23/07/2008 - 22:00

Perth faces dwelling shortfall

23/07/2008 - 22:00

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High density development may be top of the state government's planning agenda, but the target for infill in Perth is overly ambitious and needs to be significantly downgraded, with the city likely to fall short 131,000 dwellings, according to a report fro

Perth faces dwelling shortfall
MISSED TARGET: Perth faces a shortfall of 131,000 dwellings, more than a half of its 222,000 target under the Network City plan.

High density development may be top of the state government's planning agenda, but the target for infill in Perth is overly ambitious and needs to be significantly downgraded, with the city likely to fall short 131,000 dwellings, according to a report from planning firm Urbis.

The study, commissioned by the Property Council of Australia's Residential Development Council, analyses the dwelling targets for new residential developments in the five state capital cities, and the amount of land required to achieve them.

Under the WA government's Network City plan, about 222,000 new units and apartments would need to be built in Perth over the next 24 years.

But according to the report, Perth will miss its target by 131,000 dwellings - the largest shortfall between infill target and built outcome of any state capital.

This is based on an average of 3,500 multi-unit dwellings being built each year over the next quarter century.

By comparison, Melbourne and Sydney are expected to miss their targets by half this amount (60,000 dwellings and 53,000 dwellings, respectively).

The report also estimates that 24 square kilometres of land in existing Perth suburbs would be required for infill, based on a variety of housing styles at an average height of four storeys.

This equates to a demand rate of more than 90 hectares per annum, to reclaim an area six times the size of Kings Park by the end of the 24-year planning period.

About 8,500 multi-unit dwellings would need to be approved each year - well above the 6,000 approvals achieved per annum in the past.

Urbis director Ray Haeren said there was little doubt the government's target would need to be reassessed.

"The intent is there, the general policy direction has been identified, but a lot more work needs to be done before we'll get the fundamental changes that are necessary," he said.

Mr Haeren said there were a number of factors which had led to a delay in specific targets being issued, including government staff shortages and community resistance.

"It requires a significant commitment, from a resourcing and political perspective, but the intent was that there would be targets set at a localised level," he said.

Despite the delay, several councils have begun to incorporate density targets into their planning.

Town of Cambridge mayor Simon Withers said the council was already working towards a 30 to 40 per cent increase in the town's 10,000 dwellings.

"In a way, we don't need the [target] numbers because everyone knows we need an increase in density," Mr Withers said.

However, he said there was concern about the pressure that would be placed on infrastructure following a significant increase in population.

"It's a good thing, and older suburbs have a responsibility to take on more infill, but it also creates stress on infrastructure," Mr Withers said.

A spokesperson for the WA Planning Commission said the release of density targets for individual councils had been delayed due to staffing problems, with the final numbers likely to be released late this year.

She said there had been no major revision of any element of the Network City project to date.

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