Noongars hail new city square

Phoebe Wearne

Traditional land owners hope their involvement in designing the $73 million centrepiece of the Perth City Link development will set a precedent for the way the State Government does business with Aboriginal people.

The 1.1ha marketplace and thoroughfare between the arms of the horseshoe bridge, named Yagan Square after an Aboriginal warrior, will feature a futuristic "digital canopy" inspired by the lake system that ran through Perth's central business district until the 1800s, a fresh-food market and an 8500-seat amphitheatre.

It will have native gardens, a children's play area, public art and a digital tower with screens that will be able to broadcast events live.

The canopy will provide shelter during the day and become a lighting display at night, illustrating the area's history.

Unveiling the final designs yesterday, Colin Barnett said Yagan Square would provide a window into Noongar culture and traditions after significant consultation was done with traditional owners.

The Premier said the square would become a destination for people to meet and connect with the State's heritage, environment and culture.

"It will be a great public place, it will be very respectful to Aboriginal heritage and it will be a meeting place in Perth connected to major transport and other services," Mr Barnett said. "And while you will see it has Aboriginal heritage embodied in it, some of the technology, the science, the use of light and colour is going to be absolutely spectacular."

Karen Jacobs, of the Whadjuk people, said she was pleased with the engagement over the development and the cultural references that had been incorporated.

"The location is the heart of an ancient city for Whadjuk people," Ms Jacobs said.

"We hope that this sets a template for how the (Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority) does business with Aboriginal people and continues to develop the heart of our country, being Whadjuk country, and also sets a benchmark for the State Government."

Planning Minister John Day said the square would become the meeting place it once was, with tens of thousands of people expected to move through it every day.

Construction of Yagan Square is due to start mid-next year and be completed for its opening in early 2017.

Tourism Council WA chief executive Evan Hall said Yagan Square would be an impressive precinct where tourists could interact with locals and enjoy the Perth lifestyle. He said the development would improve Perth as a destination and increase visits to WA.

'The use of light and colour is going to be absolutely spectacular.'" Premier *Colin Barnett *