Housing diversity essential to WA’s long-term prosperity

 

By Damian Collins – REIWA President

With Western Australia’s population expected to grow from 2.5 million currently to between 4.4 and 5.6 million by 2050, there is much to be done to ensure our state can cater for this growth.

The State Planning Strategy 2050 forecasts up to 550,000 new dwellings will need to be built in Perth alone to meet this surge in population, and the household composition and age demographic will change considerably. We have a lot of work to do over the next 30 years to be able to meet this new and changing demand.

If you’ve been paying attention to some of the local planning debates that have been raging across Perth, you’ll know the issues of ‘density’ is a hot topic at the moment. The City of Nedlands in particular has featured quite prominently in the debate, with the local government hesitant to update its local planning scheme for fear of diminishing its area’s appeal.

While these concerns are understandable and steps should be taken to preserve the character, charm and heritage of these areas, Perth’s housing supply must evolve to accommodate our growing population.

The WA Government has made its intention clear on this matter, with Planning Minister Rita Saffioti recently announcing she would be intervening and drafting a new planning scheme for the City of Nedlands. While it’s unfortunate the WA Government has had to step in on a local government matter, it is critical our state’s housing supply diversifies to meet infill targets and improve liveability.

Increasing density doesn’t have to mean chopping up blocks or building giant high-rise apartments in the suburbs.

The City of Fremantle has led the way in this area, introducing amendments to its Local Planning Scheme that allow for increased medium-density housing within special control areas. The council’s innovative approach toward these amendments is an excellent example of how medium-density housing can be applied effectively in well-established suburbs without negatively impacting their appeal.

With Perth currently tracking well behind its infill target of 47%, every local government and city council must be proactive in improving its local planning schemes to enable a greater supply of housing diversity for residents so the WA Government’s infill aspirations can be achieved.

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