Heart Foundation cardiovascular health director Trevor Shilton said the State Government needed to realise the social, economic and health implications of both urban planning and correct residential design codes.
His comments come as State Planning Minister John Day considers a change to State legislation to cap residential design codes at R60.
If approved, the change will mean no developer will be able to build high-density dwellings on any lot zoned below R60.
Mr Shilton said there was a need to increase density through metropolitan Perth, but the State needed to be wary of going too far either way.
‘Density in and of its own is not the issue, it’s good density and there is of course such a thing as good density, but there’s no such thing as good sprawl,’ Mr Shilton said. ‘There is a very important public health dimension to this question of urban design.’
City of Stirling planning and development director Ross Povey said the City had submitted Amendment 32 in an effort to protect the amenity of residential areas coded below R60 but agreed there were other benefits to promoting smart growth.
Mr Povey said the City wanted to focus its urban infill closer to public transport hubs and community centres.
‘This can be a positive benefit, where high quality places are created that promote a sense of community, reduce reliance on private motor vehicles, reduce isolation of individuals, provide for a range of housing types, life stages and socio-economic groups,’ Mr Povey said. ‘These are some of the reasons why the City promotes higher density within, and close to, its town centres and along high frequency public transport corridors.
‘However, there are also many examples where high density environments can have the opposite effect.’
Mr Shilton said Perth needed to embrace higher density if it wanted to compete as a modern City but warned it needed to occur in the right areas.
‘We argue these things in silos; walking, cycling, public transport and physical activity will give you numerous community benefits, economically, environmentally as well a public health benefit and that takes vision and leadership to see the overall picture rather than think about it in terms of one thing,’ he said.