10/07/2007 - 22:00

Government on notice over affordability

10/07/2007 - 22:00

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The Urban Development Institute of Western Australia is calling for an urgent study of housing affordability, following the release of a state government report on WA’s land supply crisis.

The Urban Development Institute of Western Australia is calling for an urgent study of housing affordability, following the release of a state government report on WA’s land supply crisis.

UDIA WA executive director Debra Goostrey said the report was a good result from the first stage investigation into residential land supply and approval bottlenecks; however, the government needed to follow up the report with an in-depth look at affordability.

Among the recommendations made in the report, which the government has begun to implement, land release coordinator Marion Thompson urged government agencies to prioritise subdivision applications and clearances, reduce timeframes for clearances of subdivision conditions to six months, and introduce an electronic land approvals and tracking system to identify delays.

The report also recommended the government establish a ministerial council for land and housing supply and appoint an urban land development coordinator to expedite and streamline approvals for large subdivisions.

Ms Goostrey said along with adopting six month benchmark timeframes for development approvals, the government had to consider reducing taxes and charges given the average cost of a block of land had exceeded $300,000.

 “When considering the critical land shortages at the time Marion was appointed in 2006 and the terms of reference provided, we think it is a good stage one report,” she said. “They need to follow up on this now by looking at legislative change and tax reform.”

Ms Goostrey said as a result of the report, there had been a significant improvement in the understanding of the affordability issue by industry stakeholders, and it was hoped they could coordinate a better response through Ms Thompson’s work.

As part of its plan to tackle the bigger picture, it is understood the government is charging its ministerial council with the task of investigating housing affordability and taxation, as well as building closer ties to local government.

The government is also reportedly hosting an affordability summit later this month to consider various proposals, including the launch of a tax-free account for home deposits.

Ms Goostrey said the industry was already responding to affordability issues on a practical level by providing alternative land products and a range of options for consumers such as cottage blocks, 3x2 housing, higher density subdivisions and using alternative building materials.

“The industry’s response by itself is not enough. Both state and federal governments must engage together on this issue,” she said.

UDIA WA will be holding its own forum on August 17, where it will release the findings of a comprehensive national study on affordability.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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