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16 December 2021

Industry Issues 16-12-2021

From the CEO

Many of our members, family and friends Christmas wish was granted on Monday when Premier Mark McGowan finally named the ‘safe transition’ date as Saturday 5th February when WA will rejoin the rest of the nation with open borders.

While uncertainty and some apprehension is inevitable as we will need to learn to live with COVID and some increased restrictions, we certainly hope that 2022 will see more people moving into WA to help fill those skills shortages and ensure we can keep our economy in a strong growth mode.

This year has been an extremely busy one for many of our members and I hope this festive season brings time to relax with family and friends and take stock of what we have achieved in the last 12 months.  Record high sales numbers and dwelling commencements teamed with skills and materials shortages means that the industry has been working around the clock.  As always, the development industry has risen to the occasion and there are so many fantastic projects in the pipeline that will ensure 2022 is another great year.

From all the team at UDIA WA I wish all our members a very happy festive season and we look forward to continuing to work hard for the industry that is creating communities for the future in 2022!

Date confirmed for re-opening

Earlier this week WA Premier Mark McGowan confirmed WA will reconnect with the rest of the country and the world on February 5, 2022 when the domestic and international borders will re-open.

Having achieved the 80% vaccination rate on Monday, the Premier locked-in a transition date for around when WA is likely to be at its target rate of 90% double dose vaccination for eligible Western Australians aged 12 years and above.

The aim of waiting for the 90% double vaxxed rate is designed to help deliver the softest landing and minimise the impact of the virus when it enters our State.

As part of this attempt the Premier has upgraded New South Wales to an extreme risk state, removing the ability for Western Australians to re-enter from NSW on compassionate reasons. The upgraded category followed predictions that there will be 25,000 COVID cases a day in NSW by the end of January, according to the NSW Health Minister.

Premier McGowan also announced an additional investment of $1.28 billion into the health and mental health system in the 2021-22 Mid-year Review. Combined with the $1.9 billion investment at Budget, this has delivered a record $3.2 billion boost to Western Australia’s health system.

The additional funding in the Mid-year Review includes the recently announced $398 million to prepare WA to safely transition to living with COVID-19, including an additional 270 hospital beds and associated staff.

For more information about WA’s Transition Plan, click here.

Housing supply woes hurting homebuyers and renters

New research confirms housing affordability continues to deteriorate for home buyers and is now adding to stress across rental and regional housing markets, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

UDIA National said the research from the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) released today shows how imbalances in Australia’s housing markets continue to hurt home buyers and renters.

UDIA National – the nation’s peak body representing the property development industry – said the report is the latest warning sign on the unhealthy state of housing markets.

“Australia has one of the world’s least affordable housing markets and it continued to decline during the pandemic,” UDIA National President, Maxwell Shifman said.

The report reveals a larger proportion of first home buyers can afford to access a smaller slice of available stock as house prices keep escalating. Until now, these stresses have largely revealed themselves in our major capital cities – but we are now seeing the same challenges infecting a host of regional and rental markets.

“The simple fact is pipelines have been strangled through unnecessarily complex and slow planning systems, and excessive regulation, all of which impact the price that home buyers pay,” Mr Shifman said. “Many areas are now on the back foot when it comes to delivering sufficient supply due to lack of forward planning.“

The gap between supply and demand widened as far as 200,000 homes in the past decade, and we risk a repeat as Australia begins to again re-integrate itself to the world. The Government’s own forecasts show that once business-as-usual immigration and population settings return post-pandemic, demand is poised to rise to over 178,000 homes per year.

Yet for the past 20 years we have averaged 142,700 new homes per annum in supply – with predictable consequences for affordability which UDIA has been warning about for years.

UDIA National is recommending a wholesale transformation of housing policy frameworks, with a dedicated focus needed on removing the barriers to housing supply.

