Thirty years of Joondalup, Perth’s satellite city success story

As seen in the Source link, written by on 2021-07-22 08:24:23

For Bella Pihema and James Kewley, Perth’s northern satellite city has just about everything they need.

The pair both grew up around Joondalup and now live right near its heart.

“There’s so much here – we have such big stores, and everything is very close together, like it is in the city,” Ms Pihema said.

That ease of access was no accident.

On the banks of Lake Joondalup, about 30 kilometres north of Perth’s CBD, Joondalup’s town centre was master-planned from the ground up.

An aerial shot of a shopping centre under construction
The site of the Lakeside Joondalup Shopping Centre and Joondalup train station prior to construction in July 1992.(

Supplied: State Library of WA, courtesy of Aerial Surveys Australia


It’s just passed 30 years since the city centre was officially opened in June 1991.

So, how is the satellite city of the north holding up?

The seeds for Joondalup as a major community hub were planted around 1955 – that’s when the first proper plan for the Perth metropolitan area was drawn up. 

University of Western Australia urban geographer Paul Maginn said even then, planners had tipped a huge population surge in Perth’s north-west.

Planning papers laid out on a table
Joondalup was first planned in the 1955 Plan for the Metropolitan Region, Perth and Fremantle document.(

ABC News: Jessica Warriner


“The plan was basically, how can we manage that growth better?” he said.

Come 1970, the corridor plan was released, designing viable alternatives to the Perth CBD, including Armadale, Midland, Rockingham and Joondalup.

While the majority of hubs were already established, Joondalup had to be planned from scratch.

An older woman standing under a pink umbrella
Regina Dixon moved to the Joondalup area in the late 1980s.(

ABC News: Jessica Warriner


Things looked very different when Edgewater local Regina Dixon moved there in the late 1980s.

“They said it was going to be a new city, something like that,” she said.

“All where the shopping centre is, it was just grass.”

‘The Parramatta of Perth’

That’s what one of Joondalup’s original planners thought when his firm won the bid to design the satellite city.

“Joondalup was just bush, with the City of Wanneroo council chambers sitting in the middle, with a tiny little road going to it,” Hames Sharley founder Bill Hames said.

Aerial photo showing the new council building and access roads surrounded by undeveloped bushland near Lake Joondalup.
A 1985 photo of the area later known as Joondalup, showing the new council building and access roads surrounded by undeveloped bushland near Lake Joondalup.(

Supplied: State Library of WA, courtesy of Aerial Surveys Australia


“How the hell they went there I’m not sure, but that’s another story.

“The Mitchell Freeway didn’t get to it, and definitely the rail didn’t get to it.”

For the architect and urban designer, it was time to get to work.

An older man smiles for a photo
Bill Hames was one of the original planners of Joondalup.(

ABC News: Jessica Warriner


“It’s a bit frightening, because you’re going to put things on to paper that are going to become reality,” he said.

“When you sort of make a stroke like this on a piece of paper, and you colloquially call it the Grand Boulevard … it’s actually called the Grand Boulevard today.”

A photo of a street sign
Grand Boulevard is one of Joondalup’s main thoroughfares.(

ABC News: Jessica Warriner


Mr Hames said in the 1980s, he could see a big future for the satellite city, likening it to the major hub of Parramatta, around 25 kilometres west of Sydney.

“I used to call Joondalup the Parramatta of Perth,” he said. “I still think it’s the Parramatta of Perth.”

“And look what’s happening in Parramatta – now they’re building 50-storey buildings.”

What makes a good satellite city?

Dr Maginn said satellite cities were a particularly common solution to managing growth in the mid 20th century.

But along with numerous other factors at play — population flow, good house prices, attractive spaces — a diverse employment base is needed to keep a new town ticking along.

A university professor leaning over his desk
UWA planner Paul Maginn said there was always a huge population surge tipped for Perth’s north-west.(

ABC News: Jessica Warriner


Dr Maginn pointed to the satellite city of Elizabeth, to the north of Adelaide.

“It was a success until the car industry folded and left,” he said.

“Wider global processes, economic transformation and change has put a city like Elizabeth under immense pressure.

“Joondalup on the other hand is really dominated by retail and allied employment – there’s public administration, the university’s there, the hospital’s there.”

Shopping centre domination

Thirty years since the city centre opening, Dr Maginn said if success was measured by housing and population growth, Joondalup had ticked those boxes.

“It’s basically built on land that was agricultural and forests — if you think that you’ve gone from that to what it is today, I think that’s a pretty major success story,” he said.

And more people are expected to live and work in the area.

A railway extension that will see the last stop pushed to Yanchep, 30 kilometres north of Joondalup, means people living along the city’s north-west coast have even less reason to commute into Perth.

A wide stretch of cleared earth stretches across a green field of scrub land
Construction has begun on the Yanchep rail extension, servicing the fast-growing communities along Perth’s north-west coast.(

ABC News: Gian De Poloni


Now, attention has turned to making the Joondalup city centre more vibrant.

Some street-facing shop owners the ABC spoke to said they were concerned about the lack of people in the area, while both Ms Pihema and Mr Kewley wanted to see more to get the city’s heart beating.

“Activation of the city centre would be good, get the community more involved in things,” Ms Pihema said.

A street exterior of a shopping centre
Lakeside Joondalup Shopping Centre was up until recently Perth’s biggest shopping mall.(

ABC News: Jessica Warriner


Dr Maginn said the dominance of the shopping centre was very clear in Joondalup.

“Joondalup was planned to have [a city centre], and there is one there, but it’s rendered invisible – it’s overshadowed basically,” he said.

“The shopping centre is the de-facto town centre.”

Activating the heart

Getting people to step outside the boundaries of what was up until recently WA’s biggest shopping centre is a now key focus for the satellite city.

A drone shot of a residential establishment on the banks of a river
Joondalup’s CBD 30 years later in July 2021.(

ABC News


“If you walked over to Lakeside Shopping Centre right now, I bet you it’s as busy as Murray Street, Hay Street Mall,” said Mayor Albert Jacob.

“We don’t want to take away from that success, they’re great partners of ours, but we want to fray the edges of the shopping centre, blend the general CBD in with it a bit better.”

A headshot of a male mayor in the council chambers
Joondalup Mayor Albert Jacob said he wants the northern Perth city to have its own skyline.(

ABC News: Jessica Warriner


The mayor wants to see more business come to town, pushing local employment up, and growing the satellite city’s skyline.

“There are no height limits in the Joondalup CBD,” Mr Jacob said.

“We’re setting out to be the CBD of the northern corridor – we’ve come a long way, but there’s still a long way to go.”

1 Comment

  • certainly like your website however you have to test the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very bothersome to tell the truth then again I?¦ll definitely come back again.

Leave a Comment