What can we learn from East Perth and Subi developments?

Planning Minister John Day has released case studies on Subi Centro and Claisebrook Village, to try and inform future urban planning and development.

“Both Claisebrook Village and Subi Centro had ambitious targets and, some 20 years later have set the trend for higher density living and innovation in urban regeneration,” Minister Day said. “In 1991, Claisebrook was an abandoned industrial wasteland, badly in need of regeneration. Today, it embodies the original objectives set by the East Perth Redevelopment Authority to create a modern urban community, while retaining and protecting the rich heritage and natural setting of the area.”

The Minister said the Subi Centro project was an internationally-recognised example of a transit-oriented development that demonstrated how a new community could be integrated into a well-established inner-city suburb.

“In creating Subi Centro, the Subiaco Redevelopment Authority relocated the railway and Subiaco Train Station underground – a bold decision for its time. This allowed Subiaco to be reconnected with the northern suburbs and made way for the popular Subiaco Square precinct,” he said.

Mr Day said that with a new amalgamated Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority scheduled to commence on January 1, 2012, it was important to reflect and learn from these early projects.

The Subi Centro case study can be found here and the Claisebrook Village case study here.


10 thoughts on “What can we learn from East Perth and Subi developments?

  1. Well it’s a very interesting comparison. Subi has been an unmitigated disaster. The life began to drain out of the place as soon as the railway line was sunk. Every wrong decision was made and Subi languishes while Mt Lawley and even Maylands start to become interesting. It is inconceivable that sinking the railway could have been such a mistake. Sinking the railway and “reconnecting” areas is not a panacea. Take note Northbridge. Almost everything built since then in Subi has its own special ugliness, eaveless apartments facing due west creating their own little overheated microclimate outside as there is no choice but to turn airconditioners to full. Markets and cinemas closing for more bad expensive apartments…Yuk It’s gone. Forget it.

    Now I am not so familiar with east perth, but there is a much better chance for the area i think, with the redevelopments on both sides of the river. There’s going to be people, a river, and possibly even some life. As long as whoever got their hands on Subi isn’t involved. I actually have some hopes for the Eastern end of the city. They’ll likely be dashed, but I still hope.

  2. Further to the above post, SRA wasn’t exactly working with a cooperative council and to this day they do everything they can to stifle anything that might be of interest. It is incredible that they would go to court over China Green being one or two stories too tall. East Perth and Northbridge however, well there is hope and at least the CoP shows some signs of actually wanting to create successful areas. NOTHING is going to be successful in terms of interest and vibrancy until there is a dramatic increase in population density. As the report said, whatever the the planned population, double it. It would be nice if EPRA/MRA took heed of their own advice for the three major projects they are going into now.

  3. SRA’s design guidelines for subi determined a lot of the aesthetic qualities – urban villages are a great concept – till they look like urban villages… its hard to create the complexity, interest and layers of time and space in one hit – particularly when you are required to produce 30degree pitched roofs.

    I think the other impact of the subi centro on subi was to take away diversity (population + built) – which is one the the strengths of Mt Lawley + Maylands.

    good ingredients to bake the urban renewal pie: diversity, intensity, activity, public space, scale differentiation, and design guidelines that frame a response rather than predetermine an aesthetic outcome (oh, and a couple of good small bars)

  4. The Subi disaster is one reason why I am very wary about the Northbridge venture. Sometimes having a “wrong side of the tracks” is a good thing. Having that boundary to cross allows different scale and pace of development, and even a certain seediness can be allowable. I think that a Nuevo Subi is very high on the cards for Nothbridge link.

    Yes, East Perth has the river and a lot of promise. There is already the scale of structure to bump up the population. I still hope.

  5. I think Subi is completely hamstrung by the lack of population diversity – it’s full of old / rich nimbys – and the consequent lack of foresight by sections of the council in terms of resistance to change. That plus the pricing out of the community of small businesses due to excessive rents. It desperately needs density and activation through a diverse demographic or it will continue to fail.

    Hopefully Northbridge will not suffer such a fate, as the sort of people who inhabit Subi are highly unlikely to opt for the higher density urban option. That said, I tend to agree with your “wrong side of the tracks” idea. Every city needs it’s difference…

  6. Whilst John Day’s enthusiasm for the process is commendable, this below to me paints a scary picture of the general lack of diversity in residential development over the last 10 years. This is not exactly sustainable…..let’s hope the next 10 years proves to be more so….

    “The ABS has released data on the type of building approvals in Western Australia and, considering these are crude measures, the housing mix has changed little in the last decade. Detached housing represents 82.3 per cent of residential approvals in 2011 and this is slightly higher than the 10-year average of 81.5 per cent. Semi-detached row or terrace houses represent 9.7 per cent of approvals in 2011, below the 10.7 per cent 10-year average. Flats, units and apartments make up the other 8 per cent of approvals in 2011 compared to the 10-year average of 7.8 per cent.

    Furthermore, the height composition of flats, units and apartments has remained little changed – again considering these are rigid measures of dwelling mix. Dwelling approvals for one or two storey flats account for 22.2 per cent of all flats in 2011 compared to the 10-year average of 23.7 per cent. Three storey flat dwelling approvals make up 17.7 per cent of all flats approved compared to the 10 year average of 16.1 per cent. And dwelling approvals for flats more than four storeys make up 60.1 per cent compared to the 10-year average of 60.2 per cent.”

  7. Vic Park tried to allow some new higher rise, and/or modernisation of the ageing higher rise they already have, and the locals came out with pitchforks and torches, so it’s not just Subi types that oppose these things. East perth was able to start from a base with much less established residential to protest (they were all kicked out decades ago), so hopefully the density and height can be ramped up as appropriate. I wouldn’t be surprised if that end of the city ends up as the main focus of Perth in time to come. Let’s hope,

  8. Subi’s other great loss was the Station St Markets.

    These markets even towards the end had some buzz and shopping diversity.

    That Coventry’s shed in Morley seems to be all we’ve got now, outside of Freo of course.

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