This includes a new incentives-based model that:

  • Sees independent and transparent housing targets, tied to population growth, set for each state and territory
  • Makes financial incentives available to states and territories that meet the target, with the money to be recirculated into initiatives like enabling infrastructure essential to support housing production
  • Ties the payments to actual performance, so the states and territories are only rewarded for delivering real outcomes that boost supply, rather than just the production of plans or strategies.

“The incentives model should be backed by independent league tables that showcase the performance of states and territories and deliver greater accountability,” Mr Shifman said.

“We need to bring urgency to the task of giving all Australians a shot at fulfilling the dream of home ownership.”

Medium Density Advisory Group

On Monday, UDIA received a Medium Density Design Code project update as a member of DPLH’s Medium Density Advisory Group.

DPLH provided an overview of several changes that are proposed to the draft code to provide greater design flexibility including the removal provisions which are included in the National Construction Code.

DPLH will undertake further testing of the code with a limited number of key industry stakeholders in the first quarter of 2022.

UDIA will keep members updated as the reform program progresses.

Invest West – Opportunities

UDIA have now confirmed ‘Invest West’ will be the theme for the next edition of our thought-leadership publication The Urbanist, with this edition highlighting the many incredible aspects that make WA the place to live, work and invest.

The next edition of the magazine will be released in March 2022 and following the re-opening of the borders at the start of February, it will look at a variety of factors that will have an impact on WA’s position as a world leader in the post-COVID era.

If you have a project or initiative that you think would fit in with this theme or would like to position your brand alongside excellence, contact cthurmott@udiawa.com.au to discuss editorial and advertising opportunities in the upcoming edition.

To read the recently released Transport edition, click here and keep an eye out for the hard copy version which should be arriving at our members offices this week.

Mid-year Review invests in safe transition and keeping WA strong

Earlier today the State Government released the 2021-22 Mid-year Review which shows the State economy performing strongly as Western Australia prepares to safely transition its border controls on February 5.

Treasury anticipates WA’s economic growth will accelerate to 3.5% in 2021‑22, which would be the strongest growth in eight years.

Employment is forecast to increase by 3.75% or around 51,500 additional jobs in 2021‑22, with the unemployment rate expected to remain very low over the next four years at just 4% in 2024-25.

The net operating surplus has been revised down in 2021-22 to $2.4 billion from $2.8 billion at Budget, with stronger surpluses now expected over the forward estimates.

While the sharper than expected fall in the iron ore price has reduced royalty projections in 2021-22, this is more than offset by a $1.7 billion upward revision to taxation revenue over the forward estimates. Strong economic conditions, particularly in the housing and labour markets, are expected to generate higher transfer duty collections (up $1 billion) and payroll tax (up $622 million).

Net debt is expected to decline for the third consecutive year to $32.6 billion in 2021-22.

For more information, see here.

Final economic update for 2021 due out tomorrow

UDIA WA will release the November Urban Intelligence to members tomorrow, providing the latest economic statistics relevant to the development industry.

The new edition will also include a feature article from UDIA WA Executive Manager – Research Toby Adams.

When finalised, the new Urban Intelligence will be available here.

WA’s employment figures remain strong

WA retained its title as having the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.8% in November, a further 0.1% decrease on the month before.

Nationally the unemployment rate dropped to 4.6%, down 0.6% from the previous month, which coupled with a 1.4% rise in the participation rate highlights a strong return to employment across the country.

WA’s participation rate increased 1.0% to sit at 69.4%, the highest of all the States and only beaten by the Northern Territory’s 71.6% participation rate.

The underemployment rate also increased in WA to sit at 6.6%, a rise of 0.3% on the previous month, however this was still the lowest figure in the country, with the exception of the Northern Territory.

Federal Government releasing better than expected figures

Earlier today the Federal Government released its Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2021-22 wherein they revealed Australia’s budget bottom line is set to be $7.4 billion better off than it was in May.

Net debt is now forecast to be $55.6b lower due to an improved economic outlook and the reopening of Australia’s borders will result in 180,000 people moving to our shores to call Australia home by June 2023 – 84,000 more than what was anticipated in the May Budget.

