UDIA WA welcomes historic Planning Reforms

UDIA welcomed the news yesterday that the Planning and Development Amendment Bill 2020 has successfully passed through State Parliament and will now become law.

Following close consultation with UDIA WA and our members as part of the Planning Reform Action Plan, the legislation is set to remove red tape and speed up the approvals process for significant projects, which will ensure the development industry is ready to play its key role in the economic recovery effort following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now that the legislation has been passed, a new development application process will be immediately introduced to support significant, job-creating projects for the next 18 months to provide immediate support for the State’s economic recovery.

Taking on feedback from UDIA, a number of changes have been made to the original legislation including the definition of a significant development.

A significant development will now be defined as:

  • development proposals with an estimated cost of $20 million or more in the metropolitan region; or
  • development proposals with an estimated cost of $5 million in areas outside the metropolitan region (excludes warehouses).

This model will ensure that large and complex developments receive a State co-ordinated approach with referral agencies and streamlined assessment processes to ensure job creating projects can start as soon as possible.

To assist with the assessment of development applications through the new ‘significant development’ pathway a new team is being established within the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage to support the Western Australian Planning Commission with its temporary decision-making role.

The creation of a dedicated decision-making committee under WAPC to assess development proposals that have significant employment and economic benefits was one of the recommended actions in our Ready to Rebuild policy document which we released earlier this year. To view more of our recommended actions, Ready to Rebuild can be accessed here.

To read the detail behind the progress, amendments and passing of the Bill, click here.

UDIA WA releases second episode of The Urbanist Live

On Tuesday we released the second episode of The Urbanist Live, a new UDIA podcast exploring the latest property market news and trends.

In this episode, host Tanya Steinbeck, CEO of UDIA WA and UDIA WA’s Director of Policy and Research Chris Green discuss the immediate impact on the residential property market of the housing stimulus measures from both the Federal and State Governments.

Chris and Tanya also consider the current lay of the land in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and what the future might hold for the development industry.

This episode is sponsored by CarbonEMT, who with the backing of WINconnect, are Australia’s most established Community Energy Network operator. Visit carbonemt.com.au to see how CarbonEMT can benefit your next development with savings and sustainable technologies.

To listen to this episode, click here.

Off-the-plan purchases to assist medium and high-density developments

The Department of Communities is calling for submissions for home pre-sale opportunities as part of the recently announced Social Housing Economic Recovery Package, announced on Sunday 7 June.

“Within the $319 million package, the McGowan Government has allocated $97 million to stimulate the building industry through the construction of new housing and the purchase of off-the-plan dwellings,” Housing Minister Peter Tinley said.

“This submissions process aims to accelerate the start of building construction-ready projects across WA and support jobs in the State’s second-biggest employment sector.”

The government hopes that purchasing off-the-plan homes will help medium and high-density residential developments achieve the minimum number of pre-sales required to secure finance and commence construction.

Developers are invited to prepare and lodge submissions for developments that are well-designed, well-located and offer value for money in metropolitan Perth or regional Western Australia.

To be considered, developers must have a valid development approval and agree to the allocation of dwellings acquired through this process to any of the Department of Communities’ housing programs, including social and affordable housing.

“I urge developers who meet the requirements to get in quick and lodge a submission before the tender closes on July 3, 2020,” Mr Tinley said.

A maximum of 20% of the overall dwelling yield of a development will be considered for purchase.

Developments already under construction or completed will not be considered through this program.

The opportunity to lodge submissions is open until July 3, 2020. Developers can access the tender documents via TendersWA, here (tender number HOU202004740).

UDIA WA Economic Update Webinar

On Wednesday UDIA WA were pleased to be joined by Ivan Colhoun, Chief Economist of Markets at NAB for a special Member Briefing looking at the impacts COVID-19 has had on the Australian economy, and what it means for the future of the property industry.

During the hour-long briefing, Mr Colhoun took attendees through the current state of the Australian economy, highlighting that as business confidence fell, during the height of the initial wave of the pandemic, so too did job advertisements on the job website SEEK.

This drop in confidence was the result of faltering business conditions, which is average of profitability, trading and employment condition indices, which were felt across the country with the State experiencing a sharp decline this year.

Despite the low infection results in Australia throughout the pandemic so far, Mr Colhoun highlighted that the virus costs for the Australian economy were ‘shockingly large’ as seen in other overseas economies, however he said we are performing better than the RBA’s forecast baseline scenario with some potential for positivity on the horizon.

He said the rate of new infections across the country was a key input in forecasting the fortunes of the economy over the next 3-6 months, as is the rate and sequence of re-opening the economy through the relaxation of restrictions.

According to NAB statistical analysis, there will be a large hit to the economy in Q2 this year but GDP will start to improve in Q3, however its modelling suggests GDP is not expected to return to pre-Covid levels until 2022.

In terms of the housing market, Mr Colhoun said it was holding up better than expected, which is probably due to Government support schemes, such as JobKeeper and JobSeeker and also through the Banks allowing mortgage holders to defer some payments. NAB does expect house prices to ease 10-15% across the country.

