Changes will be made to the state’s planning system as part of an effort to boost housing affordability, the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) announced last week.
The changes follow the release of last year’s Planning Provisions for Affordable Housing Discussion Paper and are part of the State Government’s Affordable Housing Strategy, which outlines a commitment to deliver at least 20,000 new affordable housing options by 2020.
WAPC Chairperson Eric Lumsden said as the state’s population continued to grow, the need for affordable housing would remain a key priority.
“It is important that all Western Australians can find a home that meets their needs and which they can afford,” Mr Lumsden said.
Initial changes will enable local governments to introduce voluntary incentives into their planning schemes to encourage affordable housing in new developments. These may include planning concessions that reduce costs or improve development outcomes for developers and homebuyers.
Mr Lumsden said he expected these incentives to help improve the supply of affordable housing. “Housing affordability is a complex area, which is why we are adopting a staged approach that encourages the use of incentives in the first instance,” he said.
“The WAPC will assess the effectiveness of incentives and, if it proves necessary, will in the longer term investigate further potential policy approaches to deliver affordable housing supply.
“We will continue working closely with key stakeholders to develop a clear, consistent and feasible framework that complements recently announced planning reforms to improve overall land and housing supply.”
Joe Lenzo, Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia, welcomed the announcement and said that engaging with industry through incentives is the most effective long-term strategy to deliver more affordable living outcomes and housing diversity.
“Incentives that reduce costs and improve development outcomes will enable more affordable living options to be provided for the community,” Mr Lenzo said.
“The incentives need to be designed intelligently so that they increase a project’s feasibility and do not impact on its commercial viability, encouraging developers to embrace this opportunity.
“Tailoring incentives to prioritise housing diversity and supply along the city’s growth corridors is the key to providing Perth with more affordable living options.
“Affordability is more than just the sticker price. It is all well and good to throw up a cheap house in the middle of nowhere, but it will only cost that resident more in utility payments, access and cost of transport and proximity to employment.”
Source: News Release, Urbanalyst, 18 November, 2014