Planning Minister provides approval to end years of uncertainty

On Monday afternoon Planning Minister Rita Saffioti provided approval for Finbar’s Civic Heart development, set to be built on the City of South Perth’s flagship site, known as the Civic Triangle.

In delivering the approval Minister Saffioti said the development would end years of uncertainty and finally deliver on the vision for the South Perth area.

The planning minister used legislative powers in October last year to ‘call-in’ the development application due to the significance of the site.

The call-in followed years of planning for the site by the City of South Perth and the developer, including assessment of the proposal through a design review panel and support for the proposal through the City of South Perth’s Responsible Authority Report.

However, the proposal was ultimately refused by the Metropolitan Central Joint Development Assessment Panel in October last year.

The final approval allows for construction of two residential towers up to 39 and 22 storeys high. This will include 309 residential dwellings, a community precinct at ground level and adaptive reuse of the heritage police station and post office buildings.

UDIA would like to congratulate Minister Saffioti on progressing this development that will have a big impact on our future economy and the community of South Perth.

Introducing the HV Pool Governance Committee

Following on from the significant milestone of executing a new HV Pool Agreement between UDIA WA and Western Power, the Governance Committee members have now been confirmed.

With a membership of four, representing UDIA are UDIA WA Vice President and Infrastructure Committee Chair, Jeremy Cordina and UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck. From Western Power, the members are Gino Giudice, Customer Service Manager and Jacqui Hall, Head of Finance, Treasury and Risk.

The committee met informally on Wednesday and agreed to meet quarterly, with the first official meeting to be held in March.

Setting the policy priorities for 2020

UDIA WA Council met on Wednesday for a two-hour strategy session to identify and prioritise policy recommendations for government over the next 12 months and in the lead up to the State Election in March 2021.

The team are currently working through the detailed document which will be released at the Developers Conference in Bunker Bay in three weeks. The priorities will set the direction and focus for the Council and committees throughout the year.

Steering key reform of State land development function

A Steering Committee comprised of heads of relevant agencies has been established and is providing strategic advice and guidance to support the implementation of the Housing Authority reform with the land development and related commercial functions to be merged with DevelopmentWA.

Due to the complexity of the transaction, all parties are working together to ensure appropriate consideration and due diligence are undertaken to obtain the right outcome for all involved.

A Cabinet Submission is being prepared by the Steering Committee, to be presented to Cabinet in March 2020. Briefings for joint venture partners and other key stakeholders are being held to update impacted members on the progress of the transfer.

RBA holds cash rate

At its first meeting of 2020 the Reserve Bank of Australia chose to keep the official cash rate at 0.75% for another month.

In a statement following the decision, RBA Governor Philip Lowe said the outlook for the global economy remained reasonable, despite the continued uncertainty surrounding the trade war between USA and China and the potential impacts of the Coronavirus, citing that it was too early to determine how long the impact of this might be.

Mr Lowe said the aim was for the Australian economy to grow by 2.75% this year and 3% next year although highlighted the bushfires and Coronavirus would have impacts on short term domestic growth.

Mr Lowe ended his speech by acknowledging that rates had already been reduced to a very low level and recognised the long and variable lags in the transmission of monetary policy. He said it would be reasonable to expect that an extended period of low interest rates will be required in Australia to reach full employment and achieve the inflation target.

To read Philip Lowe’s speech in full, click here.

With so many global events potentially impacting the Australian economy, UDIA WA is looking forward to hearing from global economist Jonathan Pain when he presents on Politics & The Economy at the first UDIA Industry Luncheon of 2020 on Friday February 14.

Registrations for this event close on Friday February 7 so click here to register before it is too late or to hear Jonathan Pain’s thoughts when he spoke to UDIA WA in December last year, click here.

UDIA WA CEO to step out for The Big Issue

From 10am on Friday February 7 at 4 Wexford Street, Subiaco, UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck will be selling The Big Issue as part of vendor week.

For the second year running Tanya will be taking part in the CEO Selling initiative which aims to promote and support homeless and disadvantaged people in our community who are earning a meaningful income.

Each issue costs $9 and proceeds from Tanya’s sales will be used to support the vendor support office in Western Australia. Tanya will be fully equipped to be able to accept credit card payments via tap-and-go and the mobile app Beem it.

For more information about The Big Issue and the CEO Selling initiative, click here.

James Hardie Member Briefing

James Hardie hosted the first UDIA Member Briefing for 2020 on Wednesday night, providing information for members about Compact Housing: Australia’s Journey & Perth’s Future.

In the last 10 years Australia’s housing industry has been grappling with the key issues of density and affordability. An important solution to both of these huge challenges is around housing diversity and how that can be delivered to provide the best outcome for Australians in and around our capital cities. A key subset of a more diverse housing sector is Compact Housing or Micro Lots.

James Hardie Key Account Manager – WA Anthony Druker took members through case studies of some of the most significant small lot developments from around the country and focused on the approach each had used and the learnings from each.

The presentation discussed why harnessing alternative construction methods and modern materials is critical to the process of delivering these building typologies and looked at the new capability around Compact Housing that has been emerging in Perth over the last 2 years as well as the challenges and opportunities we will have moving forward.

Bob Hawke College opens to inspire next generation

On Sunday, UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck attended the official opening of the brand-new Bob Hawke College in Subiaco.