The document assumes Australia’s borders be fully opened with no restrictions early in 2022 following a gradual recovery in outbound international tourism beginning in November 2021. Inbound international tourism recommenced in late 2021 through travel bubble arrangements and a more broad-based recovery is assumed to occur from early 2022.

The MYEFO document forecast one million new jobs over the forward estimates, 150,000 more than in Budget.

For more information, click here.

Landgate announces SPUR grants to location technology innovators

Six Western Australian innovators will share a total $150,000 in grant funding from Landgate and DevelopmentWA for the SPUR Location Grants Program.

Lands Minister Tony Buti today made the announcement that each recipient will receive $25,000 to support their innovative idea to deliver outcomes from location data using new and emerging technology in the land and property sector.

Baada Aboriginal Corporation will receive the First Nations grant for their cultural engagement model through student education, with a fish feeding, tracking and release program on the Swan River. The model will apply Indigenous fishery management techniques and employ passive integrated transponders so students can track ‘their’ fish via an app on their phone.

Landgate’s SPUR grants program is a collaborative Western Australian Government initiative, designed to discover innovative location data technology and deliver improvements to the State’s land and property sector.

In addition to the grant funding, Landgate and its partnering agencies will provide support and tailored information sessions.  For more information about Landgate’s SPUR Location Grants Program, visit the website.

Updated Guidelines for Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas

This week the Western Australian Planning Commission published Version 1.4 of the Guidelines for Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas.

The changes are effective immediately and planning proposals and applications where State Planning Policy 3.7 Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas applies should be assessed against the updated criteria. However, decision-makers can continue to accept BMPs that are prepared in accordance with Version 1.3 of the Guidelines for three months from the release date of the new guidelines, until 13 March 2022.

The updated guidelines are part of the State Government’s ongoing Bushfire Framework Review. The recommendations set out in the final report by the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements (also known as the Bushfires Royal Commission) are being considered for inclusion in further iterations of State Planning Policy 3.7 Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas and associated Guidelines for Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas (the Guidelines).

Changes in the updated Guidelines (from Version 1.3) include:

  • Revised Element 3, including:
    • annotating the acceptable solutions to clarify which planning stage to which they apply
    • inclusion of two additional performance principles
    • inclusion of a provision within the acceptable solutions outlining where a no-through road may exceed 200 metres
    • terminology change for ‘cul-de-sac’ to ‘through-road’
    • inclusion of an acceptable solution for perimeter roads
    • fire-service access routes to be no further than 500 metres from a public road
    • removal of the maximum battle-axe length
    • outlining instances where no battle-axe or private driveway technical requirements are required under the Guidelines
    • removal of the acceptable solution for firebreak widths
    • updated Table 6: Vehicular access technical requirements
    • modified explanatory notes
  • Revised ‘Element 4: Water’ to provide more clarity to the water requirements, such as:
    • annotating the acceptable solutions to clarify the planning stage to which they apply
    •  providing discretion to local government to require a strategic water tank (which would be in their care and control), or to require private water tanks on individual lots
    • specifying technical requirements of water tanks such as materials and couplings
    • variation in the provision of water supply based on the number of lots proposed
    • clarification on whether water tanks can be used for both firefighting and drinking (potable) water.
  • Revised Schedule 1 – Standards for asset protection zones (APZ) to provide additional guidance for the type of objects and fine fuel load that are permitted within an APZ and aligning tree and scrub heights with Australian Standard 3959: Construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas 2018.
  • Modified explanatory notes for APZs to provide additional guidance.
  • Revised section 2.3 to remove reference to “significant vegetation” which is not defined and referencing State environmental planning policies more generally.
  • Incorporation of section 5 ‘Exemptions’ from Planning Bulletin 111/2016 – Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas (PB 111/2016) into a new section 2.6 ‘Discretionary decision-making’ in the Guidelines, to consolidate information; with PB 111/2016 being rescinded*.
  • New section 2.7 ‘Legacy approvals issued prior to SPP 3.7 (2015) that inform subsequent stages of the planning process’, to provide guidance for discretionary decision-making for legacy sites.
  • Incorporation of the Position Statement: Tourism Land Uses in Bushfire Prone Areas into section 5.5.1 ‘Vulnerable land uses’ and a new ‘Element 5: Tourism land uses’; with the Position Statement being rescinded*. Modifications have also been made to the acceptable solutions.
  • Revised section 5.3 ‘Subdivision in Bushfire Prone Areas’ to reflect the updated Model Subdivision Conditions.
  • Revised section 5.5.2 ‘Developing a Bushfire Emergency Evacuation Plan’ to provide more information regarding what should be in an Emergency Evacuation Plan.
  • Reference that the Department of Fire and Emergency Services are not required to endorse bushfire management plans.
  • Updated Table 2 to reflect AS 3959 (2018).
  • Updated Figure 8.
  • Updated agency names and responsibilities.
  • Additional definitions.

