From the CEO

Too little, too late.

That was the comment from the Chair of Highgate Primary School’s Board in response to the State Government’s announcement of a $12 million upgrade to the school that has been bursting at the seams for some time.

In my response to the ABC, I highlighted the cause being a lack of strategic infrastructure coordination that should be tightly integrated with the planning frameworks and population trends so that we are ahead of the game not a decade behind. The infill agenda is being hampered for many reasons, and clearly evidenced in Infrastructure WA’s Implementation Progress Report for the State Infrastructure Strategy. From a net infill rate of 43% in Perth & Peel in 2019, we fell to 29% in 2021. Ouch.

From infill to greenfields, the pain that the void of a strategic approach to infrastructure planning and coordination is causing is acute and will prolong the suffering caused by the housing crisis. In UDIA WA’s analysis of key catalyst pieces of infrastructure required to deliver the greatest dwelling yield over the next 5 to 10 years, tens of thousands of dwellings are hamstrung by the non-existent commitment to ensure basic water, sewer and power infrastructure will be there before industry can even turn a sod.

In our Pre-Budget Submission, we have done the first piece of work as part of a larger project to identify those key lead infrastructure items that are necessary in order to deliver supply that has already been factored into the State Government’s land supply figures. We’ve asked for the funding commitment in this Budget and it’s imperative that we get it.

UDIA has started doing the job that should not be ours to do. We are calling for sole accountability for a whole-of-government approach to ensuring infrastructure planning & coordination is a top priority – along with environmental approvals. An equivalent Co-ordinator General for this purpose is a good start.

Because if everyone is in charge, no one is.

And it will continue to be too little, too late.

Expansion of eligible locations for Infrastructure Development Fund

Today, Minister Saffioti and Minister Carey announced the allocation of a further $17.4m of the $80m Infrastructure Development Fund to support 22 apartment projects across Perth, as well as key worker accommodation projects in Murchison and South Headland.

While there has been no additional funding committed, UDIA WA welcomes the announcement of the expansion of eligible locations for the Targeted Apartment Rebate, beyond the central sub-region and Metronet precincts.  Now, apartment projects within one kilometre of all train stations, strategic, secondary and district activity centres, and the Bunbury CBD will be eligible to apply.

This relaxation of the locational restrictions is a step in the right direction and is part of the solution UDIA WA put to government in our 2024-25 pre-Budget Submission in December 2023.  However, this alone is unlikely to meaningfully shift the dial in facilitating medium and higher density infill at scale across Perth.

The layering of regulation and associated statutory fees and charges imposed on built form development is compounding to significantly impact project feasibilities and there is a critical need to do more to support to deliver medium and higher density homes. 

The IDF has provided some assistance for apartment projects.  However, in the current market conditions it remains extremely challenging to make unviable projects viable.  Successful projects are typically only receiving around $5,000 of the potential $10,000 per apartment through the current Fund, and despite securing this funding some projects remain stalled.  Even if developers were able to access more of the current $10,000 per dwelling for headworks, it would not be sufficient to move many projects into a more viable position.

UDIA WA has called on the State Government to increase expand the IDF to incorporate a broader range of statutory fees and charges (e.g. land tax, headworks, council costs like public art contributions, development contributions, council rates and building license fees), to increase the rebate amount to $20,000 per unit in line with the scale of these costs and relax locational restrictions to help support project viability.

We will continue our advocacy with the State Government for the expansion of the IDF into an Infill Development Catalyst Fund.

EPA changes to referral requirements for planning schemes

As mooted by Minister Whitby at UDIA WA’s State Conference last week, it has been announced today that planning schemes and amendments without direct environmental impact will no longer require Environmental Protection Authority referral.

The Minister has advised that the new regulations will significantly reduce the number of planning schemes referred to the Environmental Protection Authority and free up EPA resources for other items of priority, as well as reduce unnecessary administration for local governments.

Until now, all regional and local planning schemes and amendments had to be referred to the EPA for assessment for their impact on the environment.

UDIA WA strongly supports the intent to streamline the EPA’s assessment activities to focus on matters that will have the greatest impact on the environment and facilitate a more efficient decision-making process for proponents.  However, while this is a positive step, as outlined in our submission on 14 April 2023 on the draft regulations, the amendments not requiring referral to the EPA is too limited and other changes are required to support achievement of this objective.

For clarity, the Environmental Protection Amendment Regulations 2024 were published several months ago, on 24 January 2024.  These set out several prescribed classes and scheme amendments that meet those requirements will no longer need to be referred to the EPA.  It is important to note that this does not for example apply to schemes that propose rezoning of land, even where it has been previously developed and has little or no environmental value.

