Perth Waterfront debate

The Perth Waterfront is once again gaining attention.  The City Gatekeepers’ protest group has been formed to try and get the government to rethink the scale of the development and to incorporate the heritage elements associated with the Esplanade, one of Perth’s oldest recreation sites and a State heritage registered site. The West is running an on-line poll:

A protest rally and march will occur at the Esplanade at 11am on 26 February, and a petition will be presented to Parliament in March.

The City Gatekeepers have developed a petition and asked that we circulate this to our members who are also asked to circulate as widely as possible. The Petition must be returned to Linley Lutton, PO Box 5769, St Georges Terrace Perth 6831. This petition must not be altered and only original signatures are permitted. Faxed copies of signatures cannot be accepted. Petition+standard+form

The City Gatekeepers website is:

The History Council is also concerned that the Waterfront development will destroy the Esplanade, and that the processes required for consideration of a heritage site have not been fully implemented. We have drafted a Media Release outlining our arguments.  12.01.17 Perth Waterfront – Press Release

17 thoughts on “Perth Waterfront debate

  1. The Esplanade Reserve is an integral part of Western Australian history and must be preserved. From the earliest boat builders in Perth being located near and on the site; to the White City entertainment precinct; to the multiple political, recreation and sporting gatherings over the decades and to the many ANZAC Day parades and gatherings since I and many thousands of other Western Australians were children in the early 1950s, the Esplanade has always been a location of primary significance and importance to our sense of belonging to Western Australia. It must be maintained in the manner that it has been in past decades.

    To dig a big hole in essentially what is the middle of old mudflats on the banks of the Swan River and build multi-storey buildings around its edge is bordering on planning, architectural and engineering lunacy. Develop the peripheral areas around the Esplanade Reserve area by all means, but include concepts that will attract locals and nourish their sense of place. To pretend that five star, and more, hotel developments and thousands of square metres of commercial and office development constitutes a positive step in the preservation and enhancement of the cultural and historical connection of the City of Perth and the Western Australian public to the Swan River and the Esplanade precinct is absolute rubbish. A consultative approach to the development and enhancement of the riverside area must be undertaken. The political approach has continued to fail and is quite frankly an embarrassment to Western Australia. Remember the big shed that just appeared on the Esplanade before anybody knew it was approved. And now the visual attractiveness of the skyline of Perth has been all but destroyed by the completion of a bloody great milk carton smack in the centre of the City.

    There is no rush to develop and potentially destroy the cultural and heritage significance of the Esplanade. The current proposal will see between five and ten years of construction activity on the foreshore – if it started today! Who needs that? ‘Settle down.’ Let’s do something which will benefit all Western Australians for another hundred years – not just some short sighted blow-in hotel management group and a few foreign-financed commercial developers.

    Have a look at the Swan River during the working week – empty! Face it, no development of the type proposed is going to change that. Proper integration of a sense of place is what is required. The theory of connection to the river is crap. Perth does not connect to the river during the week. That will not change. Darling Harbour in Sydney is “empty” during week days. The same will happen to any similar concept on the Perth Foreshore.

    Whatever occurs at the Esplanade – provided that the reserve is maintained for the future use of all Western Australians – it must be a development that all Western Australians will be proud of. We do not want another “tricky Dickie” bell tower memorial. We should all step back and take a couple of deep breaths, get rid of the political interference and the resultant imbecilic thought processes, and proceed on a path of decision making that enhances the preservation of one of our most significant cultural and heritage sites for future generations of Western Australians.

  2. Totally disagree with development on the area which has been public open space for so long. The “duck” pond proposed, surrounded by buildings on E, N & W to 36 storeys will ensure it is not a pleasant area for public use, even for their boats. It is interesting that the building height is being “justified” as unecomonic unless “tall”, as the foundations have to go so deep! How is traffic supposed to move when the existing direct routes are lost? A new, bigger tunnel, at what cost? Where abouts is the replacement public open space, to replace that lost in the city centre, going to be provided? How could this project be justified let alone funded if the land was to be bought and replaced?
    It is another convention centre fiasco!

  3. “Sense of place” is an interesting argument for protecting the Esplanade. Nothing, as you say, “nourishes my sense of place” quiet like lawn and date palms. When I’m on the esplanade I feel like a could be in any city in the world, it is completely ubiquitous. I don’t think it’s helpful to cling to past mistakes just for histories sake.
    You mentioned replacement of the lost public space but surely the taller the buildings and higher the density, the more room available for public space. Some people need to face the fact that Perth is a city and urban not suburban development is required.

