As our cities grow and densify, urban vegetation is in decline. The loss of tree canopy coverage is a highly visible indication of this process and is often a source of contention between developers and local community. Established low-density suburbs are particularly vulnerable to tree canopy loss as a result of fragmented land ownership, ad hoc subdivision, inadequate planning considerations and lack of policy mechanisms to protect trees.


The benefits of incorporating trees and greenspace more broadly in urban environments are widely recognised, including urban heat stress mitigation, enhanced biodiversity value, public amenity and improved property values to name a few. Despite this, the protection of existing trees and provision of adequate space for new trees are often lacking in new land developments, especially infill projects.

WGV is a two-hectare medium density residential development near Fremantle by the Western Australian State Government land developer LandCorp. Located on a former school site, the project will eventually comprise around 100 dwellings and be home for approximately 250 people. As of mid-2018, the project is 60% built out, incorporating both single residential houses and apartments. WGV demonstrates design excellence on a number of levels by including diversity of housing types, climate sensitive design considerations, as well as renewable energy and sustainable water management features.

WGV also presents a valuable case study in creative urban greening.

Key initiatives include:

  • An urban tree canopy target of 30% to match predevelopment levels.
  • Novel mechanisms for the inclusion of trees on private lots.

  • The transformation of a large unsightly drainage sump into a landscaped winter wet depression with greatly enhanced environmental and amenity values.
  • A range of onsite stormwater infiltration initiatives to ensure all stormwater is infiltrated locally.
  • The provision of a community bore supplying all lots with locally sourced groundwater for irrigation, based on local recharge.
  • A ‘Waterwise Development Exemplar’ program to showcase achievements via knowledge sharing to industry, government and the community.


This address will share learnings from the WGV project and highlight opportunities for greater application of the ideas tested, including how community participation and engagement has contributed to the project’s success.