From the CEO - November 2017

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At the beginning of the month, I was in London for the second part of my 2017 International Study Tour to participate in the Australian British Chamber of Commerce’s Infrastructure Investment Catalyst. The Catalyst focused on major infrastructure projects such as Crossrail and High Speed 2 and was a coming together of 78 policy makers, infrastructure experts and practitioners from both Australia and the UK.

In 2015, I was briefed on Crossrail and at the time I reported that it was easy to understand why it would be a transformational project. A much-needed insertion into London’s rail network, I could not have envisaged the scale of the urban renewal it has catalysed, with investment from both the private and public sectors. Precinct planning has been critical to the above ground success of the project.

The first day of the Catalyst was spent in the West Midlands, starting in Birmingham where High Speed Rail 2 will be delivered in 2026. The catalysing effects are being felt long before the connectivity between London Euston and Birmingham drops from a 1.5-hour journey to just 40 minutes. Through the commitment to HS2, Birmingham is having a renaissance, growing its knowledge-based economy and increasing the presence of significant branch office functions, evident by the large number of cranes across the skyline.

A housing shortage emerged as a critical issue, with speakers at the Catalyst describing two- thirds of the country experiencing a ‘housing crisis’ and South East England’s situation being ‘acute’. The solutions being proposed are to increase densities in cities and towns where transport links are or will be strong, as well as opening up greenfield sites for new town developments.

At the end of my detailed trip report to the Board and B4 project Steering Committee I conclude with:

‘Metronet will add much needed capacity to Perth’s public transport network. However, the opportunity to do more than that must not be squandered. The government needs to take a precinct based approach to create vibrant, mixed-use communities adding to housing choice and diverse commercial/retail/hospitality offerings.’

After the Catalyst, I spent a day in Aberdeen. The north-eastern Scottish city is working to diversify its economy through a focus on its broad capabilities in the energy sector including oil, wind, wave and decommissioning, through the 1,000 companies located in the region.

There is nothing like being on-the-ground as a way to understand the complexities of cities and their economies. In the spirit of sharing information widely, my findings and learnings have already been communicated to key people in government. On 16 November we will hold a further event for members, so I can share what I learnt during my time away this year.

As we commence a frantically busy November, I look forward to the events and research we bring to the table to shape a bright and prosperous future for the Perth and Peel region.


Other articles from Insight, November 2017 (view email newsletter):