  4. Public open space, and the requirements of a heavily urbanised population for access to that space, were key issues in the development of major cities from the 1820s onward. The 1833 British Committee for Public Walks, for example, identified that an urban population needed to have access to active recreational spaces for activities like promenades and games in order to be healthy. The Esplanade and Stirling Gardens were created as a direct result of these international concerns and continue to be relevant today. It is by understanding the history of the site that we can identify those elements of its heritage that can and should be incorporated into any development.

  5. By all means we need some development around the foreshore but certainley not what this Liberal goverment presumes we the community agree to support , (according to the planning minister. ) This arrogant goverments plans on this important issue hopefuly can be stopped.

  6. With the current mess with water quality & visibility in the river due to the horrendous plume that can still be see from the air & underwater by scuba divers due to the Freo harbour dredging to even think of doing something like this right in front of the city is madness. Look onsite at the Water for Resources Centre’s data about water movement, oxygen degradation, etc. Much of that data sourced from Water Corp, Swan River Trust + other govt depts .. the stats don’t look good for flushing of anything, which is why the algae blooms have become more of a problem, so adding another mess on top of the current water flow problems, lack of rain decent enough to flush the river, etc, is going to cause even more problems.

  7. We were taken aback to hear Colin Barnett on ABC radio the morning of 31 Jan justify the project as a legacy to future generations.

    Green space is by far the greatest legacy any city government leaves for future generations. Replacing Perth’s scarce remaining green space and vistas over the Swan River with a small harbour surrounded with high buildings can not be justified. Describing it as a legacy for future generations is unconscionable. The project destroys what makes Perth an outstandingly visual city, and replaces it with a poor imitation of what has been constructed in Melbourne or Dubai.

    A Perth taxi driver commented to us that this plan is no better than the canal project prior to the 2005 election. Taxi drivers usually get it right.

  8. An online petition is available at (search on ‘rethink the Waterfront development’ and the City Gatekeepers are preparing an official petition for presentation to Parliament. You can find the petition on their website, or you can attend the rally on the Esplanade at 11am on 26 February.

  9. Six years now in Perth. Having lived in quite a few cities, on quite a few continents, I think Perth people appreciate their parks, green spaces, beaches and clean air. Many however do not realise what a great city this is to live in for real quality of life and health benefits. I am unconvinced that such a development will, in the long-term, be a positive move for Perth.

    I use the Esplanade area a lot (3-4 times a week) and I am not alone, hundreds of people every day cycle, run, play rugby, footy, frisbee, do boot camps or circuit training in the space that will be developed. Many are office workers who use this space instead of expensive gyms to work out in.

    I also worry that iconic events, both sporting and fund raising, will suffer. The Santos Round the River bike Ride, the Chevron Perth City to Surf Marathon, the Asics Bridges fun run, the HBF run for a reason, the Nissan/BRW Corporate triathlon, the City of Perth Olympic triathlon-all are affected by these proposed developments nevermind the 10,000 of cars who drive along it each day.

    Deep down, if local government had demonstrated a good track record of such developments I would maybe be more forgiving of such plans. However I have not, in these 6 years, seen the monstrosity on Wellington St completed, the site of the new Eagles football club or a variety of other project completed/decided upon, or completed on time and in budget and this is most worrying.

    I have asked several times on the Waterfront development site for answers to these and other issues but have (in a month) as yet heard nothing back from them at all. Not even an acknowledgement that the questions have been asked. I do not trust them to complete such a development and I think it will spoil what is a great resource in the centre of Perth that differentiates it from other cities in the world.

  10. I’m going to swim against the tide.
    I think the current proposal will fundamentally improve the city – by allowing the CBD to expand towards the river. Let’s be clear about what is being proposed: the expansion of the city block in the only direction it can realistically go – southwards. Hay and Murray Streets both have height restrictions that discourage developers from looking north. Wellington Street, because it’s a broad boulevard, does encourage higher buildings but commercial centres thrive when they can be concentrated within a cluster of city blocks. Whatever we may wish for, Perth’s CBD must and will grow. This is an opportunity for that growth to be planned and managed in a way that offers long-term opportunities. Until now the CBD has grown in a thin ribbon, virtually down one street. Giving it another two blocks into which it can expand will strengthen its viability.
    The only issue I see with this project is that I don’t believe the Government has been entirely honest in promoting it as bringing the river into the city. It’s really about bring the city down to the river – and offering up a modest water feature (the inlet) as a trade-off.
    What will we lose? A stretch of ground that is reclaimed river.
    Yes, it was a meeting place for a variety of activities over the years – and those activities will continue elsewhere without losing any of their relevance or vitality.

  11. The Suez canal is in Egypt. Perth City does not need a Sewers Canal at our foreshore and on the doorstep to the City. Absolutely no proper planning for the re-routing of all the already existing current traffic congestion on major arterial roads and the further congestion which will follow on the closure of Riverside Drive which is the western gateway to the Narrows Bridge, Stirling Highway, the City and West Perth and the eastern gateway to the Causeway.

