February 8, 2011

Perth : McShit



"The population density for JUST the CBD/central city area of Perth... is lower than that of the entire metropolitan suburban area of Los Angeles, California."

What follows is an "only in Perth" story of ineptitude and face-palmery. First, the background story. On the corner of Beaufort Street and Parry Street's in Perth City, lies a vacant block. It's been vacant for many years. Without doubt, it is one of the prime CBD fringe blocks. Walking distance to pretty much every amenity, it would be, without exaggeration, one of the most convenient places on earth to live. Free transport to your door. Supermarket across the road. (Coles, as featured in the very first post ever made here). The Weld Square park is across the road. Heart of Northbridge, a two minute walk. CBD, four minute walk. TAFE, Art Gallery, State Library, Museum, and the Good Fortune Roast Duck House, all nearby. Multi-storey residential developments popping up all around this block. Really, it's close to faultless. So what happened?



As Jan Gehl, the respected urban design consultant from Copenhagen pointed out to the Perth City Council, one of the critical issues that Perth needs to sort out is it's lack of CBD/inner city population density. The population density for JUST the "built up" central CBD/City area of Perth (8 square kilometers), as at the 2006 census, was lower than the entire metropolitan area of Los Angeles, California (1,290 square kilometers). What? Are you shitting me, I hear you say. Yes, the entire Los Angeles metro area, the poster child city for urban sprawl, has a population density of 3,168 people for every one of it's 1,290 square kilometers. Perth City itself, had less than 800 residents per square kilometer as at the last census (2006). It will have improved since 2006, but will still be much lower than the smoggy suburban sprawl that is Los Angeles. The Perth suburban metro area statistics show only about 300 people per square kilometer.

You would expect, when presented with an application for a 24 hour drive thru McDonalds, on a prime inner city block, the Town of Vincent would put together a 168 page document in a non-timely fashion that essentially said to McDonalds - get the fuck out of here. You would be right. Of course, Mayor McCatania originally supported this plan, it should be noted. A block like this should be developed at least four storeys high and should have at least a hundred residents (conservatively), just to even match the Los Angeles sprawl.  Town of Vincent proclaimed the McDonalds application, amongst other things, an "under-development" of the site, denying the fast-food monolith. Right they were. Single-level fast food drive-through on the CBD fringe? Doesn't happen anywhere on Earth in 2011. At this point, the application was rejected by the Town of Vincent.

McDonalds then decided, fuck that, we're appealing this decision. Afterall, there are McHappy Meals and childrens toys at stake here. At the Western Australian State Administrative Tribunal, the appeal was upheld. In summary, the judgement proclaimed (paraphrased):  "There is nothing in the law stating that a prime inner-city site in a city where the sprawl is out of control leaving the CBD like a fucking ghost town cannot be used for a single level Maccas Drive Through with a car park. Not only can I get wasted at Barry's house in Northbridge, I will be able to get some munchies on my way back to Mount Lawley without ever leaving my new 7-Series cock-mobile. McDonalds, fucking go for it!".

So, in summary, yes, you will soon to be able to buy a Big Mac on your way out of the city. Other conclusions could also be made, mostly negative. Don't get me wrong, this decision, when taken in isolation, is not the end of the world. It is however, a clear bellwether for likely future decisions, and another example of the face palm nature of living in Perth. Unfortunately, nobody with any influence in Perth is brave enough to tackle the population density issue seriously.

Oh yeah, that whole thing about running for Council? Fuck that! Thanks for offers from the media and from previous campaign managers, but seriously, I'd rather have a bunch of monkeys rip my head off and shit on my brain than be a Perth City Councillor.

Comment away....

(no, I am not anti-McDonalds)

41 comments:

acc521 said...

This is the kind of shit that, when looking in from London, makes me dread the day that I have to inevitably return home.

Anonymous said...

The theme of your article is good, agree that it would be better to have a apartment tower or similar on this lot, but that theme is lost in a stupid rant.

McDonalds is a business and exists to make money, grow and employ people. If I had a profitable business, or a business proposal that I considered would make me money, then yes I too would appeal any rejection from the council.

