From the CEO

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”

This Charles Dickens quote from The Tale of Two Cities was rolling around in my mind as I sat through the four-hour State Budget lock up this morning. The Treasurer handed down “a budget for the times” in her first crack at what is a highly complex process of balancing the books and dealing with the subsequent fallout from those that didn’t get what they wanted.

Comparatively speaking, WA is flushed with cash with a whopping $3.2 billion surplus in 2023-2024 – the best set of books in the country. Infrastructure is the clear winner with an eye-watering $42.4 billion investment over the next four years, dampening any hopes that our residential construction workforce might claw back some capacity anytime soon.

First home buyers are winners with the first home-owner transfer duty exemption and concession thresholds lifted to $450,000 and $600,000 respectively. The maximum duty relief under the concession increased to $15,000. Time will tell whether or not the 5,000 buyers each year anticipated to grab the carrot take advantage of it.

The $1.1 billion investment in housing and homelessness aimed at boosting housing supply and affordability will be directed towards increasing social & affordable housing that will largely be delivered by government and the community housing sector in priority locations such as METRONET precincts.

The sugar hit incentives to free up short-stay and vacant homes for the rental market are welcome given our historically low vacancy rate however they don’t add to overall supply.  

In our media statement, I highlighted the fact that the private sector deliver 96% of housing in Western Australia and that industry must be supported to continue to do the heavy lifting in increasing supply if we have any chance of closing the gap of 30,000 over the next five years. Our Pre-Budget Submission gave plenty of opportunity to do that and we will be actively campaigning for the asks to be addressed in the lead up to the State Election.

It may be a budget for the times, but whether it’s the best or the worst of times depends on where you sit relative to the poverty line. Perth is rapidly writing it’s own Tale of Two Cities – the haves and the have nots. We need to change the narrative for our children’s sake and the time to do that is now.

UDIA WA wraps up the State Budget

UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck and Executive Director of Strategy & Policy Sarah Macaulay attended the State Budget Lockup this morning to get all the details about how the State Government is responding to the housing and skills crisis facing Western Australia.

The Treasurer handed down the key inclusions as part of the Cook Government’s first budget, stating that it was centred around five key themes:

  • Cost of living relief
  • Housing
  • Health
  • Infrastructure
  • Economic growth

While UDIA WA welcomes the focus on housing supply in the Budget, we caution that more will need to be done to make a dent in a forecast 30,000 housing shortfall over the next five years. 

To read our full wrap up of the State Budget, click here.

Award nominations open!

UDIA WA are delighted to announce that nominations for our 2024 Awards for Excellence are officially open!

Our highly regarded awards program has been running for close to 30 years in Western Australia and over that time, has recognised a plethora of iconic urban development projects that have shaped communities in Perth and the regions.

The categories that form part of the awards program have evolved in line with the industry, now spanning from high and medium density apartment and townhouse living, urban renewal, through to the more traditional residential developments in newer areas.

This year we have also taken the opportunity to expand the program even further, introducing two new categories in ‘Local Government Authority of the Year’ and ‘Team of the Year’. These new categories allow us to recognise the efforts of a broader range of excellence across our industry.

To view the newly released Nominations Kit, including descriptions of all categories available to be entered this year, click here. For more information the awards including links to start your nomination, click here.

State Referral Coordination Unit Briefing

On Monday, the UDIA WA CEO and Policy Team met with Anthony Kannis, Director General, and Jackie Kirchlechner, Planning Director – State Referral Coordination Unit, from DPLH to receive a briefing and discuss the newly formed State Referral Coordination Unit.

UDIA welcomes the engagement to date and we are enthused by the proposed coordination and conflict resolution approach and exploration of potential opportunities to expand the Unit’s remit beyond the Part 11B process in time. We look forward to continuing to work with the State Referral Coordination Unit on member issues as they arise and as they refine their role and functions within the development process to ensure improved and consistent outcomes and timeframes. Please refer to the summary below for the purpose of the State Referral Coordination Unit.

