Cockburn Central is an example of a collaborative, cross government project to deliver high quality density around a new train station. It is an example of significant engagement with business, community and government to set a new benchmark for future urban infill projects.
The vision of Cockburn Central is to become a well-connected walkable community, offering the convenience of contemporary city centre living for people in Perth's rapidly expanding southern corridor.
By providing real choices in higher-density residential dwellings – with recreation, retail and commercial uses integrated with major public transport facilities – Cockburn Central has established itself as the benchmark for future urban infill projects.
Cockburn Central demonstrates what can be achieved through high-level collaboration, engagement and innovation. Almost 20 kilometres south of the Perth CBD, Cockburn Central is now home to 550 residents in more than 380 completed apartments, across six established complexes ranging from three to six storeys. The project is expected to ultimately house 2,000 residents across 1,100 apartments.
Once fully developed, the Town Centre will also provide a working environment for around 1,800 people. As Cockburn Central's significance as a Regional Centre grows, retail and commercial space is set to expand, from the existing 15,000sqm to 21,500sqm.
Challenges and opportunities
As one of Perth's first purpose built activity centres on a train line, Cockburn Central provided an opportunity to work across government and with business and community to build a city centre within the suburbs of Cockburn.
With planning underway since the early 1990s, high-level and long-term inter-agency cooperation and commitment was required. A Steering Committee assisted in fast-tracking decision-making across government agencies. Steering Committee representatives included the Western Australian Planning Commission, the City of Cockburn, Public Transport Authority and DevelopmentWA.
Input from the community was also vital so that the planning for the Town Centre reflected the values and aspirations of local people. We worked with the Steering Committee Partners to engage with the local community.
Between October 2001 and February 2002, more than 35,000 people provided input as part of the initial structure plan. The consultation process addressed issues including transport, safety and security, environment, culture, employment and business.
Engagement included open days, focus groups, questionnaires, media articles and advertising, supported by project-specific website, Facebook page, regular newsletter, telephone information / feedback line.
The Cockburn Central development team worked closely with the community as well as the business sector to create the commercial space. Business opportunities were identified from potential tenants, owner-occupiers and investors. All enquiries – via telephone, web, email and in person – were recorded on a comprehensive database. This innovative database has been important to the success of Cockburn Central. It is an excellent resource for developers, giving them the capacity to contact genuine, interested proponents and purpose-design to their requirements, with a guaranteed end tenant or purchaser.
Outcomes and benefits
Integration between the new railway infrastructure and the Town Centre was achieved from the outset with the support of the Public Transport Authority. At the structure planning level – with relationships between the station, bus terminus, parking facilities and Town Square maximised and at the detailed construction level, with the tying in of correct levels, lot boundaries and finishes between the many and varied construction projects.
The Town Centre was anchored by the major transit interchange (the train and bus interchange) and all Town Centre levels were set out from this point. This puts the station's 'front door' at the level of the Town Square – strongly linking the station, drop off, main streets and the new town square.
Redevelopment of the Town Square generated a new round of engagement with stakeholders and the community in the 12 months leading to its official opening in January 2013.
Traditional and online communications supported by 'on the ground' community engagement brought the Town Square to life. Some of the initiatives implemented as a result of this engagement included a refurbishment of the Square, new landscaping, central water feature, and 'pop-up' café in a portable shipping container to make the Square a more attractive, functional place to be, with a strong sense of place.
The objective to make Cockburn Central an active and connected town centre providing a choice of lifestyle, recreation, employment and commercial activity has been realised. Our commitment to the vision of a lively village atmosphere in and around the Town Square is ongoing.
To achieve all the ambitious objectives for this project, DevelopmentWA worked cooperatively with key stakeholders including WAPC, PTA, City of Cockburn, individual developers and the community.
As one of the first Activity Centres in Perth's middle ring suburbs, lessons from this project, including the innovative land sales process, effective design review process and place-management program, are transferrable to our other Activity Centre projects, including Mandurah, Claremont and Murdoch.