The 2010 rewriting of the policy controlling activity centres in Perth and Peel has stimulated a multi-billion transformation of vibrant hubs where people shop, work, meet, relax and now also, live. Removing the key control of capping shop / retail floorspace was considered a radical move at the time for what were essentially suburban shopping centres only. Under the Chairmanship of Gary Prattley (now MacroPlan’s General Manager ACT), the Western Australian Planning Commission introduced State Planning Policy 4.2 Activity Centres for Perth and Peel in 2010. This placed a greater emphasis on providing a mix of activities through co-locating other land uses with retail so that centres incorporate a broader range of compatible urban activities. It also gave a more prominent role to public transport accessibility and urban design guidelines in order to promote a better quality built environment.
MacroPlan’s Executive Chairman, Brian Haratsis provided the economic and commercial reality check into the policy reform.
The former policy had firmly focused only on the shopping and retailing role of centres and set maximum floorspace depending on the designation of the centre in a hierarchy. This was replaced with a diversity performance target which recommended a minimum percentage of non-retail floorspace that should be incorporated to encourage more activities, non-retail jobs and services. Therefore is allows for centres to grow in size to meet the needs of the population, but to do so it has to introduce a wider range of activities including offices, community, entertainment, other non-retail and residential uses as the shopping floorspace of the centres increases.
In some ways the residential uses were considered the most challenging as it meant rethinking the forms of tenure as well as tackling the unknown of market demand in a city that is 80 percent single residential dwellings.
Implementing the policy meant structure planning the activity centres to address these issues in association with the community, business and local and state government agencies.
Perth and Peel are unarguably in desperate need of this development given that the population has increased by 500,000 residents in the last decade, but there has been negligible investment in the activity centres to cater for that growth.
The development industry has welcomed the changes as well with the UDIA noting that it provides residents in suburban areas with a high quality of amenity, services and public transport.
The Property Council has raised concerns that the activity centres policy may have been ‘too successful’ at stimulating investment in the strategic, secondary and district centres at the expense of the Perth CBD:
The CBD is also facing stiff competition from the major suburban shopping centres that are all undergoing a renewal into major activity centres that will compete with the CBD for retail and entertainment offerings.
Seven projects alone account for an estimated $2.5 billion (rounded) in capital expenditure across Perth over the next four years.
What’s going on? (major developments only)
|Centre||Floorspace (m2)||Construction timeframe||Est. cost ($ millions)|
|Garden City Booragoon||71,714 increasing to 120,000||2016–2019||$350-400 ($750 including residential)|
|Galleria Morley||73,203 increasing to 128,000||2017–TBC||$220 (stage 1)|
|Karrinyup||60,000 increasing to 113,300||2017–2020||$600|
|Westfield Carousel||83,122 increasing to 130,230||2017–2018||$235|
|Westfield Whitford City||105,000||2016-2017||$200|
|Westfield Innaloo||47,030 increasing to 99,000||2017-2019||$600|
 UDIA (2015) http://blog.udiawa.com.au/article/activity-centres-policy-boosts-shopping-centre-redevelopment
 Property Council (2016) https://www.propertycouncil.com.au/Web/Content/Opinion_Pieces/WA/2016/Perth_CBD_needs_a_new_plan_.aspx
 Master Builders Association (2015)
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