UDIA WA CEO workshops planning recovery priorities with Minister

UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck attended a virtual industry workshop yesterday with Minister for Planning, Rita Saffioti MLA; Parliamentary Secretary John Carey: WAPC Chairman David Caddy; and DPLH Director General Gail McGowan on how acceleration planning reform initiatives and look at how project approvals could assist in a rapid economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.

WAPC advised that they are keen to receive UDIA’s list of ‘shovel ready projects’ that are either stuck in the approvals system or funded by development contribution schemes for consideration as soon as practical.

Tanya highlighted the urgent need to enforce statutory timeframes on responses from referral agencies and the need to start spending money captured in the Metropolitan Region Improvement Fund (MRIF) among other initiatives.

The Minister was highly engaged and responsive to the ideas generated, and UDIA will be actively following up on all proposed initiatives.

Amended Strata Titles Act 1985 will take effect on May 1

UDIA WA was very pleased to get the news today that changes to Western Australia’s strata law will come into effect on May 1, 2020.

UDIA WA has engaged collaboratively with government on a consistent basis over the last couple of years in the lead up to the introduction of the legislation, with the reforms set to modernise how strata is run and managed in the State.

There are more than 325,000 strata properties in Western Australia across residential and commercial strata schemes such as apartments, townhouses and units. The reforms will enable strata owners to hold meetings remotely and vote electronically, rather than needing to meet face to face. There will be better by-laws, and the introduction of statutory duties for strata managers and council members.

Other improvements will see strata buyers receive more upfront information about the property they are looking to buy, and strata disputes managed more efficiently and at less cost through the State Administrative Tribunal.

The amended Strata Titles Act 1985 will take effect on May 1, 2020, with grace periods set for some new requirements to ensure those affected have adequate time to meet them.

For more information about the changes, visit here.

UDIA calls for Land Tax Reform

On Wednesday UDIA WA made a formal request to the state government to consider a Land Tax Rebate as part of a suite of measures we are advocating for on behalf of the development industry in order to retain jobs, support construction and sure up project delivery as the economy battles against the impacts of COVID-19.

With jobs in the property and development industry representing 15% of all employment in Western Australia, the industry can play a significant role in softening the economic blow created by the pandemic.

Land tax is an annual tax on land not used as your principal place of residence and impacts both mum and dad investors as well as the property and development industry. The estimated revenue from Land Tax in the state budget for 2019-20 is $789 million.

UDIA understands that losing revenue from land tax would be a blow to state government funds, however we believe that there are other sources of revenue that could be pulled forward to fill some of that gap and deliver on infrastructure projects at the same time.

The Metropolitan Region Improvement Fund (MRIF) holds funds sourced from collecting the Metropolitan Region Improvement Tax (MRIT).

MRIT is a special purpose tax used to finance the cost of providing land for roads, open spaces, parks and similar public facilities. It is payable in addition to land tax on property located in the metropolitan area.

There is over $450 million currently sitting in the MRIF that we are suggesting could be brought forward to fund infrastructure delivery now and provide a stimulus to the state economy.

It is this type of funding, that the government already has access to, that can be used to boost our economy now and keep people in jobs.

We will be launching our comprehensive “Roadmap to Recovery” document next week that will outline the full suite of measures that UDIA WA is advocating for on behalf of industry.

Western Power issues developer refunds

Last Friday, UDIA WA was extremely pleased to advise members that as a result of a partnership agreement signed recently between Western Power and UDIA WA regarding the high voltage subdivision pool – close to $1.5 million in refunds is being issued to developers.

As a result of a collaborative approach, 41 developer refunds dating back to 2010 are being refunded with a total value of $1.45 million. This is in addition to the $3.6m that was returned to 28 projects at the end of 2019.

The high voltage (HV) subdivision pool allows the cost of installing HV infrastructure to be shared among developers of residential subdivisions.

The pool reimburses developers who have paid for more than their share of the HV infrastructure and collects funds from developers who make use of excess capacity on that infrastructure.

Western Power is currently in the process of issuing the agreed refunds. UDIA WA will continue to work with Western Power to provide further HV Pool refunds to the land development industry moving forward.

Planning changes support COVID-19 response and recovery

Last Friday Planning Minister Rita Saffioti announced that changes to planning and development regulations had come into effect to provide for the continuation of essential public services in a State of Emergency.

Amendments to the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 provide the Minister for Planning with authority to temporarily override requirements and conditions set out in a local planning scheme, and existing conditions in planning approvals.

