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Achieving quality urban outcomes for all 09/07/2016

One of the main priorities of the urban development industry is achieving excellent outcomes for local communities and I am keen to address a common misconception that often arises about infill and density.

One of the main priorities of the urban development industry is achieving excellent outcomes for local communities and I am keen to address a common misconception that often arises about infill and density.

In planning and development conversations, the term ‘density’ is often referred to interchangeably with the term ‘infill’ and it is important to understand that these terms have two quite distinct definitions.

Density generally refers to the number of dwelling units per hectare that can be achieved in a particular location or development. Density is not exclusive to central metropolitan areas, with many middle and outer ring suburbs achieving higher densities than some inner ring suburbs.

Infill refers to any type of new development that occurs within an existing residential area and makes no reference to the level of density that may or may not be achieved.

Looking at specific locations, it is clear that density can be achieved in newer suburbs as well as existing suburbs.

Areas such as those within the recently completed Butler train station catchment, which includes extensive new development, is achieving a higher average density (2586 people per square kilometre) than older areas such as Mount Lawley-Inglewood (2563 people per square kilometre), Subiaco-Shenton Park (2222 people per square kilometre) and South Perth-Kensington (2404 people per square kilometre).

It is critical that discussions about new development move beyond pitting ‘infill’ against ‘greenfield’ and consider the broader benefits that a proposed development can achieve on its own merits.

Density in any location can result in greater amenity and activation of the surrounding area due to the increased viability of retail precincts, new parks and other facilities which are provided to service the new residents.

When planning for development in newer areas, it is important that government and industry work together to ensure communities are provided with appropriate access to services and amenity. This helps to ensure the long term sustainability and affordability of communities.

In existing residential areas, maximising the use of current amenity and services should be the goal and is best achieved through
flexible planning approaches that focus on the delivery of quality urban outcomes.

UDIA members are major supporters of creating vibrant, sustainable communities in both new and established areas. By working toward this common goal we can ensure that Perth continues to feature as one of the world’s most liveable cities.

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