The CityVision Manifesto 2011


Why a Manifesto?

CityVision published its first Manifesto in August 1988, under the title of New Directions for Central Perth”. We felt a need then to set out a clear and succinct set of objectives, to point the way forward for the City’s future development.

More than twenty years later the need is still there, as great as ever.

Perth has changed, mostly for the better…

In the intervening years there have been many changes, most of them for the better. They include:

  • creation of a new City of Perth, focussed solely on the inner city area – the capital city area;
  • a dramatic increase in inner city living, with residents increasing from     to,     far outstripping the significant metropolitan growth over the period;
  • the saving of Council House, a symbolically important and architecturally iconic building;
  • the expansion of the metropolitan railway system, greatly increasing accessibility to the capital city;
  • a livelier inner city at night, but with increased antisocial behaviour in Northbridge;
  • greater awareness of Perth’s social/political significance as the capital city of Western Australia;
  • ignificantly increased importance of the city, both economically and financially, based on the State’s resource development; and
  • with that, a less introverted outlook, increasingly looking to our trading partners in East Asia – and our own time zone, – rather than to our sibling cities to the east.

… but still fails to reach its potential.

For all Perth’s wonderful natural inheritance and its material prosperity, there is, still, a human failure to grasp opportunity and realise Perth’s potential as a city. There remains an enormous disparity between

Perth as it is and Perth as it could be. How is this so?

There is no widely shared or unified vision of the future Perth, no insightful leadership, precious little dialogue – let alone active collaboration – between those stakeholders whose decisions shape the city. Even less is there informed dialogue between the decision-makers and the community of citizens of Western Australia.

Above all there is a desperate need for a common understanding of our city, and a shared, holistic view of its future. In the absence of this our wealth will simply compromise those qualities that we profess to value, depriving us of much of the potential that we have. There is already strong evidence of this. At best we may continue on our ad hoc, short-term thinking way, accepting, even applauding, the second-rate.

CityVision responds…

CityVision has long advocated the need for the future of the capital city to be based on these things:

  • a clear understanding of Perth’s unique resources of place, heritage and people;
  • a unified vision of the future Perth, bringing together all of the relevant elements in a single vision and strategic plan;
  • a commitment to all working together to realise that vision; and
  • an open system that welcomes rigorous debate and discussion.

This manifesto attempts to set out the enduring principles and values that can inform such an approach.

… and a call to action

And, because a manifesto is, above all, a call to action, this Manifesto is accompanied by an Agenda for Action, one that can, and should, be regularly reviewed as to its relevance.

The Vital Attributes of the Capital City

This manifesto is CityVision’s response to twelve attributes or objectives that we have identified as important for Perth as the Capital City of Western Australia:

  • Perth’s Status as the Capital City
  • Diversity and Vitality
  • Equity/Inclusiveness
  • Safety
  • Economy
  • Heritage
  • Sustainability
  • Culture
  • Accessibility
  • Liveability
  • Beauty
  • Governance

Objective 1: A Proud Capital City

Capital cities have attributes that set them apart from other cities. Perth’s development should have these qualities:

  • public buildings and spaces that signify the political and social status of the City, as the State’s seat of government;
  • a place for the key State institutions and cultural facilities;
  • open spaces on a generous scale, including spaces for political and celebratory gatherings.
  • streets, places and vistas designed to enhance ceremonial and celebratory events;
  • significant public art that commemorates, interprets and animates the city;
  • buildings, spaces, objects, facilities and organisations that symbolically express the cultural identity of the State;
  • visual prominence given to the State’s major buildings, especially the Parliament and the superior courts; and
  • prominence to State shrines and memorials.

Objective 2: A City of Diversity and Vitality

Perth should embrace the widest, most beneficial and diverse range of activities suited to its status as the Capital City, its location, and its people. The principles that follow from this are that Perth should:

  • include a rich diversity of people and cultures, both residing in and visiting the city;
  • be the main centre of business, entertainment, culture, commerce/retail and other activity;
  • be the location of major civic, cultural and other facilities including both buildings and public spaces; and
  • jealously protect its heritage – built, indigenous and natural.

Objective 3: A City of Equity and Inclusiveness

Perth should be an inclusive place. It should be equally welcoming, and its benefits available, to people of all ages, origins and means. The principles that follow are that Perth’s development should:

  • recognise the rights and needs of indigenous people;
  • ensure an adequate supply of affordable housing to meet the needs of all people who need to be located near the City centre;
  • provide for the special needs of disabled people;
  • ensure that the City  and all of its public facilities, functions and activities are accessible and affordable to all people of the State; and
  • ensure highly efficient and affordable public transport into and around the City  centre.

