Samantha Reece recently attended the East Perth session of the Cities Summit that has been co-ordinated by Member for Perth John Carey.
Over 60 people attended this session which comprised of businesses, developers, residents and interested parties.
Quite predictably the session dealt with the areas strengths, its problems and what the community would like to see occur.
East Perth was liked because of its walkability, the gardens and open spaces, Claisebrook Cove and the fact that the area felt calm and relaxed. In particular the residents enjoyed the fact that while they were living in the City it felt like they were in fact residing in a suburb.
However, there were certainly rumblings about the impact of foot traffic once the Stadium was completed and inexplicably this turned into concerns about safety.
But what was very clear was that East Perth has a Monday-Friday, 9.00am-5.00pm heartbeat and hence outside these times East Perth appears somewhat of a ghost town.
Some of the residents however enjoyed this low profile stating that they could travel to Northbridge and Perth for their entertainment. But this tends to fly in the face of what a TOD (and that is the basis for East Perth) is all about.
There was a sense that East Perth was missing small bars and night activation and that the vacant business premises detracted from the overall vitality.
The community certainly wanted to activate the area around Perth Mint and also turn Wellington Square into a pleasant space to recreate in – rather than avoiding it all costs.
The audience talked about movies in the park, markets at the WACCA car park, setting up pop up shops in the vacant premises and overall a more cultural atmosphere.
This obviously has a cost factor associated with these activation strategies and while John Carey may be seeking the City to hire a place maker for East Perth – it also needs people. There is no doubt that East Perth has been undercooked for density – like Subiaco – but this is an aspect that can be rectified as we move forward.
With the Stadium due for completion in 2018 this will certainly increase flow through traffic – but will they in fact stay and recreate in East Perth? And this is very much the issue of the chicken and egg scenario. Do you create the amenity so that people stay – or do you wait for the crowd and then create the activation?
Either way – there are some real opportunities for East Perth on its horizon and this community can either embrace it – or turn their back on it. But from the conversation we observed, there is a real desire to turn East Perth into a 24/7 destination and that will take input from all parties and not just a place maker hired by the City of Perth!