Mr Colhoun ended his presentation with an overview of the Perth housing market before the pandemic which showed house prices were broadly stable and that population growth in WA was strong. He said that pre-Covid WA’s overseas migration combined with fewer people moving interstate had seen WA’s population growth at its strongest level since 2014.

With the hard border closures both internationally and interstate at the moment Mr Colhoun said immigration was likely to slow sharply and potentially return a negative result thanks to the rising unemployment levels and fewer international students arriving.

The Latest on Land in WA

New Homes by The West Australian are due to run a new series called The Latest on Land in WA, which will document the latest happenings in WA land throughout the month of July.

The new insert will cover areas of interest to the New Homes readership and offer expert insight to help its readers recognise the opportunities and value on offer in the current climate.

Topics to be covered include where to buy land, estates on the horizon, things to know when securing your block, the latest in house and land packages, details on infrastructure developments in emerging suburbs and much more.

This is an exclusive opportunity to get your brand and your voice in front of 266,000 readers over the month and showcase the excellent land opportunities you have to offer.

For more information see here or reach out to Maddisen.booth@wanews.com.au.

SHIFT Digi Conference set to inspire

UDIA WA is proud to support a new Digi Conference organized by the TownTeam Movement in response to COVID-19 and its impacts on society. Shift Cooperative Innovation is a one-day conference that will explore how citizens, local communities, organisations, and governments can use the current situation as an opportunity to do things better.

It will cover topics such as reimagining town centres, the power of citizen led action, fostering collaborative team innovation, and the role of arts and creativity in the recovery.

This digital event is about how we can imagine a brighter future and cooperate to work towards that vision and will be hosted entirely online using Zoom and Mighty Networks.

The conference will take place on Friday 31 July and is proposed to be four hours from 9:30am-1:30pm AWST. It will include international speakers, breakout rooms and interactive networking. Participants will be sent materials and logins two weeks before the conference to allow time to familiarise themselves with the platforms.

Keynote and breakout sessions will be designed to experiment with a variety of mediums including pre-recorded video content, breakout rooms and unique panel processes to engage the attendees in the conversation.

Breaks and sessions will be hosted from various locations, for example a yoga break at Elizabeth Quay or a live band playing at the Rechabite. This provides attendees with new perspectives, a short escape out and about in Perth, and pays creatives and facilitators for producing the content.

Tickets are $45 + GST + booking fees and Town Team Members will be able to attend for free.

Tickets can also be purchased via tax invoice. Please email a request and a purchase order number to hello@townteammovement.com (there are no booking fees to pay via invoice)

For more information, click here and to book tickets, click here.

Western Australia set to enter Phase 4

On Saturday 27 June, Western Australia will enter Phase 4 of the State Government’s Roadmap to Recovery which will see the removal of key COVID-19 related restrictions including the removal of all gathering limits with the exception of the 2 square metre per person rule.

Phase 4 will also allow stadiums to receive up to 50% capacity meaning Optus Stadium could potentially hold up to 30,000 fans.

Mr McGowan also announced that pending the safe introduction of Phase 4, Phase 5 is set to be introduced from 18 July. Phase 5 is set to remove the remaining COVID-19 related restrictions including the 2 square metre per person rule and will enable our sporting venues to hold full capacity, however the hard border closure will remain in place.

Following the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Victoria, Mr McGowan has refused to set a tentative date when the hard border closure will come down, however he said it will only happen once the Eastern States have outbreaks firmly under control.

Full details of this roadmap can be found here.

Wallbot climbing to new heights for Green Infrastructure

The potential for robotic technology to enable an increase in the installation of green walls and facades whilst reducing OHS and maintenance costs is significant.

This is the view of Professor Sara Wilkinson and Dr Marc Carmichael who are heading up a research project at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) looking into the advantages of using a new technology to inspect, monitor and maintain green walls on the side of infrastructure and buildings.

“The benefits of urban green infrastructure are widely accepted and include urban heat island attenuation, increased biodiversity, reduced carbon emission, biophilia effects, provision of spaces for social interaction, attenuation of rainwater flooding and improved air quality,” Professor Wilkinson said.

“With climate change and increasing temperatures a stark reality for all of us, resilience and liveability, as well as sustainability, are greatly enhanced through the adoption of Green Infrastructure (GI).”

To read this blog piece in full, click here.

New Chair appointed to lead Landgate Board

Robert Cole, the current Chairperson of Synergy and a lawyer with 35 years’ experience in the public and private sectors, has been appointed to lead the Landgate Board for the next three years.

Mr Cole replaces the outgoing Chairperson, Caroline de Mori, who has been a member of the Landgate Board since 2015.

Mr Cole spent the first 20 years of his career at law firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques where he gained experience in corporate, commercial and property matters for the iron ore, alumina, oil and gas, gas transport and electricity industries.

He is the former Chairperson of the Southern Ports Authority and currently on the Board of charitable organisation St Bartholomew’s House Inc., and various mining and resource companies.

Mr Cole’s experience will be highly beneficial in supporting Landgate’s operations as a government agency with commercial responsibilities.

