With Perth’s population forecast to reach 3.5 million by 2031, debate on Perth’s future housing needs is stepping up a gear. The debate is being driven by the need for more affordable housing, the undesirability of costly urban spread and the rapid growth in empty nesters.
The truth is we need more affordable high and medium density accommodation, which in Perth currently accounts for just 25% of all available housing. There is no doubt the demand is there. In 2013, a Department of Housing report said that twice as many people wanted to live in inner Perth than those currently accommodated. Fast forward 5 years, and a visit to inner Perth will clearly show how many people, including families, now live in high density accommodation in the area.
The introduction of higher density hubs near train stations is playing a big role in helping to make residents more comfortable with high density housing in the suburbs.
And it’s not restricted to train hubs. Joondalup’s local infill program is already in full swing and Midland and Rockingham have moved forward with the construction of new apartment complexes.
It’s clear that councils, Government, Landcorp and private developers have a big role to play in improving affordability by boosting infill’s share of new dwellings well beyond the current 34%. A number of councils are already leading the way in identifying areas suitable for infill housing. They include Stirling, Cockburn, and Bayswater.
Councils need to be determined, consultative and prepared to trade-off to get the majority of residents to accept high and medium density developments. Trade-offs would include traffic calming measures and green leisure areas.
On another level, the WA Planning Commission is playing an important complementary role. It recently completed a successful trial to improve the affordability of homes in Ellenbrook. As a result, it now wants the minimum size of green title blocks to be cut from 100m² to 80m² to accommodate terrace housing, which could provide quality, affordable housing options in suburbs with an R80 zoning.
So, it seems a trend to more low and medium density housing is already under way and it’s not fanciful to expect the momentum to increase as people become more accustomed to the idea, particularly as younger generations, faced with affordability issues, make their voices heard.