THE Chook takes its gaze north of the river today, courtesy of journalist MARK TILLY, who lives and works in the Perth CBD. We reckon his argument that the backlash against trying new things in the CBD hurts its long-term future has some resonance in Fremantle.
A SAFE CBD is a diversely-used CBD.
There was an article in another publication a few weeks ago about the state government’s idea to move Edith Cowan University’s WAPPA campus to the Perth CBD, where concerned residents were “mortified” by the prospect.
They cited concerns about the loss of community identity, apartments taking the facilities’ place, a lack of parking and safety concerns.
Some of these points are valid (it would be disheartening if you were used to using the facilities of a university campus) but from what I can gather they are only thinking of moving one section of the campus.
It’s frustrating that every time the government tries to do something to revitalise the CBD there is community backlash about “safety concerns.”
The exact same thing occurred when the state government proposed to relocate Perth Modern High School to a newly-designed CBD campus; the community was outraged and scared their children would be exposed to criminals and methheads.
There are already two private high schools in the inner city, but if the city was as dangerous and fearsome as people seem to think, surely we would hear more cases of child bashings and the like, but we don’t.
People constantly moan about the CBD being lifeless and overun by homeless people and drug addicts, to the point where local bands sing songs about it.
Yet the moment the government tries to do anything about diversifying the ways our CBD is used, people all of a sudden don’t want a bar of it.
Having something like a public school or a university campus in the CBD would be the kind of investment that would encourage people to live there; imagine a Perth CBD that families actually wanted to live in, close to a government school or a university campus.
Young parents wanting to live close to their offices could walk their kids to school in the morning before catching a CAT bus or walking a few blocks to their own workplace.
Students could live in apartments close by and cycle into campus without having to worry about lengthy commutes.
You wouldn’t need to worry about parking because people could use other means of transport, and considering the sprawling nature of Perth as a city, some more apartments in the inner suburb of Mt Lawley actually wouldn’t go astray.
More people working and living in the CBD would help raise its reputation and dispel the myth that it’s just home to suits and so-called “meth-zombies”.
However, moving a school or a university campus to the CBD is not the silver bullet that would transform it into a lively place to live and work.
It would be one of many government infrastructure developments needed to bring the city into the “lively” category.
If we’re going to make the Perth CBD a more attractive place to live, work and play, these large investments in how the city is used, by old and young alike, will need to be taken into consideration.