You calling them McShit and essentially derriding the customers that would use the establishment makes you come across as snobbish and base at the same time.

It's a pity you have taken this tone, as I do agree with your premise that the site could be better used. Any apartment tower with shops on the ground floor (including a McDonalds) would be my idea.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry anon 8:38am but the days of a multinational doing whatever it takes to maximise their profits with no regard to the effects that it has on society are over. Yes they probably can legally do it but whether they should morally do it is what they should be asking.
And believe it or not they do operate in our society so as a society we are able to take a stand and voice our disapproval through whatever means we have. Just because they can afford the million dollar lawyers doesn't make them 'right' and doesn't mean that they are the only ones that should be heard.

Anonymous said...

they should approve it

Anonymous said...

I think the issue here is actually poor business sense from whomever is proposing the McDonalds franchise. Will they really make more money from a single level Mcdonalds than from a multi-level apartment block which has ground level retail?

Unless there is some planning regulation preventing it, I don't see why the site can't have both a McDonalds and apartments? In central Canberra (please no jokes) there is a McDonalds, drive-through and all, on the bottom level of a ten level apartment complex.

If it is possible in Canberra to have your Big Mac and eat it too, why isn't it possible in Perth?

N. said...

Anon 8:38, you must be new around here. Ranting is a bit of a central theme. Me, McSnobbish? Your comment has more of a McCunty tone than my entire article.

Suze said...

Amazing. You can't get a seven storey boutique hotel approved on Beaufort Street, but a single level McDonalds is approved no problem. Great (and entertaining!) article - needed to be told.

Anonymous said...

Only in Perth. I love this city but sometimes it pisses me off >:(

N. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
N. said...

Suze, thanks for the compliments. Great point about the Hotel on Beaufort Street, why on Earth did Town of Vincent reject that one? I'm not saying vested interests, but.....

A four star Hotel, in a great part of town, on a very bust street, large site, rejected??? Makes no sense. Town of Vincent = NIMBY lovers?

Anonymous said...

I read this article and all I could think was "woo soon I'll have a closer McDonalds to my house!"

Anonymous said...

Interesting rant...however I note you want to complain about decsions made but not get involved. Anyone can bitch about the decsions but it takes people wanting to make decsions that counts. Personally I am happy to see the eyesore developed and if someone want to buy the site for appartments down the track when the dodgy park is cleaned up I'm cool with that too.

N. said...

How do you know I wasn't involved? Mind-reader? Stalker? Magical fairy? ..hmmm maybe you're just an anonymous keyboard warrior assuming shit? Nah. Couldn't be. Thanks for the compliments anyway, anonymous lady!

joeb said...

to be fair the Town of Vincent didn't approve either application - they're extremely consistent . I'm sure if the hotel applicant set a big expensive pack a legal dogs upon SAT that they'd get through as well . It's how all good planning decisions should be made - trust the dollar, it knows best .

N. said...

Joeb, yes. As I mentioned in the article, Town of Vincent denied the application. Although, Mayor McCatania initially supported it.

Anonymous said...

Well N...I need not be a mind reader given the last para of your blog...you know how you would rather have monkeys rip your head off. You self righteous shit if you don't want peoples opions don't ask for them....oh sorry only those who agree allowed.

Anonymous said...

"Whinge whinge whinge...but I don't want to run for Council and have direct involvement in decision making".

Are you serious?

Put your money (and criticism) where your mouth is...

N. said...

Will you vote for me, young Lady? Clearly those who disagree with this are having their say here, and I clearly would like the comments section to be a record of people's opinion, whether they agree or disagree it's not important to me. What's important is everyone get's to have their say. Thanks for your valuable input though, maybe attach a name next time? PS, there has been approval for a four level apartment development next door, which will only go ahead if enough people are willing to pre-pay between 400 and 655k to live next door to a 24 hour drive-through. Time will tell, and keep checking back, the next story is a doozy.

Anonymous said...

Joel - "It's how all good planning decisions should be made - trust the dollar, it knows best."

