Addressing the Missing Middle

Close to 300 guests attended yesterday’s UDIA Industry Breakfast themed Medium Density Development: Finding the missing middle.  A topic that has generated much interest and UDIA has been pursuing in terms of seeking a clear policy from government on facilitating more medium density development in Perth.

Steven Rowley, Director, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, provided a comprehensive overview of the importance and complexities of delivering medium density in WA.  He reinforced that the issue is around improving choice and affordability for home buyers in WA and ensuring that the infrastructure and leadership is in place to deliver.

David MacLennan, Assistant Director General, Department of Planning, Lands & Heritage, discussed the government’s role in encouraging medium density and also launched the consultation period for the draft position statement for housing on lots less than 100m².

Jon Smeulders, Executive Director, Georgiou Developments then provided a case study on delivering The Pocket in Claremont. Jon provided a particularly interesting insight into the buyers of The Pocket, including that 35% of buyers were from within a 1km radius of the project and 60% were from within 2km.  This is a great representation of how many down sizers are seeking smaller homes within their local area.

There was some interesting discussion during the panel that followed, including debate around what actually constitutes medium density development and how it can be defined.

The draft position statement and Urbis’ National Market Summary on Small Lot Housing can be found here

UDIA’s media release on micro lots can be found here

Community Titles a step closer in WA

In our recent submission on the draft Community Titles Bill 2018, UDIA congratulated Landgate on their commitment to delivering Strata Title reform in WA and introducing legislation to enable community titles.

One particular concern that UDIA did highlight with regard to the draft legislation is the high level of detailed and specific requirements that are included.  We believe that the details are best located in regulations that can be more readily reviewed and updated as required.

UDIA also made several more specific recommendations that can be found in our submission here

Westport Reference Group: progress to date  

UDIA is a member of the Westport Reference Group established to provide a pool of specialist advice and industry input into the establishment of a final Westport: Port and Environs Strategy. The Group met today to discuss feedback received during the recent consultation period.

While the summary report is currently with the Minister for approval, UDIA can advise that some of the areas that feedback focused on include:

  • Addressing short-term congestion around the Fremantle Inner Harbour;
  • Identifying opportunities for development in North Fremantle;
  • Expanding on the diverse and significant environmental values of Cockburn Sound in future publications;
  • Utilising the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia framework;
  • Investigating public and private funding models;
  • Engaging independent facilitators during the delivery of the work packages; and
  • Identifying what the future governance model for additional port facilities could look like.

In terms of next steps, following the release of the Westport: What have you told us report in the next few weeks, ten packages of work have been identified and work streams comprising members from the Westport Taskforce will be established to deliver those packages.

A draft strategy is expected for release in 2019.

First home buyers hit five year high

Latest housing finance figures from the ABS show that the number of first home buyer commitments as a percentage of total owner occupied housing finance commitments rose to 18.0% in January 2018 from 17.9% in December 2017. This is the highest proportion in fives years.

Between December 2017 and January 2018, the average loan size for first home buyers fell $7,300 to $327,400. The average loan size for all owner occupied housing commitments fell $4,300 to $389,000 for the same period. More details here

UDIA requests further consultation on DCP 5.1

UDIA recently made a submission on behalf of members on the draft Development Control Polices (DCP) 1.1, 1.2 and 1.7 which were out for comment.  We highlighted the fact that while these policies are generally consistent with the current versions of the policy, more substantial changes are proposed to DCP 2.5 and 5.1.

UDIA is concerned that these two policies have been progressed without a substantive stakeholder consultation process and the policies lack clarity. Therefore we have suggested that they should be carefully reviewed to ensure consistency with the wider planning framework before they are adopted.

In providing our brief feedback on DCPs 1.1, 1.2 and 1.7, UDIA offered more substantial feedback on specific aspects of DCP 2.5 for consideration.  Given our significant concerns regarding the content of DCP 5.1 we have recommended that draft policy be withdrawn and a working group established to guide its revision.

You can see our final submission here.  UDIA will keep members up to date on progress.

The Effect of Zoning on Housing Prices

A recent report produced by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) analyses the impact of zoning regulations on housing supply and therefore prices. Overall, the report suggests that development restrictions (interacting with increasing demand) have contributed materially to the significant rise in housing prices in Australia’s largest cities since the late 1990s, pushing prices substantially above the supply costs of their physical inputs.

In particular, the authors say that as of 2016, zoning raised detached house prices 73 per cent above marginal costs in Sydney, 69 per cent in Melbourne, 42 per cent in Brisbane and 54 per cent in Perth.

A full copy of the publication can be downloaded here

Affordable Housing Action Plan

On Wednesday UDIA received a briefing from the Department of Communities outlining the proposed Affordable Housing Action Plan. Whilst the Plan has yet to be finalised, the Institute supports the need for a greater focus on producing more affordable housing particularly for first home buyers, down-sizers and others in need. UDIA will continue to liaise with Government on these issues and will update members as to the progress of the Action Plan.

Industry specific professional development opportunity

UDIA’s prestigious professional development program aimed directly at those working in the property industry is now open for enrolments.  This six day program, run across six weeks, is specifically designed for the Western Australian context and introduces participants to the various areas of knowledge required to operate effectively in our local residential development industry.

If you are interested in finding out more, visit our website here

Stand-alone Power Systems project demo

Energy Minister Ben Wyatt has provided approval for Western Power to conduct a demonstration for its Stand-alone Power Systems (SPS) project within part of the South West Interconnected Network.

The project will involve up to 60 locations in regional areas and builds on the trial of the technology on six properties in the Great Southern completed in 2017.

An open tender procurement process for the demonstration project will open soon, providing opportunities for companies to supply and install equipment and systems.

In parallel to Western Power’s SPS project, the Minister has also asked the Public Utilities Office to identify regulatory changes that will allow greater use of SPS as a low cost solution to poles and wires in delivering more reliable services in regional areas.

Information on the SPS demonstration project and procurement opportunities for interested WA companies is available at

PEF Scholarships announced

The Property Education Foundation announced this week that it had awarded its two annual scholarships to students Natasha Bowron (formerly Eaton Community College) and Thomas Egger (formerly Aquinas College).

Both studying Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Property Development and Valuation at Curtin University, the scholarship will now cover their tuition fees for the next three years.

More details here