*The inclusion of section 2.6 ‘Discretionary decision-making’ and ‘Element 5: Tourism land uses’ in the Guidelines, means that both Planning Bulletin 111/2016 – Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas and the Position Statement: Tourism Land Uses in Bushfire Prone Areas will be rescinded from 13 March 2022. After this date, Planning Bulletin 111/2016 – Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas and the Position Statement: Tourism Land Uses in Bushfire Prone Areas can no longer be used in decision-making.

The DPLH Land Use Planning Policy team will be arranging both online and in person training sessions in the near future. If you have any questions regarding the application of these changes, please email the Land Use Planning Policy Team at bushfire@dplh.wa.gov.au

CoreLogic Economic & Property Review: Housing integral to Australia’s COVID-19 economic recovery

The property market’s fastest upswing on record, accompanied by a rapid increase in housing credit and highly elevated sales volumes has significantly supported Australia’s post-pandemic economic recovery, according to new analysis from CoreLogic

CoreLogic’s latest Economic & Property Review explores the major housing market trends to the end of November 2021, providing a national overview of the $9.4 trillion sector’s performance within the current economic landscape.

A summary of the housing finance environment, and a review of housing and economic performance in each state and territory is also included.

National dwelling values rose 22.2%, comprised of a 25.2% lift across regional Australia and a 21.3% rise in combined capital city dwelling values in the 12 months to November 2021. In the same period, there were an estimated 614,635 dwelling sales across the country, which is the highest annual sales volume since December 2003.

To read the full analysis, click here.

Safer Places by Design – CPTED Guidelines

The State Government is seeking feedback on the proposed draft Safer Places by Design Guidelines.

These Guidelines provide a practical resource in the application of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED), to promote the value of good design in delivering vibrant and safe public environments.

This consultation provides an opportunity for you to have your say on the draft Guidelines.

More information here.

Access to UDIA WA website changed

Access to the UDIA WA website recently changed as part of our aim to provide exceptional member services.

UDIA WA has invested in new technology that will integrate our member database with our website and online event registration capabilities with our new UDIA WA online Community Portal providing our members with seamless, integrated services and up to date information at the click of a button.

As part of the change all login details for the website were removed and each member organisation’s Key Representative was granted access initially and the Key Representative can now provide access to a further 2 representatives for their organisation.

All the necessary information was emailed to Key Representatives last week and can be accessed here for more information.

Once active the UDIA WA Community Portal includes exclusive member only access to:

  • Urban Express weekly news
  • The Urbanist quarterly magazine
  • The Urban Development Index quarterly market update
  • The Urban Intelligence economic data report
  • UDIA WA Members Directory listing details of all UDIA WA members
  • UDIA WA Diversity Toolkit
  • Relevant governance documents including the UDIA WA Annual Reports and Constitution
  • Ability to update you and your organisations details

For more information or any queries, email membership@udiawa.com.au