new retail strategy and creating a unique city brand are just three big ideas to revitalise Perth’s city centre.

The Property Council’s new report, Big and Small Ideas for Perth, is a call to action which advocates five strategies: Postcode 6000; Perth Shoppingtown; Brand Perth; a shared city agenda; and Plan Perth.

Lino Iacomella, the Property Council’s executive director in Western Australia, says Perth is at a crossroads.

“The Perth CBD has benefitted from a long pipeline of infrastructure investment and now it needs a unified vision take advantage of these assets and address the economic challenges in the city like high office vacancies and a subdued retail sector,” he says.

The Property Council’s top idea is to boost the residential population through a ‘Postcode 6000’ program that takes its cues from Melbourne’s successful Postcode 3000 program. This coordinated approach to urban regeneration fast-tracked the redevelopment of office stock, leading to a 3,000 per cent increase in people moving to the CBD over the course of a decade. 

More inner-city residents in Perth would “create a bigger market for local retailers and generate the street vibrancy to attract more visitors,” Iacomella explains.

But a swathe of barriers must be dismantled and new incentives introduced, the report finds. Among these are increases to the plot ratio and other development allowances for residential development in the CBD, and a pilot commercial-to-residential conversion project with a low-grade commercial building.

The report also advocates a new CBD retail strategy, dubbed Perth Shoppingtown, which Iacomella says is needed “to create a unique city shopping experience and compete with the expanding suburban centres”.

Constructing a centre of the calibre of Melbourne’s Emporium or Westfield Sydney City could be part of this strategy.

Iacomella says Perth currently lacks a unified and cohesive approach to city branding.

“Just as Sydney is known for being the regional finance capital, Perth should also be known for something unique.”

What could that be? The report suggests Perth’s brand strategy should “celebrate our Indigenous heritage, our role as an Asian city connector, our natural beauty and biodiversity, local character, entrepreneurial spirit and our work/lifestyle balance.”

A shared city agenda that brings together the state government, local councils and the Metropolitan Renewal Authority, and a clear plan for infrastructure round out the top five ideas.

“The shared objective in the report is to make Perth a ‘world class’ capital city to drive jobs and prosperity to keep WA growing,” Iacomella concludes.