No Time for State to Delay Medium Density Housing Changes

Published on:
Friday, 30 June, 2023
Planning and Building

Most infill development in Western Australia is medium density, with duplex and triplex developments becoming common place across Perth and larger regional centres.
However, there has been growing concerns in recent years around the design quality and internal liveability of this common housing product.
Small bedrooms, overuse of highlight windows, small unusable private courtyards, and a tendency to remove all significant trees prior to development, are just some of the design outcomes the new Code is seeking to reverse.
Research undertaken by SGS Economics for the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage in 2020 quantified the broader community and societal cost for every new business as-usual medium density dwelling constructed in Western Australia compared to a dwelling built under the new advertised Medium Density Code, being an additional $29,200.
Extrapolated across WA, new medium density housing was calculated at $117 million in additional costs to the community as a whole each year, if there is no change in the planning framework.
It is acknowledged that the housing and development industry is currently experiencing a period of great uncertainty, and challenging market conditions can be expected for some time to come.
However, these challenges and industry concerns must be balanced with the public benefit that will accrue from improved built form and cost of living outcomes as a result of the Medium Density Code’s policy settings.
As a constructive partner in planning reform, the Local Government sector is working hard to prepare for the gazettal of the Medium Density Code on 1 September this year.
Local planning frameworks require updating to align with the new Code and transitional arrangements to allow assessment of proposals under the new Code, ready for determination after the gazettal date are already in place.
WALGA believes the current transitional arrangements provide sufficient time and certainty for both Local Governments and applicants

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