The newly established State Referral Coordination Unit (SRCU) was formed to co-ordinate State Government agency referral advice, initially to support the permanent significant development pathway established under Part 11B of the Planning and Development Act. The pathway is open to proposals above $20 million in the metro region and $5 million in the regions. Other projects may be authorised for entry into the pathway by the Premier, on the advice of the Minister. There are some application types that are not authorised to use the pathway, including but not limited to development that is in a planning control area, an improvement scheme area, or is for public works.

When an application is lodged through this pathway the SRCU will centrally manage input of State agencies and utility providers, working through conflicts and provide a ‘whole of government’ response to the applicant within 60 days. Each application is case managed by DPLH and is tailored to suit the needs of each application. To ensure timely responses, recurring meetings with the Agencies are set up. The process and timeframe associated with this service has been agreed upon by the DGs of each Agency, and a conflict resolution is in place for when agencies cannot come to an agreement.

The role and function of the SRCU is not limited by any legislation and accordingly, it is intended for its scope to broaden in the future to promote cross Government collaboration. The Unit is available to assist industry on any state significant projects such as housing or infrastructure, regardless of whether or not they seek determination under the Part 11B pathway.

Put simply, for any significant project, we can assist coordinating advice/discussions with agencies such as Western Power, Main Roads, DWER etc. and help to resolve any potentially conflicting advice to assist the project. We can customise a meeting/workshop with the relevant stakeholders, create agendas, minutes and action items according to your project goals.

Updated UDS manual now available

Western Power’s updated Underground Distribution Schemes (UDS) Manual is now available, with changes to come into effect as of 1 July 2024.

The UDS manual, now in its 12th edition, outlines new requirements for network administration, design and installation in land development and subdivision projects.

The updated edition includes key changes such as:        

  • new content for existing overhead network assets within road reserves and properties
  • updated developer responsibilities and clarifications
  • additional focus on network safety in design requirements
  • updated requirement to network reliability to advance fault location and network restoration
  • revisions to flood and water table content, and point of supply connections
  • changes to the requirements for cables near retaining walls and to service pillar locations
  • a new option to permit a developer to undertake a simple connection service subdivision where the project incorporates civil works.
  • removal of SUDL (Serviced Uncleared De-Energised Lots) option and clearance conditions further clarified
  • new UDS Structure diagram highlighting the different parties involved and their relation to each another.

The updated UDS manual is the result of significant consultation, obtained through more than 600 feedback submissions, internal workshops and industry forums.

Western Power acknowledges the valuable input from the Urban Development Institute of Australia, the Property Council of Australia, participants from the Subdivision Design Forum and other industry stakeholders.

To meet the evolving needs of WA’s main electricity network, consumersand industry, the UDS manual will continue to be updated with the latest advice and to reflect the outcomes of Western Power reviews and initiatives.

A two-month transition period until the end of June will enable customers to align with the new requirements. View a PDF of the UDS manual here.

Exclusive research report for UDIA WA members

UDIA WA are delighted to launch the latest Western Australian Market: Data and Insights report presented by and prepared exclusively for our members.

This latest Insights report highlights the significant momentum in the WA housing market with median house pricing for Greater Perth growing by a national leading growth rate of 19% (to $707,000) over the 12 months to March, which is up an eyewatering 60% from March 2020’s pre-pandemic level.

The report provides a treasure trove of housing market data and insights including interesting home purchaser insights, as well geographically defined volumes of property listings and ‘hard leads’ for different types of residential products.

You can access this latest report here

New Speaker for Breakfast

UDIA WA is pleased to announce Lucy Shea, Partner at Clayton Utz, has been added to the panel discussion at our upcoming May Breakfast on 28 May.

Lucy Shea is an expert in environmental and sustainable development law, specialising in project approvals and regulation in Western Australia. Lucy’s expertise in this field will offer valuable insights for those navigating this complex regulatory landscape, including an understanding of the potential risks and opportunities associated with reforms at the State and Federal level.

