Access Housing has identified housing affordability to be a problem in Fremantle

Access Housing chief executive Garry Ellender.
Access Housing chief executive Garry Ellender.

HOUSING affordability in Fremantle continues to be a major concern, with prices now comparable to Sydney, according to the chief executive of a local not-for-profit organisation.

Access Housing chief executive Garry Ellender said well-established suburbs like Fremantle were not affordable for low to moderate-income earners.

He said prices in Fremantle were comparable to Sydney, with the median house price now above $800,000. ‘With Fremantle apartment units also $80,000 more expensive than the Perth metropolitan area average, the home ownership dream has become a housing affordability nightmare,’ he said.

The City of Fremantle will decide later this month whether to reduce the mandatory proportion of affordable housing in inner-city developments from 15 per cent to 10 as part of Local Planning Scheme 4. Mr Ellender said rather than reducing the requirement, developers needed to be more innovative with their designs.

‘High property prices create more assured development profits, a proportion of which can be directed towards cross-subsidising the delivery of affordable housing outcomes,’ he said.

‘It is important that the port city of Fremantle, with its rich history and traditional cosmopolitan population, does everything in its power to ensure that it retains its diverse population mix and affordable housing is a crucial part of the city’s community fabric.’

Fremantle planning projects and policy manager Paul Garbett said City research had shown developers would gain little or no financial return to cover the costs of including the 15 per cent requirement, which would make those developments unviable.

‘The reduction to 10 per cent is intended to retain the provision of affordable housing but achieve a more proportionate balance between this requirement and the overall costs and returns associated with a new development,’ he said.

‘The developer and the market would determine the product and cost of the remaining housing.’