UDIA WA will continue its advocacy with the State Government around implementing the Vogel-McFerran Review recommendations and seeking other meaningful regulatory changes to support planning-led environmental decision making.  This includes further consideration of mechanisms to facilitate the streamlining of straightforward rezonings from a Metropolitan Region Scheme (MRS) and Local Planning Scheme (LPS) perspective and of previously developed land, as well as other changes to the EP Act. This is crucial is getting much needed housing supply on the ground to achieve WA’s housing target, and better support sustainable population growth and a more compact and connected city aligned with Government endorsed strategies and policies.

Residential Design Codes Volume 1 released

The final State Planning Policy 7.3 Residential Design Codes were released at the end of last week and will be operational as of 10 April 2024.

Following extensive advocacy by UDIA WA on behalf of industry, the new ‘Part C’ of the State Planning Policy 7.3 that refers to medium density development, has been amended to remove single homes coded R30 and R40. There are also a suite of changes that we have outlined for members in our member alert here

The changes to the policy and regulation have been made in line with the extensive advocacy efforts of UDIA WA to ensure the timely delivery of housing to the market. UDIA WA supports the need to deliver new and improved housing products which foster good design and innovation.

This revised Code allows for greater flexibility and choice for consumers whilst also allowing for the supply of housing products to not be interrupted.

Over the coming weeks UDIA WA will be working with our relevant policy committees to unpack all the relevant details of the updated Codes and we will ensure ongoing communication and education opportunities for our members in relation to the new Codes moving forward.  

UDIA WA will also continue to monitor the impact of the implementation of SPP 7.3 on the industry and will work proactively with DPLH and WAPC to ensure feedback is given due consideration.

For more information, read our member alert here, the State Government Media Statement here, read SPP 7.3 here or read about the amendments to the R Codes here.

Development Conference success

Last Friday we concluded the Annual UDIA WA State Conference for another year.  Following our wrap up of day one proceedings in this newsletter last week, we are pleased to provide a run down on the final day, which featured another line up of insightful and engaging presentations and panel discussions.

Friday commenced with a presentation from the Hon. Reece Whitby MLA, Minister for Environment; Climate Action; Racing and Gaming where he outlined the State Government’s progress in relation to streamlining environmental assessments & approvals, regional planning and the interface with the Federal Government changes to the EPBC Act.  The Minister also announced the updates to requirements for planning schemes and amendments that have been outlined above.

The Minister’s presentation was followed by a panel discussion exploring the practicalities of balancing environmental value and delivering housing supply with insights from Anthony Fisk, Director at ReGen Strategic, Grant Shepherd, Development Director at Hesperia and Jason Hick, Principal Environmental Consultant, Managing Director Environment at Emerge Associates Landscape Architects & Environmental Consultants.

Adam James from Cerclos then delivered an informative presentation outlining their technology and process for measuring carbon in developments and current case studies from their project with UDIA WA; before Jeff Thierfelder, Principal at Edgefield Projects showcased the fantastic work being done at Witchcliffe Ecovillage, the world’s most sustainable urban development and recent UDIA WA Award winner.

The closing keynote address was delivered by Rob Redenbach who gave some incredible insights following his work training Nelson Mandela’s bodyguard team in South Africa along with working with security details for aid agencies in Baghdad among other amazing and inspirational experiences. Delegates took away some great learnings on leadership, conflict resolution and resilience from his presentation.

Once again, we would like to thank all the speakers and our State Conference sponsors this year Western Power, DevelopmentWA, Plus Architecture and Stockland for their ongoing support of this fantastic annual event.

Georgia Scott moving on

On Friday UDIA WA will say farewell to our Events and Sponsorship Manager Georgia Scott who is moving into a new role within the industry after 4 years with UDIA WA.

During her time with UDIA Georgia has spearheaded our hugely popular events program as well as fostered fantastic relationships with our valued sponsors and Industry Partners.

Many of our members and stakeholders will have engaged with Georgia during her time at UDIA and like us, will be sad to see Georgia leave, but we wish her all the best in her future career and look forward to seeing her on the other side of the event table as an attendee.

Exclusive member release of The Urbanist

Earlier this week UDIA WA were pleased to release the latest edition of The Urbanist magazine exclusively for our members.

The theme for this edition is REJUVENATION. We consider rejuvenation from many different angles including urban redevelopment, economic rejuvenation, health and wellbeing, and the environment.

Delve into several case studies from around the world and right here in Western Australia that are rejuvenating our urban areas and ensuring that we are creating places and spaces for the future.