This could include exemptions relating to noise or amenity restrictions that guide supermarket deliveries, waste and recycling services and construction activities, and take-away and retail delivery services among other locally driven compliance requirements.

Under the amendments, the Minister for Planning can issue a notice to suppress local scheme provisions for a single council, across a specific region or across the State.

The regulations also provide for streamlined advertising and decision-making processes. In this COVID-19 crisis, where strict social distancing protocols are enforced, this provides for digital access to plans and safer means of public inspection rather than inviting community members to venture away from home and visit physical buildings.

A State of Emergency must be declared for these new regulatory provisions to have effect.

1.13 million jobs expected to be lost due to COVID-19

New research from the BankWest Curtin Economic Centre (BCEC) has estimated around 1.13 million jobs could be lost over the next 15-18 months across the country with around half (670,000) expected to occur in the next three months if trade restrictions continue.

Over 125,000 workers in WA are predicted to lose their job, with 77,000 of these workers employed in cafes and bars, tourism, hospitality and travel sub-sectors. WA’s mining sector also faces high exposure from global downturns, and job losses for this sector are expected here if the downturn continues and China is unable to reboot their economy.

Understandably, the Accommodation and Food Services sector will be hit hardest with job losses and will account for much of the immediate job losses, however the report suggests the construction industry could also see a greater impact if the longer restrictions remain in place.

The construction sector is the second biggest employer in the nation. The report expects that the overall downturn in the economy will place additional pressure on this sector, with major construction projects and residential housing likely to decline for as long as the virus presents a threat.

UDIA WA is working hard to advocate on behalf of our industry in an attempt to minimise the impacts from COVID-19. We are in the process of preparing a range of initiatives to present to the State Government to chart a roadmap to recovery both during and after the pandemic.

METRONET’s new Bayswater Station another step closer

Despite current restrictions, work in many areas is continuing which is positive to see.  A preferred tenderer has been chosen to design and build the new Bayswater Station, representing a key milestone for the state government’s METRONET project.

Evolve Bayswater Alliance (Coleman Rail) was identified as the preferred proponent to build the major METRONET project, which is set to support more than 350 jobs.

The new station will form a major transport hub linking the Midland Line to METRONET’s future Forrestfield-Airport Link and Morley-Ellenbrook Line, as well as key cycling routes.

The scope of the $253 million new Bayswater Station project includes a new station building, surrounding precinct works and the new platforms and rail infrastructure to support the Forrestfield-Airport Link and the future connection with the Morley-Ellenbrook Line.

A rail turnback required for Forrestfield-Airport Link operations will also be built west of the new train station.

The first island platform (with a track on each side) will be built while the current line and station continues operation, ensuring impacts to commuters and the local community will be minimised.

Trains will begin using the new platforms once they are completed, which will allow the old station to be removed and a second island platform to be built to accommodate the Morley-Ellenbrook Line.

Early works at Bayswater Station started last year, including works to relocate the City of Bayswater’s iconic 80-year-old Kurrajong tree to Bert Wright Park. Work is also underway to relocate the main cable route and construct additional passenger parking at Meltham and Ashfield stations for use during construction.

Preferred proponent Evolve Bayswater Alliance (Coleman Rail) has been involved in several Main Road projects such as the Ashton Street Bridge, Hamilton Street Bridge and the two new bridges over Albany Highway in Williams.

Once the Forrestfield-Airport Link opens, there will be increased service frequency during peak periods between the new Bayswater Station and Claremont Station.

Expanding Reuse Opportunities for Recycled C&D Materials – Industry Survey

UDIA WA is supporting an industry research and engagement project being undertaken by ActiveSustainability in collaboration with Foundations Research and Murdoch University on expanding reuse opportunities for recycled C&D materials.

The project is made possible through Waste Authority funding which supports projects that contribute to the waste strategy’s objectives and targets.

Currently the reuse of waste-derived products provides cost effective and environmental solutions for some WA developers, builders and contractors, however there remains excess supply of these materials that are suitable for use in many additional WA projects.

This project is focused on understanding and addressing industry concerns and impediments for the reuse of recycled construction materials in development projects.

As part of the engagement process, ActiveSustainability is requesting industry feedback to inform its research.

The information gathered through these surveys will provide valuable information and help identify opportunities for further development of C&D waste markets, all of which will be incorporated in the final project report and made available to all stakeholders.


All individual responses will be aggregated. Anonymity and full confidentiality of individual responses will be maintained.

