Hundreds of thousands more than forecast
Hundreds of thousands more than forecast

Perth is set for a population explosion, prompting calls for a major re-think of planning policies and infrastructure investment in the next 14 years.

Latest population forecasts released yesterday in the report WA Tomorrow, show the State was expected to grow by 750,000 people to 3.06 million by 2026 - about 450,000 higher than estimated in 2006.

The Perth and Peel regions will grow by about 650,000 people - the equivalent of almost nine Mandurahs - to 2.4 million as it outstripped estimates in State planning policy Directions 2031 by about five years.

Significantly, though it took from 1971 to 2006 for WA to grow by one million people, the next one million will likely take only 20 years.

Experts believe the growth will put great pressure on Perth's public transport, drive up electricity bills and fuel demand for more schools and teachers.

Speaking at a Committee for Economic Development Australia lunch, Planning Minister John Day said the new forecasts were based on an expectation of continued economic prosperity, as well as higher fertility and overseas migration rates.

He said the data, which included varying rates of growth, highlighted the need for major city projects such as City Link, the Perth waterfront and Riverside. It also showed there was a need for further urban consolidation, a diversity of housing and an efficient planning approvals system, he said.

Although it would be a challenge to "bring along the wider community", he also singled out local councils, saying those not prepared to make modest changes to facilitate infill development would find the changes "will be made for them".

Planning Institute of WA president Charles Johnson said the forecasts had major implications for infrastructure planning in some councils and he called on State plans such as the 20-year public transport strategy to be brought forward.

Committee for Perth chief executive Marion Fulker said the higher growth rates, which her organisation predicted in its own report last November, should be a wake-up call.

"It's not all going to trickle in month by month, week by week," she said. "Overall, Perth is going to be a bigger city and other than Directions 2031 and the transport plan, there doesn't seem to be this whole-of-government sense that we are growing and we're growing quickly."

Mr Day said Perth had sufficient land zoned for development and the State's 47 per cent infill target was sufficient, though new dwelling targets for each local government area may be reviewed.

However, Property Council of WA executive director Joe Lenzo said to achieve this, the Government had to ensure infrastructure was in place for greenfield development, and all local councils needed to support urban infill.

Shadow planning minister Peter Tinley said the population explosion would stretch power, water and housing resources. <div class="endnote">


The West Australian

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