Lucy joins our fantastic line up of speakers at this event, where you will hear first-hand:

  • A progress report on the implementation of the recommendations from the Independent Review of WA Environmental Approvals, Process and Procedures
  • The State-based changes that will have the biggest impact on timeframes for developers and when you will see the benefits
  • The status of regional planning and a strategic approach to offsets 
  • How the integration between planning & environmental approvals will be tackled and when
  • The benefits and the concerns around the Federal Government’s Nature Positive Reform of the EPBC Act

Register here to join us for this critical conversation around ensuring balance is struck between facilitating housing supply and enhanced environmental outcomes.

Our thanks go to Event Sponsors Mirvac and Western Environmental as well as Industry Partner DevelopmentWA for supporting this event.

Land Report this weekend

This weekend the Land Report will once again feature in The West Australian, which utilises exclusive land data from UDIA WA’s Urban Development Index as well as key insights and updates from UDIA WA and our members.

Keep an eye out for the publication in Saturday’s paper and we will share links to the online edition next week.

RBA holds cash rate

On Tuesday the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Board opted to retain the current cash rate target at its current rate of 4.35% following a slower than expected fall in inflation.

In a statement following the decision the RBA said inflation continues to moderate but is declining more slowly than expected with CPI growing 3.6% over the year to the March quarter, down from 4.1% over the year to December.

“Higher interest rates have been working to bring aggregate demand and supply somewhat closer towards balance. But the data indicate continuing excess demand in the economy, coupled with strong domestic cost pressures, both for labour and non-labour inputs,” the statement said.

Looking to the future the statement said that returning inflation to target is unlikely to be smooth.

“The central forecasts, based on the assumption that the cash rate follows market expectations, are for inflation to return to the target range of 2–3 per cent in the second half of 2025, and to the midpoint in 2026. In the near term, inflation is forecast to be higher because of the recent rise in domestic petrol prices, and higher than expected services price inflation, which is now forecast to decline more slowly over the rest of the year. Inflation is, however, expected to decline over 2025 and 2026.”

The statement finished by stating the priority is to return inflation to target within a reasonable timeframe, consistent the RBA’s mandate for price stability and full employment.

“The Board needs to be confident that inflation is moving sustainably towards the target range. To date, medium-term inflation expectations have been consistent with the inflation target and it is important that this remains the case,” the statement said.

Call for nominations: Diversity & Inclusion working group

UDIA WA is establishing a Diversity and Inclusion Working Group that will report directly to the UDIA WA Education, Connection & Excellence Strategic Committee and provide advice and oversight of the Institute’s performance in relation to diversity and inclusion.  The Group will be appointed for a 20-month term, commencing in May 2024 and ending in December 2025.

Overall, the group will provide a forum for discussion of diversity and inclusion related issues within the organisation and more broadly in the urban development industry, as well as provide advice in relation to UDIA WA policy, performance and activities in relation to diversity and inclusion.

If you are interested in nominating for this group, please follow the link here to the nomination form and more detailed Terms of Reference.  Any questions about the group can be directed to UDIA WA Executive Manager Communications & Engagement Gemma Osiejak:

Join us for the CEO Sleepout

UDIA WA are pleased to share we will once again be forming a team, including our CEO Tanya Steinbeck, to participate in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout.  We’re calling for our members to support and join our cause on the night!

The event, which aims to raise vital funds and awareness to assist homelessness initiatives, takes place each year with CEOs from various organisations across WA sleeping out at Optus Stadium for a night.

UDIA WA has been involved with the event for the past few years taking a committed team of members helping to raise thousands of dollars each year and we’re looking to do the same this year.

If you would like to join the UDIA WA CEO Sleepout team, find more information here and click on ‘Join Us’ if you wish to be part of the team.  Otherwise you can also donate to the cause via the same link.