Mr Cole’s appointment commences on August 1, 2020.

New plan for Bayswater Town Centre sets vision for growth

Earlier today a new town centre plan for Bayswater was released which aims to set a strong vision for community growth and a greater mix of land uses.

Expanding 650m around the train station, the Bayswater Town Centre Structure Plan provides for a diverse range of new dwellings and job opportunities within a walkable distance to public transport services.

Developments that provide a mix of retail, residential and commercial uses will be encouraged to create a vibrant and resilient local economy, adding new retail space in the town centre and complementing the character of local shop fronts.

Bayswater is part of the State Government’s METRONET East Redevelopment project which should deliver new transport, housing, leisure and employment opportunities across Perth’s east metropolitan suburbs.

Building on the existing local character, Development WA will now work with the City of Bayswater to finalise a detailed planning framework that will support the Structure Plan to aid revitalisation of the town centre and surrounding areas, maximise development opportunities and create a metropolitan centre.

The Structure Plan will be supported by a new planning scheme for the METRONET East Redevelopment Area which is expected to be in place later this year. Further public consultation will be undertaken as part of the detailed planning framework.

Treasurer announces a reduction in Household fees

Following a reduction in the gross rental values (GRV) across the Perth Metropolitan area, owners of metropolitan properties could be in line for a reduction in their household fees.

According to a statement from WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt earlier today, the one per cent reduction in fees in 2020/21 is primarily due to the McGowan Government’s decision to pass on the 13% average fall in gross rental values (GRVs) to the owners of metropolitan properties.

Households will now either receive a freeze or a reduction in GRV-related State Government charges, including the Emergency Services Levy (ESL), and wastewater and drainage charges.

While regional GRVs have not yet been revised by the Valuer-General, the McGowan Government will freeze regional household GRV related charges for 2020-21.

Household wastewater and drainage charges will fall on average by around $23.52.  Around 55% of metropolitan households will receive a fall, and 45% of metropolitan households and all regional customers will receive a freeze.

Businesses will also benefit from the lower GRVs through a reduction in the ESL. The average ESL for metropolitan commercial properties will fall by around $127 and by around $169 for industrial properties.

Australia’s population figures up at the end of 2019

Based on newly released stats from the ABS, Australia’s total population at end of 2019 was 25,522,169, which was 349,800 or 1.4% higher than at the end of 2018. This growth was boosted by 70,200 (0.3%) in the final quarter of 2019. This higher end figure was made up of 39.8% natural increase and 60.2% overseas migration.

In Western Australia, the population ended 2019 at 2,639,100, 1.3% higher than 12 months previous and was comprised of 18,499 births and 18,862 overseas migrant arrivals. Net interstate migration saw 32,018 arrivals and 36,142 departures resulting in a net loss of 4,124.

With the current interstate and overseas border restrictions in place as a result of COVID-19, we are unlikely to see a similar increase in population this year due to the limited overseas migrant arrivals, however WA’s net interstate migration might improve with more people choosing to stay here thanks to the strong management of COVID-19 to date.

Business impacts survey highlights tough market conditions

Following a Business Impacts of COVID-19 survey by the ABS in June, 56% of surveyed construction industry businesses reported to be operating under modified conditions, the lowest percentage compared with all other industries.

A similar 56% of construction businesses reported a decrease in revenue compared to the same time last year, compared with 28% that reported no change and 13% reporting increased revenue.

From the businesses reporting a decrease in revenue, 40% reported between a 25%-50% decrease, followed by 27% of reporting a 25% or lower decrease, and 20% reporting between a 50%-70% decrease.

31% of construction industry businesses surveyed reported expectations that business operations could be supported by currently available cash on hand for more than 6 months, while 24% reported 1 to less than 3 months, and 15% reported 3 to less than 6 months.

Taking the above statistics into consideration, it is unsurprising that in the three months to May 2020 national job vacancies decreased by 124,500 (-46%), with national construction industry vacancies decreasing by 8,300 (-50%).

Western Australia experienced a decrease of 16,800 vacancies, representing a -39% decrease over the three month period and a -28% decrease over the same period last year.

This reduction in the number of job vacancies was accompanied by Australia’s seasonally adjusted estimate of employment decreasing by 227,700 people. This saw the national unemployment rate increase to 7.1%, however the underemployment rate dropped to 13.1% but the underutilization rate remained constant at 20.2%.

The WA job market saw further losses of 30,241 in May, following 65,167 in April and 8,642 in March, taking the state unemployment rate to 7.7% and underemployment to 12.9%.

Despite these large numbers, the figures were recorded prior to the introduction of Phase 2 relaxations by the State Government in mid-May, which were superseded on June 6 with the introduction of Phase 3 relaxations and followed by the announcement of the $444 million housing stimulus package the following day.

With the introduction of Phase 4 on Saturday and the potential introduction of Phase 5, which is set to remove all COVID-19-related restrictions on Saturday 18 July, there are strong hopes the Western Australian job market will be able to recover quickly.

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 Wednesday 15 July 2020:
    • Closing the loop: Waste reforms for a circular economy & review of the waste levy

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.