The Perth Hills Strategic Visioning Report (Regional Development Australia Perth 2020) identified key shared challenges across the Perth Hills.
Perth Hills Future aims to conduct community consultation processes to address these challenges.
1. Land use planning considerations unique to the Perth Hills require a structural intervention.
The five Perth Hills local governments party to this initiative are characterised by suburban areas on the coastal plain and a peri-urban interior. These areas have significantly different land use and economic development priorities and opportunities. The disconnect between these areas reduces the effectiveness of local planning schemes to guide effective statutory decision-making or to deliver on strategic plans. This is reinforced through similar misalignment of Perth Hills priorities with the primarily urban and suburban land development priorities of the Metropolitan Region Scheme. Community preferences across the Perth Hills are supportive of development, but highly conditional on maintaining rural and environmental assets and values and seek new planning and building standards adapted to the risk of extreme bushfire conditions. A legislative solution is commonly held as a useful means of improving planning and economic development strategy for the Perth Hills. Enabling precedents within Western Australia and other Australian jurisdictions seem to offer the legislative basis for a new Act aligned to Perth Hills development conditions.
2. Telecommunications and power outages are placing people at risk and disrupting business.
Telecommunications black spots and dropouts and frequent power outages are one of the compromises residents make in return for the open spaces and natural amenities that characterise life in the Perth Hills. However, they create serious impediments for businesses and significant community safety, health, and bushfire risks during emergencies. Emerging remote area technologies may offer a solution. These technologies combine solar energy, batteries, and mobile communications towers to strengthen mobile signals and stabilise local area power networks through microgrids where high rooftop solar generation is prevalent.
3. Public transport frequency and accessibility improvements are long sought after.
Public transport linking surrounding areas with activity centres is considered inadequate, particularly for segments of the community without personal transportation – those with disabilities, youth, and the elderly. New fit for purpose technologies may offer a cost-effective solution, that could connect the Hills north to south and support tourism growth.
4. Agricultural and bushland areas should be retained, regenerated and reinvigorated
Most respondents agree that retaining agriculture and bushland through improving integration with the lifestyle economy (destination tourism and lifestyle choices) is central to the retaining the character of the Perth Hills. This is in line with the top tourism asset that the community would like to see developed – food and wine trails – along with strongly held conservation preferences.
Perth Hills Future acknowledges the recent establishment of the Perth Hills Tourism Alliance which serves as a strategic alliance and demand driver to provide joint tourism marketing spread across the Perth Hills region and five local governments.
While Perth Hills Future seeks to explore the economic benefits of the lifestyle economy, we do not wish to duplicate efforts, but rather seek to collaborate and provide relevant data captured during the consultation process to further strengthen the aims of the Perth Hills Tourism Alliance that include:
Having the Perth Hills recognised as a key tourism precinct
Achieving unified marketing
Sourcing appropriate tourism investment funding
Product and industry development
Lobbying, advocacy and facilitating strategic alliances to achieve all of the above