Hmmm...perhaps one should look at the SAT ruling. I don't believe that
the number of legal dogs representing the applicant was taken into consideration in making the determination.

It was something to do with...oh...i don't know...the application complying will the Vincent planning requirements.

If Vincent wants a certain outcome in certain areas, then they need to introduce appropriate controls. Seems logical to me, or is that too rational?

You can't just say, hey, we want you to develop this, especially when your controls don't require that...and to some extent, preclude that!

Joeb said...

One's right to do something does not guarantee that it's the right thing to do.
SAT can be, and is, used by developers and multinationals to ensure that projects, whose main driver is to fulfill the mandate of the company [ie return maximum profits], get approval.
And in such cases it doesn't hurt to have lawyers who charge at an obscenely high rate to 'ensure their client's rights are protected', even if it's at the expense of the community or against the intent of the planning requirements. A democratically elected Council should have some scope to rule on behalf of the community.
The alternative is to legislate to such a degree that planning 'guidelines' are 10,000's of pages long and all development is hampered. Even then you can't allow for every possible circumstance and guidelines can't react fast enough to changing conditions.

Descending further into a nanny state might be rational but surely commonsense is preferable.

Anonymous said...

N you should so run for council!

Anon - I gather that there were different opinions regarding what the ToV controls did and didn't allow - I must admit my reading of it is that Maccas got a bit lucky on this one... maybe a better planner representing them (like having a good lawyer).

Aaron said...

i enjoyed your frank and concise explanation of the situation here in perth. as someone designing multi unit sites on the fringes and urban infill sites where zoning allow, i too have had a gutfull of the WAPC and their self absorbied policy making. DC policy in this state would have to be about 40 years behind ANYWHERE ELSE in the world - stupid things like engineers calculating 10 trips per day PER HOUSE when it comes to traffic movements....who uses their car this much ANYWHERE? the new residential design codes will at least double what we can now put on a plot of land with half the car parking requirements for those within 800m of a trainstation or major bus route.

thank god. at least someone saw the light and got SOMETHING right.

Anonymous said...

better planner?

oxymoron much?

Anonymous said...

True - it's all about the control v. flexibility balance. If the Town wishes to see a certain outcome, they must mandate it, or buy land and become developers themselves.

If flexibility is desired, then there are no guarantees.

I wonder if anyone would have given a shit if it were to be a Dome or Nandos? I think the reaction would have been a lot less.

And finally, not one person actually provided a good reason why a fast food store is not a good land use for the site? It's a legitimate service which surrounding residents have the opportunity to use. How can people be attracted to the inner city if all they get is a suburb of apartments.

We can keep using the terms "developers" and "multinationals" etc, so why doesnt anyone arc up against Coles when they went in across the road. They have a multinational share base. Oh wait, they only sell healthy food - yeh right!

N. said...

^^
anon, I agree, the reaction would not have been as strong if it was something other than McDonalds. Maybe I wouldn't have written the article. Whether or not fast food is a good use of the site is not the issue, for me. Whether a single level drive through anything is a good use for the site. I can 100% say with honesty, if it was a McDonalds with a 4 level apartment building above it, for me, it would have been a good outcome, in my opinion.
Nobody arc'd up against Coles, because:
a) There were no supermarkets in the area, at all.
b) There is about 100 apartments above the supermarket.
c) It wasn't an "underdevelopment" of the site.
It has zero to do with their share base or what food they sell. I would have preferred an Aldi or some other company that isn't currently in WA, to increase competition, but hey, it's a pretty good outcome.
I agree with you, and other comments, that the Town must mandate to expect an outcome.
In the meantime, this will be repeated again and again, and it appears Perth will do little to improve it's low density destiny.
Also, I am very aware that the majority of people in Perth love McDonalds, and love low density living.
Thanks for your comments.
------------
Anon 9:59 - bring on the new design codes, not a moment too soon!

Anonymous said...

I was intrigued with your comparisons between Perth and LA. Why would we want to achieve those kind of density figures? I agree Perth needs to increase it's CBD density and stop the urban sprawl, but surely LA isn't the Utopia we should be aiming for is it?
C

Anonymous said...

