From the CEO

“Ogres are like onions.”

Shrek is not just one of my all-time favourite family movies but a remarkable reflection of many aspects of humanity. Premier Mark McGowan yesterday remarked that high density development had been unfairly portrayed as some kind of ogre lurking in the suburbs. Not because they make people cry or are smelly, but because of the perception by some that density destroys liveability.

Both an onion and an ogre, as Shrek explains, have many layers. Those layers represent the full depth of emotion and complexity that sits behind what is a seemingly simple assumption to make about a person or a situation based purely on what is visible on the surface.

NIMBYism on the surface appears to be both wide-spread and driven purely by selfish intent and lack of education about what is required in order to accommodate future population growth & deliver housing choice. As you peel away the layers of emotionally driven objection, what likely remains is fear. Fear of change, fear of negative impacts to either lifestyle or financial circumstances perceived to be driven by greater density in ones local area.

The antidote to fear is both courage and hope. Courage to lead and make tough decisions is important when we need to deliver desperately needed housing supply in an infill environment. Equally, NIMBYs and more broadly our community need hope and evidence that the way in which this is executed enhances not detracts from the place they call their own.

Our members seek to create value, not take it away. Whilst a silent majority may understand this, the need for a productive dialogue with the minority is ever growing. We need to peel back the layers and work through the tears in order to live happily ever after.

Medium Density Design Code released

UDIA WA welcomed the release of the final version of the Medium Density Design Code this morning after several years of design, testing and drafting.

The draft code was launched by the Premier at UDIA WA’s industry luncheon in November 2020 and since then, we have provided detailed feedback along the journey to ensure the provisions within the policy do not adversely impact housing affordability.

In forming our submissions, UDIA WA established a bespoke working group to undertake a detailed review of the draft Code and supporting guidelines.  This group was instrumental in unpacking the detail and potential consequences of the draft to ensure that our formal response was well informed.

We welcome the finalisation of the Code and support the delivery of high quality medium density development as a crucial component of delivering housing choice throughout Western Australia.

Read our full Member Alert with all the details here.

Phase 2 Planning Reforms & Infrastructure Development Fund announced

In a busy week of announcements, UDIA WA sent a Member Alert to all members yesterday advising of the latest announcements that the Premier has made in relation to Phase 2 of the State Government’s planning reform agenda along with the launch of an $80 million Infrastructure Development Fund.

The planning reforms are a welcome response to UDIA WA’s direct advocacy in this space, particularly in relation to the need for a permanent pathway for the coordination of agency referrals.

You can read our full Member Alert with all the details about the planning reform and the new infrastructure fund here.

Development Ready Pipeline pilot project launched

At our first Industry Luncheon for 2023 on Friday, UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck was pleased to launch preliminary findings from UDIA’s Development Ready Pipeline (DRP) pilot project.

The pilot, which focuses on the Perth Metropolitan Area, has made preliminary findings in relation to Perth’s residential housing pipeline and identified where there are fundamental constraints to delivering much needed housing to the market.

The project is looking at all areas across Perth, including both infill and greenfield areas, that are zoned for potential urban development.

Key findings from the initial pilot have revealed that approximately one quarter (24%) of undeveloped urban zoned land in the Perth Metro Area is identified as being fundamentally constrained.

A further 18% of all potential future urban land, such as land in planning investigation areas and zoned as urban deferred, is identified as fundamentally constrained.

‘Fundamentally constrained’ means that land is effectively sterilized from future development.  As part of the project, UDIA WA has calculated that equates to between 150,000 to 200,000 potential new homes that cannot be delivered to the market across Perth on either urban zoned or potential future urban land.

The fundamental constraints that have been identified are primarily in relation to environmental or infrastructure constraints, including Bush Forever sites, floodways, school sites, rail corridors, service infrastructure easements and major roads.

These are constraints that cannot necessarily be overcome, so we will need to look at other options for how we can deliver that shortfall of homes that are needed.

In addition to the fundamentally constrained areas, the project has also identified a potential further 20% of undeveloped urban zoned or potential future urban land that has ‘other’ types of constraints which will prove challenging to the delivery of new homes.

