Perth s first planner Paul Ritter dies
Perth's first planner Paul Ritter dies

Colourful former planner and City of Perth councillor Paul Ritter has died, aged 85.

His family said yesterday he had dementia and died peacefully on Monday after a battle with lung disease.

Often hailed as ahead of his time but dismissed by many as eccentric, the architect, social activist and inventor was the council's inaugural city planner in 1964 before he was sacked two years later amid claims of slow progress on a statutory plan for Perth.

He successfully sued for wrongful dismissal and later served as a councillor from 1968-86.

Among his achievements, Mr Ritter, who described himself as a "practical idealist", played a key role in stopping an eight-lane freeway on the Swan River foreshore where Riverside Drive now runs.

He also saved The Cloisters after negotiations with developers.

Among his artistic works, Mr Ritter was responsible for a sculpture outside Council House once famously described by comedian Barry Humphries as looking like a shish kebab. In the late 80s Mr Ritter served a 16-month jail sentence for attempting to obtain Commonwealth export grants he wasn't entitled to, though insisted "he was framed".

Daughter Erica Walker yesterday described her father as an "incredible visionary, probably a long way ahead of his time".

"He was always wishing he'd done a bit more, so we were always trying to reassure him what a contribution he had made," she said.

Mr Ritter was born in 1925 in Czechoslovakia and was 13 when he joined a refugee exodus to England before World War II. He was recruited as city planner soon after he visited Perth in 1964 on a world lecture tour.

An acclaimed architect, he also published at least a dozen books.

Mr Ritter leaves wife Jean, seven children, 15 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

The West Australian

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