Bassendean Enquiry by Design

The State Government determined that Bassendean would receive $5.5 million to upgrade the Bassendean Station

The Issue

The State Government determined that Bassendean would receive $5.5 million to upgrade the Bassendean Station as part of the ‘Building Better Train Stations Program’. This presented an opportunity for urban renewal. To achieve this, the challenges of station design, station precinct and revitalisation of the Main Street and town centre sites needed to be examined holistically rather than in isolation. The aim was to create a more liveable neighbourhood.

The Methodology

To focus on urban renewal, the Department of Planning and Infrastructure, Town of Bassendean, WA Government Railways and Main Roads WA agreed to work together on an Enquiry-by-Design Workshop process. While Enquiry-by-Design has always utilised community input, it was determined in this instance to engage the broader community in the decision making process, incorporating the methodology of a Consensus Forum.

Enquiry-By-Design / Consensus Forum Phase 1, November 2001

Desired Outcomes

  • A set of station design centre scenarios, detailed option plans, and design rationales
  • A consensus decision made by the community, together with the Council, on a preferred station precinct ‘structure’ and station access arrangement
  • Greater understanding and ownership of the outcomes by the community and other key stakeholders

Description of Enquiry by Design process
Enquiry-By-Design is an interactive process over several days (often 3) that seeks win-win solutions, using urban renewal best practice principles and design. It incorporates the values and feedback of the community stakeholders into evolving plans created by a multi disciplinary team of technical experts. Usually, its findings are non binding.

Description of Community Consensus Forum
A Consensus Forum involves a representative group of people consisting of the key stakeholders, a random sample of residents and those who self nominate. Participants are informed of the issues from the varying points of view, then participate in small group dialogue with others of diverse views. Using a variety of techniques, participants search for common ground or consensus. The findings of the forum are influential in the decision making process.


  • Each of the key community and industry stakeholder groups from the Bassendean area was invited to send representatives.
  • A large random sample of residents from the Bassendean catchment area received invitations to attend.
  • Advertisements were put in the local newspapers for interested participants
  • All Council members participated, as did representatives from WA Government Railways, Main Roads WA and the Dept. for Planning and Infrastructure.
  • There were approximately 80 representatives: 40 stakeholder representatives, including a technical team, 20 representatives from the random sample and 20 from the community advertisements.

Consultation Process

Day 1


  • To brief participants about the enquiry by-design process
  • To facilitate community input


  • Community participants and multidisciplinary technical team


  • Presentations on key planning issues
  • Community dialogue focussed on three key questions:
    • What do you see as the major planning problems in the Bassendean Town Centre?
    • What would you like to see changed in the Bassendean Town Centre?
    • Why is the train station important and what would you like to see changed for the station?

Day 2


  • To design strategies and options discussed on day 1


  • Multidisciplinary technical team


  • The multidisciplinary team agreed on the overall vision
  • Tasks were divided into sub groups including design of the station, identification of other town sites that could be included in the urban renewal, and an economic revitalisation strategy

Day 3


  • To complete an interim design review:
    • assisting the community to gain a broad understanding of the issues involved in the revitalisation project, including the impact of any decision on another
    • collecting views on further issues and concerns regarding each of the revitalisation precincts and development opportunity sites.


  • Community participants and multidisciplinary technical team.


  • Facilitators were allocated to each table. There was a facilitator briefing session prior to the workshop, and comprehensive instructions were made available.
  • Workshop participants were allocated to specific tables, with each stakeholder group represented at each table.
  • Maps of the precinct revitalisation options were placed on each table.
  • Focussing on one map at a time, each table was asked to think of any issue or concern. Each was plotted on the relevant map with a number where it occurred.
  • A brief description of the issue was then written up on the butcher’s paper.
  • Facilitators gave a synopsis of their table’s issues at the end of the session.
  • These issues were taken into account during the technical team’s work the following day.
  • All issues were typed up for the following evening’s community consultation session.

Day 4


  • To establish preferences for
    • Station structure – the opening or status quo for Old Perth Road
    • Station access arrangements.
  • To agree on how to proceed with the ideas for the wider town centre area.


The Council (convened separately); Community participants and multidisciplinary technical team


  • The Council was given the opportunity to veto any of the options developed. Council was asked to decide if members could live with each of the options if chosen by the community workshop. Any they could not live with, they were asked to exclude from further deliberations. The Council decided not to veto any option although several Councillors had a particular problem with one.
  • Advantages and disadvantages for each option had been developed and Council was given the opportunity to add or change this descriptive material. No changes were made.
  • The advantages and disadvantages were presented to the community workshop and were distributed to each table. Each table discussed them and made changes where necessary. These changes were discussed at the plenary.
  • The community workshop discussed and agreed upon definitions for the triple bottom line criteria:
    • economic impacts –
      – community economic viability
      – impact on businesses
    • social impacts –
      – safety
      – access
    • environmental impacts –
      – appearance
      – public amenity/integrated public transport
  • The workshop prioritised the preferred structure and access options using a Prioritisation Matrix, comparing the options against the triple bottom line criteria. This resulted in a ranked order of preferences.
  • Workshop participants were invited to return early in 2002 to further discuss urban renewal options and the design of the overpass.

Enquiry-By-Design / Consensus Forum
Phase 2, February 2002


  • To enable further comment on designs for the broader town centre sites.
  • To commence the decision making process on a preferred option for the station’s appearance.


  • Representatives from Phase 1 – community participants and the multidisciplinary technical team

Short Workshop

  • The seating, facilitation arrangements, and provision of maps outlining the precinct options were similar to Phase 1.
  • An overview was given of the Enquiry-by-Design Phase 1 outcomes, including progress on the risk management assessment.
  • The process following the decision was explained – that the preferred appearance option would form the basis of the station architect’s brief; and that Council would use the Outcomes Report as a basis for further consultation on the design of the broader sites.
  • There was discussion of the impacts and next steps needed to pursue the design options. Comments were typed and projected onto the large screen.
  • The station appearance options were pictured and discussed. Pros and cons were documented as well as additional ideas for drawing.
  • The preferred option form was explained and participants practiced filling it out. The form was a prioritisation matrix using the triple bottom line of six criteria to assess the three options.
  • Participants were asked to take a personalised form with them, to talk to family and colleagues about the preferred option, and to return the form to the Council within 10 days.
  • An independent arbiter analysed the forms and a preference was noted.
  • The participants were notified of the decision in a feedback form which documented the votes.


During phase 1 of the Enquiry-by-Design, from days 1 to 3, there was very little drop-off in participation. However, following the longer break between phase 1 and phase 2 of the Workshops, participation fell. Moreover, there was no final forum, participants only needed to return their completed prioritisation survey. (This was done at the request of some of the older participants who wanted more time to think and talk to others before they filled out their surveys). As a result, there was a further drop-off in participation.

Unfortunately, the reliability of the sample is reduced with declining participation. Hence, in any future enquiry by design consensus forum, it would be preferable if participants filled out their surveys during the last forum. Moreover, it would be preferable to minimise the time between phases of the deliberations so the energy and commitment to the process can be maintained