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Scheme shaped growing city
The West Australian

Half a century ago when the blueprint for Perth was drawn up, the "Kwinana" Freeway extended to South Perth, Mitchell Freeway did not exist and the entire urban population was less than half a million.

Yet architects who designed Perth as we know it today provided for a 100,000 capacity stadium at Burswood, train lines down the two freeways and the Perth City Link project as future needs.

The Metropolitan Region Scheme, which sets out all land use in the metropolitan area from Two Rocks south to Singleton, marks its 50th anniversary today.

Since enacted in 1963, the scheme has been amended more than 1200 times to keep pace with the city's changing needs.

It was born during the post-war boom when WA planners saw the need for a wide regional scheme to cater for a migrant-led population explosion.

British planning expert Professor Gordon Stephenson was flown in to partner WA town planning commissioner Alister Hepburn to help guide urban expansion for decades to come.

Professor Stephenson correctly predicted Perth's population would reach 1.4 million by 2000, that freeways would need integrated rail and bus systems and pointed out the Fremantle-Perth rail line was a barrier to the city's expansion and connectedness.

Less accurately, he forecast 180,000 people to work in central Perth by 2000 - more than double the actual figure.

But this projection may be realised a few decades late when projects such as Elizabeth Quay, the Riverside and Perth City Link are finished.

Planning Department director- general Eric Lumsden said the MRS was a pioneering document that enabled governments to reserve, acquire and consolidate land for future use. It meant the vision for Perth could become reality, underpinning infrastructure and assets.

Planning Institute of WA division president Charles Johnson said the MRS served Perth well but needed to be updated because Perth faced yet another population boom.