Social infrastructure the key to unlocking renewal and regeneration

Social infrastructure plays a critical role in the placemaking, activation and connection of our communities, a Property Council lunch has been told.

Alec Coles, Chief Executive Officer at WA Museum, reflected on the role that museums had to play in speaking for those who cannot speak, through the story telling opportunities that WA Museum’s portfolio offers across the State. Giving a voice to First Nations communities was acknowledged as one of WA Museum’s significant responsibilities. The audience heard that integrating the needs of First Nations communities into the design of newer facilities and displays was critical to ensure placemaking and activation efforts were inclusive and accessible.

Joined by Carolyn Hamilton from ECU’s University of the Future, the pair updated the audience about ongoing plans for the Perth Cultural Centre precinct and how each of their assets will combine to renew a previously underutilised space in the heart of Perth.

Ms Hamilton also spoke to the injection of activity and vibrancy that WAAPA’s move to the city is expected to bring, as well as the anticipated changes in attitudes towards Perth for creative arts students, by locating their studies and performances close to where other arts and culture action was happening.

Guests were told that ECU’s City Campus was designed with activation and placemaking in mind through the retention and creation of active laneways that will keep Yagan Square connected to surrounding areas when the campus is due to open in 2025.

With over 500,000 Western Australians participating in some form of community sport, SportWest CEO Matt Fulton explained the challenges and potential for sport infrastructure in WA. Accommodating the growth of women’s sport was a priority for WA sport, Mr Fulton explained, which would require upgrades to existing facilities and new infrastructure to be delivered.

Mr Fulton expressed disappointment in the lack of focus on community sporting infrastructure in the recently released Draft State Infrastructure Strategy, noting there was an opportunity to maximise the use of existing facilities for community sport, such as school gyms and ovals that often sit empty at weekends.

WA’s health hub model was top of mind for St John of God Healthcare’s Bryan Pyne, who outlined how health delivery in WA differed from how health services were provided interstate. Having a range of health services – both public and private – located in close proximity to each other allowed for collaboration and activity across a greater precinct, guests heard. St John of God’s Murdoch Hospital was cited as an example of how hospitals can pave the way as a catalyst for the development of health hubs and associated services within a strategic location.

Mr Pyne also explained how St John of God’s Midland Hospital was able to provide renewal and regeneration to a neglected part of Midland, while redevelopment plans for St John of God’s Subiaco campus was an opportunity to keep up with changing healthcare trends and support surrounding health services as technology changes and the lifespan of hospitals extends from 20 years to 40 years.

Hesperia Director, Kyle Jeavons, highlighted the importance of social infrastructure as a blueprint for how communities could be developed. The way social infrastructure reflects community needs and values was on the agenda for Mr Jeavons, who also outlined the potential for the Perth CBD through indigenous landscaping from Kings Park down through the city’s spine.