This edition features:

  • The vision for transformation of our beloved port city Fremantle, showcasing the three scenarios for the future of Fremantle’s inner harbour precinct, including insights from the Chair of the Future of Fremantle Planning Committee Jane Bennett, Fremantle Mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge and Aboriginal Elder Freda Ogilvie.
  • An overview of the Karla Waangkiny Healing and Justice Initiative that will provide First Nations people aged 16-35 with healing and support to break intergenerational cycles of trauma.
  • Further afield we showcase the rejuvenation of South London led by the Elephant Park redevelopment by Lendlease.
  • We discover the award winning Boola Katitjin academic building at Murdoch University that is centred around biophilic design and increasing people’s connection with the natural environment.
  • We get an insight into plans for the rejuvenation of Belmont Racecourse into an iconic Perth destination by Golden Sedayu.
  • On a much broader scale,  we learn about the United Nations #GenerationRestoration movement that involves supporting eight cities to embark on pilot projects to restore their urban ecosystems, with insights from the Deputy Mayor of Paris Christophe Najdovski.
  • Plus, an article on how infill development is adding value to local communities through greater amenity and activation with insights from Richard PappasCorey Scidone and Ross Catalano.
  • We also feature Op Eds from Nokturnl co-founder Ross Drennan and City of Karratha Mayor Daniel Scott.

Read this edition here.

Applications to open for Builders’ Support Facility

On Monday, the Cook Government announced that applications for its $10 million Builders’ Support Facility will open next week, with an aim to help assist the completion of homes that have been under construction for more than two years.

The scheme, announced in January, will provide interest-free loans to support eligible residential builders to complete new homes that have been under construction for more than two years, and at the same time, assist Western Australians into their new homes.

Program guidelines have also been released on the Small Business Development Corporation’s website to allow builders to begin preparing necessary documentation, which are available here.

Under the Builders’ Support Facility, successful applicants will be eligible for interest-free loans of up to $60,000 per home and a maximum of $300,000 per applicant.

Financial assistance will be offered on a ‘first come’ basis, with loans to be repaid within five years.

Homes are required to reach practical completion 12 months from the execution of the loan document, with the loan disbursed in instalments to encourage timely completions.

Applications close on April 30, 2024.

Hon. Peter Tinley to retire

Former Housing Minister and Member for Willagee, Peter Tinley MLA, has announced today that he will not contest the 2025 State Election.

Mr Tinley was elected to Parliament in 2009 as the Member for Willagee, after a distinguished 25-year career serving the nation in the Australian Army, including 17 years in the Special Air Service Regiment.

Mr Tinley was appointed to Cabinet in 2017, and served as a Minister from 2017 to 2021 in a range of portfolios including Housing.

UDIA WA wishes Mr Tinley all the best in his retirement from state office.

Last chance to register for Built Form Course

Registrations for our 2-day Built Form Development Course are set to close next week.

If you’re interested in the built form environment and looking to upskill and grow your knowledge base and you or anyone in your team needs to benefit from an up to date refresher on all elements associated with residential built form practices and processes our Built Form Development Course is right for you.

This in depth two day course teaches the practical elements of residential built form development, including but not limited to:

  • Site identification & acquisition
  • Demographic analysis
  • The planning framework & stakeholder management
  • Product design
  • Feasibility creation & interpretation
  • Delivery, titling & contracting
  • Sales & marketing

Real life examples, and plenty of life lessons, make this an excellent course for anybody wanting to get into medium to high density development, for those that are already in the industry wanting to grow their knowledge base, or for those that service the industry and wish to better understand a developer’s assumptions.

This masterclass is tailored to the local development industry and presented by a leading industry practitioner Danielle Davison. Attendance to this course attracts 7 REBA CPD points if applicable.

Register here: here but be quick as registrations close COB Tuesday 19 March 2024.

Building gender equality on WA Government construction projects

Last Friday as part of its acknowledgement of International Women’s Day, the State Government announced they would be joining with industry for a gender equality pilot to deliver results for women in construction in Western Australia.

The $63 million Fremantle Hospital 40-bed Mental Health redevelopment is the first State Government construction project to trial gender equality targets and reporting.

The pilot aims to increase female representation on non-residential construction projects and demonstrate what can be achieved by female talent within the construction industry.

The State Government is working with ADCO Construction to deliver the 40 additional mental health beds at Fremantle Hospital, which will expand treatment and support options for patients in Perth’s southern corridor.

ADCO has committed to appointing between 25-30% female staff on its project team and achieving 10-15% female representation through its trade partners. The current industry averages for female representation are about 13% across all construction roles and less than 3% for trades.

The female team from ADCO is comprised of contract administrators, a safety adviser, site engineer and apprentice supervisor.  

In addition, the Department of Finance, South Metropolitan Health Service and State consultants all have strong representation of women delivering the project, including project directors, senior managers, project officers, architects and an interior designer.