Monday morning saw more than 250 students walk through the doors of the college to form the inaugural class of the new education institution that is set to form a key part of the vibrant future for Subiaco.

For more information about the college, click here.

Mixed results for WA building approvals

The December quarter saw the number of WA building approvals for houses lift 4.4% Quarter on Quarter (QoQ) to sit at 2,894, 5.7% below figures for the same quarter the year prior.

The value of building jobs for new houses increased 5.5% QoQ to $849.97 million, but was 4.5% down Year on Year (YoY).

The total value of new residential building jobs in WA fell 13.9% QoQ and 2.8% YoY to $1.16 billion, and was 9.5% below the two-year quarterly average.

This total consisted of $1.033 billion for new construction jobs (-13.0% QoQ; -1.8% YoY); and $127.79 for alterations and additions (including conversions) (-20.8% QoQ; -10.2% YoY).

WA projects nominated for UDIA National Awards

Earlier this week, UDIA National officially announced the finalists for the 2020 UDIA Wingate National Awards for Excellence with the winners set to be announced at the gala dinner on the final night of UDIA National Congress.

Among the finalists were a host of Western Australian-based projects that picked up gongs at the UDIA WA Awards for Excellence in September 2019.

UDIA WA would like to congratulate all the finalists for the UDIA National awards, especially those from Western Australia and wish them the best of luck come March.

To see the full list of finalists, click here or to register to attend the National Congress, click here.

We value your feedback!

UDIA is currently working on several submissions on behalf of members. We encourage you to forward any feedback on these items to

  • Draft Position Statement: Special Entertainment Precincts (here). Submissions close February 14, 2020.
  • EPBC Act Review Discussion Paper (here). Submissions close February 14, 2020.
  • Community Titles Discussion Paper (here). Submissions close February 28, 2020.

UDIA National identifies the need for approvals to continue to rise

Tentative signs that housing approvals have stabilised are encouraging but need to be balanced against the wide gaps that still exist between supply and demand, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) National.

New housing approval data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Monday suggests the long slide in approvals may be over.

However, approvals remain well below the peak of two years ago and out of synch with overall demand.

To read UDIA National Executive Director Connie Kirk’s thoughts on this issue, click here.

Local governments need to do more to create smarter cities

A new report out of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) found that local governments have a critical role to play if Australia is to manage vexing societal challenges from climate change to accessing economic opportunities.

The report Smart Cities Down Under: Performance of Australian Local Government Areas evaluated 180 local government areas (LGA) against the ‘Smart City Assessment Model’ criteria that measures smart city outcomes and provides a snapshot of the smart city performance of the local government areas.

The report categorised the LGAs into three performance categories: leading, following and developing and identified that all areas in the leading category were contained within capital city metropolitan areas.

Western Australia had the second highest number of LGAs in the leading category with 14. Only New South Wales had more LGAs in the leading category with 20.

Despite the strong showing for WA, the report identified areas for LGAs across the country to do better with the biggest recommendation being to look at the performance of LGAs in regional Australia. The report suggests the need for a national smart city strategy and guidelines to help make these localities and communities smarter.

The report finished by showcasing that local governments do not function well in isolation and pointed out that any local government is only as strong as the other local governments within its vicinity and they must interact to share and access public resources.

An article summarising the report highlighted the following:

“The good news in our report is that our leading cities fare well. The not-so-good news is that the other local governments need to be brought along on a transformation journey. No city is an island, and no country can treat cities as independent elements.

“Australia, we believe, should consolidate its local governance and planning culture to lead the change.”

For more information, click here.

Living concrete has potential to reproduce

Researchers in the US have created a new type of concrete that has the potential to heal its own cracks and absorb carbon dioxide.

The new concrete, dubbed “A Frankenstein Material” is essentially made by photosynthetic microbes that allows it to reproduce and emits a green colour that fades as the material dries out.

Minerals in the new material are deposited not by chemistry but by cyanobacteria, a common class of microbes that capture energy through photosynthesis. The photosynthetic process absorbs carbon dioxide.

There are a number of practical concerns still to be addressed including strength, bacterial resistance to dehydration and the ability of the material to be easily flat-packed and assembled but there is potential for the material to be used in a variety of remote landscapes, including within Australia.

For more information about the new concrete, click here.

EOI issued for next stage of Subi East Redevelopment

Earlier this week, the state government launched an expression of interest process to seek qualified contractors for the demolition and remediation of the Princess Margaret Hospital site.

Contractors for the major works will be evaluated against a range of criteria including demolition methodology, comparable experience and project understanding, with shortlisted proponents undertaking further due diligence and review of the site.

The site includes heritage listed or significant buildings that will be preserved, including Godfrey House and the Former Multi-Faith Chapel.

The successful contractor is expected to be announced by mid-year along with a works program, including demolition methodology and construction and safety management plans.

Site Security Update

The statistics for January 2020 showcased the expected increase in reported crimes following the return of industry after the Christmas and New Year break.

January saw 17 burglaries, 25 stealing, 10 damage, 4 graffiti and 10 illegal rubbish dumping reports for the month. To view the full statistics, click here.

Make 2020 the year you reduce the impact of crime and illegal rubbish dumping within the building and construction industry by ensuring you report all incidents to identify high-risk areas.

For more information, see here.