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UDIA defends development

A RECENT economic impact report has highlighted the State’s billion-dollar land development industry as a major employment generator and contributor to the economy.

The Urban Development Institute of Australia’s Economic Contribution of the Land Development in Western Australia Report, launched by Russel Perry last week in his final act as UDIA State president, is the first quantifiable study of the economic and employment benefits land development contributes to the State.

According to the report, the industry directly employs almost 3000 people and provides 10,100 jobs overall, yielding $264.8 million in associated wages and salaries.

During 2001-02 the industry generated housing lots to the value of $1.17 billion. On average the industry creates 9000 new lots and 14000 new dwellings annually.

At the launch of the report last week Dr Perry said the value of the industry was more than that of the oil and gas industry, and he hoped the report would highlight the importance of land development to the State’s economy.

“I believe we are treated as a group of land developers,” Dr Perry told WA Business News.

“We need to remove that perception. The fact is that land development is an industry.

“It is time land development is recognised by the State at all levels as an industry.”

Dr Perry said the industry was important because of the amount of employment it generated, in terms of the economic wealth it contributed to the State and the integral role it played in creating communities that provided environmental and social benefits to residents and the broader community.

He said the industry was keen to establish new partnerships with government to ensure there were not any unnecessary impediments to development, which could have a detrimental impact on the State’s economy and employment growth.

Coinciding with the UDIA launch was the State Government release of the Metropolitan Development Pro-gram: Urban Land Release Plan 2002-03 to 2006-07, based on in-formation gathered from private and government land developers.

According to the plan about 60,000 lots are expected to be created over the next five years, more than 40 per cent of them in Perth’s south-western suburbs.

But the State Government has reservations about Perth’s pattern of land development.

Planning and Infrastructure Mini-ster Alannah MacTiernan last week expressed concern about the accelerating pace of urban sprawl and the projected decrease of new lot development in inner and middle suburbs.

Ms MacTiernan said growth in established areas ensured better use of taxpayer funded infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools, roads and public transport.

“We need to do what we can to boost activity in these areas and slow down growth on the urban frontier,” she said.

“As the city sprawls, there are environmental, economic and social costs.”

Department of Land Administration figures have highlighted a resurgence in subdivisional lots created for February 2003, which showed a 74 per cent increase over the corresponding period for 2002 and was more than double the average monthly figure for last year.

FPDSavills divisional director of residential Marcus Gilmore said the figures showed there was continued demand for land in WA and that the State’s property market was unlikely to go through a boom-bust cycle.

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