To complete the survey, click here.

JobKeeper payment reduces rental housing cost stress

According to recent research by CoreLogic, the JobKeeper package recently passed through parliament could see around 77% of renters in Greater Perth avoiding housing affordability stress if both members of a couple were receiving the JobKeeper package each fortnight.

This figure is more than double the 32.6% of rental households that could avoid housing affordability stress if both members of a couple were only receiving the JobSeeker payment.

Housing affordability stress is a situation where households expend more than 30% of income on housing costs, such as rent.

The CoreLogic analysis does not take into account tax on the JobKeeper payment, or voluntary employer top-ups of the JobKeeper amount.

Additionally, the current social distancing measures are likely to discourage discretionary spending, which might result in a higher proportion of an income to be used in servicing rent.

Help plan around Morley Station

To assist the development of the future Morley Station, part of the METRONET Morley-Ellenbrook Line, a Morley Station Precinct Concept Master Plan is being developed in consultation with the City of Bayswater.

Fixed elements for the station include the platform location in the Tonkin Highway median, multi-deck car park location over the skatepark at Wotton Reserve and a new access road off Wotton Road. While these key elements are fixed, METRONET are seeking input into what the future should look like around Morley Station.

To have your say on what the area around Morley Station should look like, complete the survey created by METRONET here.

Metropolitan Region Scheme Amendment pre-lodgment advice

As part of the implementation of the Action Plan for Planning Reform, the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) has endorsed a pre-lodgement advice process for potential Metropolitan Region Scheme (MRS) amendments.

The process seeks to give effect to early actions outlined in the Action Plan for Planning Reform and assist with the early identification and resolution of issues.

Key outcomes include:

  • Introduction and publication of an Assessment Sheet to provide an agreed format for presenting pre-lodgement advice requests to the WAPC for information purposes.
  • Introduction and publication of a Guidance Document which provides details of the process, and the use and content of the Assessment Sheet.
  • Preparation of pre-lodgement referral and pre-lodgement advice letter templates.

A Guidance Document has been prepared which outlines the information requirements and process for proponents, and establishes a clear expectation regarding the manner and form of the pre-lodgement advice.

Proponents are advised to familiarise themselves with the Guidance Document should pre-lodgement advice be sought.

The guidance document and process flowchart are available here.

The new process is now in effect and will be reviewed after 12 months, with consideration given to applying the process to potential Peel Region Scheme and Greater Bunbury Region Scheme amendments.

Mixed results for building approvals in February  

The total value of building jobs in WA in February was $387,056,000, which was 21.2% up MOM, but 9.1% down YOY.

Western Australian dwelling approvals also fell by 2% in February, but approvals for private sector houses rose by 1%.

These stats represent life in Australia before strict social distancing measures were put in place so we are likely to see a dip in these figures in the following months.

Job Vacancies up in February  

The total number of job vacancies in Western Australia for the month of February was 27,600, which represented a 7.74% increase QOQ and a 0.4% rise YOY.

There was no notable impact of the COVID-19 virus on job vacancies for February 2020. The reference period for job vacancies fell at a point where there was only a relatively low number of confirmed COVID-19 cases within Australia and before it was declared a global pandemic.

Retail Trade on the rise

Retail turnover in Western Australia sat at $2.7 billion in February, which was 10.7% of national turnover ($25.4 billion) and was 6.6% up YoY.

Interestingly to note online retail turnover contributed 6.6 per cent to total retail turnover in original terms in February 2020, in comparison to February 2019, when online retail turnover contributed 5.6 per cent to total retail.

The rise in online retail spending and the increase from one year ago could be a result of COVID-19 prompting a surge in spending on basic necessities in supermarkets and department stores.

Need Fill? Surplus sand available

In the process of constructing the Roe Highway/Kalamunda Road grade separation project, Georgiou have obtained a large amount of surplus fill material, which would be ideal for consultants, planners, developers and other stakeholders that may have a use for this material for their projects.

The fill material can be obtained by getting in touch with Georgiou direct who can provide more information about the specific details. Depending on yours and the project’s requirements (timing, quality and the amount required), the fill may be free of charge or a fee may apply.

For further information or to make an enquiry about the fill material, contact Jason Fletcher on jason.fletcher@georgiou.com.au.

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 policy@udiawa.com.au

  • Waste Reform consultation papers (here). Submissions close 15 July 2020:
    • Closing the loop: Waste reforms for a circular economy
    • Review of the waste levy