It is that 20% with ‘other’ types of constraints where we need to focus our attention, as these ‘other’ constraints are more manageable if industry and government work together to look for shared solutions.

‘Other’ constraints include partial site coverage of remnant vegetation or State Forest, with additional challenges presented by fragmented land ownership, lack of service agency commitment or funding allocation for required infrastructure.

While we are planning to interrogate the data from the pilot project even further, UDIA WA has made several preliminary recommendations in relation to addressing those ‘other’ constraints.

You can read our recommendations and more detail about the pilot project by viewing UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck’s presentation slides from the launch here.

Cost Recovery for Environmental Assessments under the EPBC Act

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water recently consulted on cost recovery for environmental assessments under the EPBC Act.

A 100% cost recovery model is being proposed, which the Department estimates would likely equate to a 7 to 10 times increase in fees to be paid by proponents.  This level of increase on an already complex, time consuming and labour-intensive process, will put projects in jeopardy, undermine housing supply and adversely impact affordability.

UDIA, together with PCA, made a submission highlighting issues with the current system and the impact the proposal would have on industry, as well as making recommendations to avoid this and balance environmental protection with supporting the productivity of the industry.

It is essential that the Department is appropriately funded to be able to undertake environmental assessments efficiently and effectively.  However, while UDIA and PCA agree with the principle of user pays to ensure the efficient service delivery, any cost recovery model must be based on appropriate costing assumptions and efficient work effort, including careful allocation of productive resources to balance private benefit and public good. It must also be designed to incentivise continuous improvement of government service delivery including achievement of target timeframes.

Unfortunately, the current proposal does not do that and the magnitude of the cost increase on a broken system, would hit many projects hard.

Our submission calls for the EPBC overhaul to be completed to realise operational and cost efficiencies first, prior to the implementation of the cost recovery initiative on a more reasonable cost increase, aligned with commensurate improvements to service delivery and timeframes.

Other recommendations include:


  • Increased costs not applying to existing projects within the EPBC system.
  • The cost recovery legislation incorporating objectives for costing services.
  • Regular public reports to determine the cost recovery impact.
  • KPIs and metrics around service delivery and timeframes.
  • A mechanism to allow EPBC costs to be independently assessed.
  • A program of process improvement as part of the legislation.
  • Accelerated timeframes for additional cost only to be implemented where the EPBC is first overhauled.
  • EPBC costs being reimbursed if statutory timeframes are not met.
  • Exceptions to promote affordability and housing supply.
  • Government and industry workshops to formulate viable solutions for levies.


UDIA will continue to engage with the Department and our members on this important issue.


UDIA WA Policy team in action

This week the Policy Team in conjunction with UDIA Queensland’s EnviroDevelopment team conducted the 2023 EnviroDevelopment Technical Standards Review workshop with a select Task Force.

The EnviroDevelopment Technical Standards are designed to be flexible, to encourage innovation and to avoid any unintended negative outcomes that can sometimes result when standards or regulations are overly prescriptive.

The standards aim to recognise the performance of a development in achieving broad environmental goals, whilst facilitating the most appropriate or innovative method to be chosen for individual situations.

This review is undertaken every 3-4 years with the updated Standards set to be released in the later half of this year.  If you want to find out more about UDIA’s EnviroDevelopment program, visit the website here.

National Congress – early bird closing this Tuesday!

Discounted early bird rates for UDIA’s National Congress, set to be held here in Perth from 27-29 March 2023 close on Tuesday!  Don’t miss out on an opportunity to join industry colleagues from across the country for this annual event that showcases a range of international and local expert speakers, world class study tours and fantastic networking events.

The Congress will kick off with an the Oliver Hume Welcome Event at the stunning Art Gallery of WA rooftop bar.  Plenary sessions will feature the likes of Mark Bouris AM; Adrian Harrington, Chair of NHFIC; Amy Auster from PwC and Andrew Miller from HATCH Canada.

The closing gala event will include the National Awards for Excellence winner announcements and recognise the very best in urban development across Australia.

To find out more and to register, visit