Date:2.09 PM TUESDAY, 8 April 1997
Member:Kierath, Mr Graham
Page:1203 / 3


Professor Gordon Stephenson

MR KIERATH (Riverton - Minister for Planning) [2.09 pm]: I rise to make a brief ministerial statement on the contribution made by the late Professor Gordon Stephenson to this State.

Professor Stephenson helped make Perth the city it is today. His vision was behind the metropolitan region scheme, the planning blueprint which has guided the growth of the metropolitan region since 1963. The scheme has provided for thousands of hectares of regional parkland and a functional transport network. Professor Stephenson also prepared plans for Perth, and the Midland and Joondalup regional centres.

The English-born Stephenson had a long career in architecture and town planning and was on the staff of the University of Liverpool before coming to Western Australia. He arrived in Perth in January 1953, initially for three months, as a consultant to the State Government to assist with the preparation of a plan for the metropolitan area of Perth and Fremantle. With Alistair Hepburn, he set about persuading the Government that a small professional team was required and a regional planning office was established at the Public Works Department, where Stephenson and Hepburn shared a room.

In February 1955 the Stephenson-Hepburn team's report titled "Plan for the Perth Metropolitan Region: Perth and Fremantle" was completed. It was published by the Government in September 1955. The plan led to the establishment of the statutory metropolitan region scheme, which has been in force since 1963. The scheme's zoning and reservation of land well in advance of development has provided a high degree of certainty for planning and investment decisions. Notable were the powers reserved in the MRS for acquisition of private land for public purposes, such as regional parks and roads. Since 1963, thousands of hectares of land have been acquired for parks and recreation, making possible the creation of regional parks such as Yellagonga, Whiteman, Beeliar and Araluen, and securing public access to many of our river and ocean foreshores. Significant areas of land have been acquired for regional roads that were planned in the 1950s in anticipation of Perth's future growth.

Securing these areas was made possible through the establishment of a special fund for the WA Planning Commission to buy land for regional parks and roads. In their 1955 report Stephenson and Hepburn predicted that within 50 years Perth could have a population of 1.4 million and the State a population of 1.7 million. It predicted almost symmetrical urban growth with the Swan River as the axis and a more industrialised area south of the river.

A road system superior to nearly all other great cities was considered possible because of Perth's youth, but Stephenson warned this would need immediate action to reserve land for future needs. From that early blueprint, Perth has developed to the city we have today, and I express gratitude on behalf of the Government for the fine work done by Professor Stephenson, and my sincere condolences to his family.