I think the point is that LA is the global archetype of sprawl, and the comparison is a good one as even our densest areas are not as dense as the LA average.

N. said...

Thanks C, yes, they are intriguing comparisons. The use of Los Angeles was not to provide an "aim" for Perth, but more as a mechanism to show that Perth's urban sprawl really is quite out of control - even when comparing to a city like Los Angeles. The irony is, the term "Los Angelisation" has been used to describe urban sprawl. However, the sprawl in Perth, by any measure, is multitudes worse than Los Angeles.
It would be wise for the current Perth planners to take this seriously, and plan for a much smarter future Perth.

N. said...

ANon 10:55 - BINGO!

youhateplanes said...

There is a Mcdonalds within walking distance of the one that was planned. I wonder why the franchise didn't step in with regard to market saturation instead of the plan being rejected on another basis.

leesamaria said...

i am so fucking glad you said everything you did. it's true! people can't handle it = silly/ brainwashed by mcdonalds lol.

you want another maccas close to the city you fat ass? there are already 2 in the city. you want your big mac, well then go there! we do NOT need another maccas. do we need more housing closer to the city? yes please!

please tell me they did not actually approve the mcdonalds

sandmonkey said...

"How can people be attracted to the inner city if all they get is a suburb of apartments."

oh man, can't wait to go to the city. gonna go to maccas!!

Irish said...

I wonder how the Tyne Square development (which was ALSO rejected for a liquor license) feels about having a McDonalds close by. Bet they love it. Bet the residents dont though.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it seems that the back half of this block is to be a 4/5-level apartment complex with commercial ground floor, about 100 apartments. That's pretty good density.

http://www.metropolonparry.com.au/

Although none of the pictures mention the Maccas next door

N. said...

Yes anon, that is the kind of density we need on the CBD fringe, and inner-city.

The campaign was cleverly executed - McDonalds approved, then, flashy TV advertising campaign for the apartments next door, I believe more than 80% actually pre-sold, THEN McDonalds construction begins.

Anonymous said...

Yeah not sure what estate agents are obliged to disclose about that, not 100% on my real estate law.

As a nearby resident, I'm glad that more apartments are going up, and looks like a cafe is going into the Metropol thing. As to the Maccas, well, I'm not directly opposite so I won't hear the extra 24-hr traffic or get the lights or smells, but I'm sure some will be a bit cheesed, particularly the eastern side of Tyne Square. However, I'm totally addicted to their hash browns so the temptation to stroll there on a weekend will be strong.

Ted said...

Maybe Maccas should build the new Footy Stadium.Job done.

Anonymous said...

This Maccas is already open for business and crankin out the McFeasts. At least the potential buyers of the new flats next door now have fair warning...

N. said...

I have been advised that the restaurant is actually 24 hours. Buyers of the apartments were told it would be closing at 9pm.

McVibrancy!

Yisikah said...

McDonalds doesnt care about you or your health, the standard of your food or your culture - thats why its opened up opposite and indigenous cafe on Beaufort st. People are becoming increasingly deluded by powerful adverts if they are going to defend this magnum that is a determent to our society. The fact is they feed people preservative packed food that is UNHEALTHY, - its cheap for a reason. Businesses that care, and are genuinely in it for the benefit of society, will have a society that know it, not need advertising, and will in the end, care what the town wants and not put MONEY before PEOPLE.

Humdillydimwit said...

I think he's calling Perth McShit, not McDonalds?

Post a Comment

Hi there. Feel free to comment, but keep this in mind:
This is a happy place, lets keep it that way, together. In this day and age of spam and idiots, I need to check every comment before it gets published. If it's now 2013, odds are I'm on a tropical beach somewhere in South East Asia, or possibly checking out some abandoned Soviet-era architecture in Eastern Europe, and maybe your comment won't appear for some time. But leave one anyway! If you have a personal message for me, I won't publish the comment, so feel free to submit it here. Thanks for checking out 6000TIMES, and have a nice day.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...