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A passenger train network linking Perth to southern Western Australia is among concepts created by researchers to help spread Australia's population over the coming decades.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures forecast Perth to be home to six million people by 2060 and the national population to double to 53 million by 2101.
It is against this backdrop that the University of WA's Australian Urban Design Research Centre has asked the public where it thinks future populations should live.
Co-director Julian Bolleter said congestion and affordability issues could push more people from capital cities to regional cities and towns in the next 50 to 100 years.
"This survey is about providing the kind of data about where people aspire to live, so planners can deliver proposals relating to community sentiment," he said.
"What we know is if you keep ramming population growth into a city, liveability will drop away … and we may reach a tipping point; people will consider really seriously moving to the regions because capital cities are going to be hard work.
"Meantime, we have cities and towns in regions crying out for growth; what we need to do is connect capital cities to regional centres with efficient rail networks and NBN."
Mr Bolleter said Australia was in desperate need of a national plan to deal with population growth, something for which the Planning Institute of Australia was lobbying.
"We are sleepwalking in some respects in how we deal with population growth at a national scale," he said.
"We desperately need a plan."
Asking the community for feedback on future locations would ensure that plan was tailored to public desires, he added.
Satellite cities orbiting the capitalsOne of the eight concepts released in the survey had regional rail cities linked to the capitals and able to home about 750,000 people.
It included a rail link between Perth, Bunbury, Manjimup, Albany and Esperance.
"So, people can live and work in towns and cities on the coast, such as Esperance, and have a great connection back to the capital city for jobs and other amenities," Mr Bolleter said.
Julian Bolleter says Australia desperately needs a national plan to deal with population growth.(Supplied)Other concepts included secondary capital cities, satellite cities around state capitals, inland cities and a cities dotted across northern Australia to capitalise on their proximity to Asia.
"Regional satellite cities which orbit the capital cities keep access to the capital but have affordable housing," Mr Bolleter said.
"Or could we build cosmopolitan cities in the north which embrace Asia?"
He said the coronavirus pandemic had also shown many people they could work efficiently remotely.
"It has made them much more interested in living in the region. Do you need the hassle and inconvenience of city life?
"Regional offers much more access to forest and coastal amenity but you can still have access to work with communication."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au