  12. The loss of Riverside Drive will also result in increased traffic in Kings Park Road and Thomas Street. No doubt the project enthusiasts will next be wanting to slice bits off the North and West edges of Kings Park to accommodate the increased traffic down these roads.

  13. Who says we were alarmist in thinking “The Esplanade today, tomorrow Kings Park”?

    Did you notice the letter in the West on 14 March 2012 bemoaning the fact that “the Kings Park ridge” has been “left to the will of botanists and powerful ex-servicemen’s organisations” instead of being “placed in the hands of imaginative Hungarian or French designing engineeers” ?

    Well it’s about time!! It’s “so boring” up there – just trees, grass, fresh air, views of the river and memorials to our war dead.

    Wouldn’t it be great if we had a bit of “buzz” in the Park and got it connected to the real world? What about a casino and some cheap blocks on the scarp for the developers and their mates? After all they deserve it. Our forefathers (and mothers) weren’t clever enough to even think about selling off the Esplanade in the days when they could have done with the cash.

    And of course aren’t the developers and their lackeys so wonderfully modern in not paying for the tunnel that will inevitably have to be built in 20 or 30 years time to replace Riverside Drive? At a cost twenty times what it would cost if it was done now. “Someone else” will pay for that won’t they?

    But while the next generation is paying off our debt, I can feel in my bones just how thrilled they’ll be that we were able to sip a latte and guzzle a few G & Ts in the shadows of the multi-storey buildings around the edge of the Colin Barnett Memorial Duckpond.

    And I just know the next generation will thank us for the Convention Centre as they are paying off the tunnel we wouldn’t build. Compared to what will emerge after our city is dug up over the next 10 -20 years, that old shearing shed, sensibly facing away from the river, will look like the Sydney Opera House.

    And of course history tells us just what experts Joe Stalin and all the other dictators were in creating a “buzz”? They really got it didn’t they? Just can’t wait for it to happen to us. We could never have done it on our own you know!

    Thanks Mr Barnett, Mr Day and not to mention Mayoress Scaffidi. I will make sure my grandchildren remember who to thank for the great improvement to the awful city in which we were so unlucky to live in its present primitive condition.

    Your devoted servant


  14. I was wrong!!

    Have just seen the press release from the Planning Minister’s office published as news in the Sunday Times. That artist’s impression of the waterfront development is just sooooo beautiful! I can feel the buzz already! Why, those skyscrapers in the background don’t even look like they are there. It’s AMAZING!!

    Can we have an artist’s impression of the Convention Centre in next week’s edition please??


  15. “On 31 March 1880…Reserve 423 and known as the New Recreation Ground, was handed over to the Perth Municipal Council by deed of grant ‘for the free recreation and enjoyment of the people forever’.” (Heritage Council of WA, Register of Heritage Places, Assessment Doc’n, Esplanade Reserve, 17/10/2003: p.5)

    The current farcical situation related to the Esplanade Reserve is not just a matter of what is ‘proposed to be built’ on and in the reserve land, the adjoining land and the Swan River, even though the current proposal is beyond sensibility, the situation is also a very serious matter of trust. This is a matter that strikes at the very heart of our legal system within Western Australia.

    The trust that our forefathers expected of us – a trust that legally bound all of the people and institutions of Western Australia by way of a Crown Grant – a trust for the benefit of the people of Western Australia – instilled ‘forever’ – is about to be – or is in the process of being savagely breached – totally disregarded by a current government system that completely sets aside any comprehension of a perpetual trust that was (is) expected and commanded by our forefathers.

    The situation is disgusting. The wishes of our forefathers must be honoured completely or we all fail as a community.

  16. This is no time for grandeous Developments in the City. It’s a time to introspect about ways ahead for Perth and on creative solutions for a sustainable future for us all. The boom is over – this time forever and many people out there are becoming more desperate. We need to talk about the redistribution of the wealth in this country and how we can help the have nots.

    The PerthForeshore has been a place of recreation and protest since the beginning of the colony and our last piece of earth connecting the city to the earth. A place where people can connect after coming out of a concrete world. It connects us to our History and to our home. These are the things that are under attack from this Government.

    Are we really going to stand by and watch the next wave of destruction of our natural environment – another wave of land grabbing and violence. It was this and the damage done to our first nation people that Kevin Rudd with the backing of so many of us has apologised for.

    The environmental solution are all there. It’s just a matter of money. Let’s go to talk about no more wastage, about renewable energy resources for everyone, about decentralisation and resettling the farms.

    Perth has reached an optimum size for it to be a sustainable and pleasant place to live . We deny this at our peril. Say No to the Perth Foreshore Development – there is still time.


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