A West Australian 40 years from today will most likely live in a small apartment above their local grocery store and catch a high-speed train to work.

They will be among five million people living in WA with 80 per cent of those residing in the greater Perth area.

Bunbury will be the State's second major metropolis and will eventually merge with Perth and the Peel region to become one extended urban area, interconnected by rapid transport routes.

A West Australian living in 2050 will pay much more for housing, groceries and amenities.

The availability of land, food security and dwindling water supplies will be the challenges of the generation.

This is the future of WA as laid out in the State Government's landmark planning strategy draft released this week.

It is not so much a bleak future as it is the reality of living in an era characterised by climate change, population growth and unprecedented global economic transition.

The first document of its kind since 1997, the planning strategy sets out a vision for WA to 2050 and beyond.

Planning Minister John Day said it would inform planning and development decisions throughout WA for the next few decades and help governments plan for future opportunities and challenges.

"WA is being shaped by population and economic growth, technological innovation and increased water and energy requirements," Mr Day said.

"In having to adapt to a changing and increasingly complex global environment, the need for strategic planning has never been greater."

The document, which has been released for public comment, predicts that WA's population could double to 5.4 million by 2056. About 75 per cent of the population will live in Perth and about a fifth will be aged over 65.

According to the strategy, the State will need 700,000 new dwellings to house this growing population. Multilevel, mixed-use apartment blocks will be the housing style of the future.

The document also points out that reduced rainfall and rising temperatures brought on by climate change will hurt WA's vulnerable agricultural industry and more importantly, impact water supplies.

Dam levels will plummet as demand for water doubles by 2040. Desalination plants will be the primary water supply source of the future.

Climate change will, however, boost renewable energies which will supply about a third of the State's power by 2050 while fossil fuels and coal diminish in significance.

The West Australian

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