03/07/2007 - 22:00

Action on SW affordability

03/07/2007 - 22:00

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Residential developers in the Shire of Augusta Margaret River may have to provide lots for sale to first-home buyers under new planning guidelines being considered by the state government.

Action on SW affordability

Residential developers in the Shire of Augusta Margaret River may have to provide lots for sale to first-home buyers under new planning guidelines being considered by the state government.

The move by the local shire to ensure more affordable lots in all future subdivisions is in response to community concerns about a lack of affordable housing, inflated land prices and projected population growth.

Shire president Steve Harrison said the government was expected to make its recommendation on the proposed District Planning Scheme amendment to council shortly, which, if approved, would require developers to demonstrate how they would provide affordable housing before their projects are granted planning approval.

Mr Harrison said council was raising the bar for developers, which would ensure the provision of more affordable housing in new estates along with sustainable water and energy solutions and local employment opportunities.

“Whether that be providing a certain number of cottage size blocks, or a number of lower priced lots, there are different ways to approach it [affordable housing],” he said.

“We’re not saying ‘you must approach it this way’, rather we would like developers to tell us how they hope to achieve it.”

The proposed amendment has emerged from two years of work by council on planning strategies for the towns of Margaret River and Augusta, which aim to manage and guide future planning and sustainable development of urban areas over the next 30 years.

The strategies are part of an over-aching spatial development framework being developed, which comprises detailed village and hamlet strategies, major infrastructure developments, land-use directives and a settlement hierarchy to ensure phased development.

Mr Harrison said the framework was vital to the long-term sustainability of the shire, given its current population of nearly 13,000 was forecast to almost triple in size over the next 25 years.

Despite the planning amendment being some months away, council is already recommending developers tow the line.

Melbourne-based developer CraneCorp is preparing to release 17 lots designated for first-home buyers, from a total of 116 lots at its Ironstone Estate at Cowaramup.

Those interested in the cheaper lots of between $240,000 and $255,000 must meet a set of criteria, including being locals and or locally employed.

Property Council of WA senior policy adviser Lino Iacomella said that, while the Margaret River region had a major housing affordability problem, attempts to provide more affordable housing lots through tools such as ‘inclusionary zoning’ only complicated the operation of the market.

“We’d rather see the market itself deliver the product. Buyers will be provided with more product diversity and a greater range of prices if more land is made available,” he said.

“The market needs to be encouraged through planning and tax incentives and the reduction of the large regulatory costs placed on land.”

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