Objective 4: A Safe City

Perth should provide a safe and secure environment. Its development should:

  • ensure that all people in the city (including the young, the old and the handicapped) can enjoy the city in safety and security;
  • include public open spaces that are made safe for enjoyment, night and day; and
  • ensure that  public transport is safe, for all those who wish or need to use it.

Objective 5: A Strong and Resilient Economy

Perth’s development should provide opportunities to optimise economic activity and enterprise. It should:

  • celebrate the unique qualities of Perth, its people and its environment, and capitalise on Perth’s liveability to attract business investment into the City;
  • ensure that support and opportunities exist for new and diverse businesses to establish in the City, to broaden its economic base;
  • facilitate the opportunity for businesses that are active in the State to locate their head offices in the City centre;
  • promote Perth as the prime centre for specialist retailing in the State;
  • provide facilities and activities that will draw tourists and business visitors to the City;
  • support cultural and entertainment activities as attractors for both businesses and skilled and talented people;
  • encourage specialised and creative businesses, including all the arts, to locate in the City; and
  • seek out, encourage and support major State, national and international events to take place in the City.

Objective 6: A City that Values its Heritage and its History

Perth should retain and build on its cultural, indigenous and natural heritage. It should:

  • actively seek to retain all those parts of its heritage that contribute to the identity and story of the City, State and nation;
  • promote understanding and respect for the cultural, indigenous and natural heritage of the City;
  • encourage adaptive re-use of heritage buildings in the City; and
  • provide extensive public recognition and interpretation of heritage places, events and the people related to them.

Objective 7: A Sustainable City

Perth should become a leader in sustainability of the natural, social, economic and built environments. It should:

  • maintain a healthy balance between the green and built spaces in the City;
  • require all new buildings and major redevelopments to have a minimal impact on the environment and meet scientifically defined sustainability criteria;
  • retain and reuse existing building stock where feasible;
  • ensure that there is resilience and flexibility in the movement systems of the City; and
  • encourage recycling.

Objective 8: A City of Spirit and Culture

Perth should provide for a flourishing community and cultural life. It should:

  • ensure that major arts, cultural, sporting and entertainment facilities of State significance are located in, or closely accessible to, the City;
  • provide venues and support for significant celebrations that involve the wider community;
  • provide locations and facilities for individuals and groups to freely express political, social and cultural viewpoints; and
  • ensure that the State’s indigenous cultures have a significant presence in the city.

Objective 9: An Accessible City

Perth must be easily accessible and economical to get to, easy to move around in, and comfortable to be in. To achieve these aims:

  • ensure convenient, frequent, comfortable and affordable access to the City from the metropolitan area and the State generally;
  • ensure the primacy of the pedestrian in the City, including generous footpaths and vehicle-free public spaces;
  • ensure adequate parking is provided in the City for short-term and business use.

Objective 10: A Liveable City

Perth should attract a large and diverse residential population. It should:

  • encourage investment in inner city housing, including owner occupied and affordable rental housing; and
  • ensure the provision of all the facilities necessary to support and enhance inner-city living, including primary and secondary schools, parks, medical facilities, weekly and daily shopping, recreational amenities, etc.

Objective 11: A Beautiful City

Perth should capitalise on and be sensitive to its beautiful natural setting and its heritage, and seek beauty in every aspect of its design. It should strive to:

  • build on the positive relationship between the City’s street grid and its strong natural setting, nestled beneath Mount Eliza alongside Perth Water and bound on the east by the Swan River;
  • achieve the highest standard of design and sensitivity to place for all buildings and spaces in the City;
  • acknowledge that (only) special buildings and locations call for exceptional, “iconic” buildings;
  • recognising the climate of Perth, use water to enhance the ambience of the City, and trees to provide beauty and shade from the sun and places of landscaped and natural beauty; and
  • acknowledge the importance of grand spaces, vistas and axes in the planning and location of key buildings, spaces and objects.

Objective 12: A Planning System to Provide Excellent Outcomes for the Capital City

Perth, as the Capital City of the State, needs special arrangements for its planning and development. These arrangements must recognise that the State government is a major stakeholder together with the City of Perth, and that the capital belongs to all Western Australians. Consequently:

  • important decisions that affect the planning and development of the Capital City should be made by a new, independent planning body that represents the State government, the City of Perth and all citizens of the State;
  • this body should be responsible for preparing and maintaining an overall vision for the capital city and a strategic framework for its development, in consultation with all stakeholders and the community as a whole;
  • the location and scope of all major projects must be considered holistically, in relation to an agreed  strategic framework plan or, in the absence of one, in the context of a full investigation of the impacts on the city and on competing uses for  sites under consideration;
  • all major projects must be subjected to extensive and ongoing public scrutiny before being finally locked in.

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