WA ‘falling behind’ on infill targets

The West Australian

Helen Shield

13 July 2016

 

The State Government is failing to create an environment in which its 47 per cent housing infill aspirations can be met, industry experts say.

Despite debate about assumptions underpinning #designperth, a report by the Property Council of Australia, the Australian Greens, Curtin University and architects CODA, one of the authors, CODA director Kieran Wong says the Government has fallen behind its 47 per cent infill goal.

The target, set to cater for an anticipated 3.5 million Perth residents by 2031, is lower than infill targets set by other State governments and the actual rate of infill was closer to 30 per cent, he said.

For the Government to achieve its goal, which was never going to threaten greenfield housing development, the rate of infill needed to rise to 60 per cent, Mr Wong said.

“It’s not an either or argument,” Mr Wong said, referring to an Urban Development Institute of Australia attack on #designperth. “I’m not advocating that we don’t need to do greenfield development. There needs to be a balance but the balance (right now) needs to be more heavily weighted to infill.”

Think tanks, interest groups and ministerial reviews have identified a need for a whole of government approach to curbing Perth’s sprawl and providing affordable housing, citing the need for a co-ordinated approach to transport, local government planning schemes and identifying suitable infill housing sites.

Mr Wong said the Urbis figures relied on by UDIA to argue that taxpayers do not pay for infrastructure costs associated with greenfield developments demonstrated that Perth developers paid the least for greenfield infrastructure compared with those in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

“The Urbis report states clearly that State Government infrastructure costs are excluded from its assessment,” Mr Wong said. The Urbis report found greenfield developer returns were highest in Perth and the National Housing Supply Council of 2011 queried the sample sizes, which led to Urbis concluding infill was more expensive that greenfield development.

“To be clear — the Government is footing the bill for infrastructure provision,” Mr Wong said.

However, he said, the backlash experienced by some local government areas attempting to embrace infill and increase density, demonstrated the need for the Government to better communicate its vision and show stronger leadership.

“There’s too much focus on height and setback,” he said. “The focus should be on design and amenity.

“People get freaked out about height at the expense of quality.

“There are plenty of places with crappy five-storey developments compared with (potentially brilliantly designed) 20-storey developments.”

In recent weeks:

The Property Council and Master Builders WA have, separately, called out “inconsistent local councils” for planning failures and costly delays.

The Property Council has started talking to local business networks to point out higher trade and revenue spin-offs from infill.

The Greens, Property Council, Curtin University and CODA have released #designperth, a strategic blueprint to address urban sprawl and save on infrastructure spending.

A ministerial review of LandCorp urged it to redouble its efforts to assemble appropriate sites for residential infill.

The Committee for Perth, with motoring lobby group RAC, has been fine-tuning a comprehensive road, public transport and active transport plan for Perth to reduce congestion. Chief executive Marion Fulker is also working on a pitch to Perth residents to reconsider hysteria around high-rise developments, Densifying the Suburbs: High Rise and High Emotions. “I don’t think we should compromise quality of life just because we are living vertically,” Ms Fulker said.

Strata Community Australia WA, UDIA and the Property Council stepped up pressure on Lands Minister Terry Redman for fast tracked strata title reform.