Property industry supports Design WA, raises affordability concerns

Stock image.
Stock image.

INDUSTRY response to the Design WA guidelines has been generally supportive, but concerns have been raised about affordability.

UDIA WA chief executive Tanya Steinbeck welcomed Design WA as a concept that would lift the standard of built form across the board and ensure quality of living standards for WA residents.

“There are many developers in WA who are already raising the bar for design and liveability in new apartment projects, however there are a small number of projects that don’t meet the high standards that the rest of the industry is setting,” she said.

“Therefore it is beneficial to have a consistent standard and expectation across the board.”

WA Property Council executive director Sandra Brewer said the benefit of the new policies was the community would have greater confidence in the quality and suitability of developments to their surroundings.

“Urban infill and increased density are fraught topics in Perth’s established suburbs, and one of the solutions lies in the delivery of good design,” she said.

“Ensuring developments are unique and appropriate to their environment will result in greater community acceptance for high density living and housing infill, which is necessary as Perth’s population grows.”

However, Ms Steinbeck said affordability was not addressed by any of the 10 principles and it was concerning given there were a raft of requirements in the Apartment Design Guide that were going to add additional costs to apartments.

“We need to make sure that we are keeping in mind the NSW experience, where research has shown when a similar policy was introduced, it added an average of $150,000 to the cost of an apartment,” she said.

“That is just not fair or viable for many new home buyers.”

Blackburne managing director Paul Blackburne said the percentage of people living in apartments will roughly double from 15 per cent to 30 per cent in the next 10 years and more apartments would need to be built to meet this demand.

“(The guidelines) will help give more clarity to councils and developers on how to assess good design for apartments and help stop badly designed apartments getting built,” he said.

“It does mean that in some cases prices will be higher, however hopefully it leads to better apartment designs for all.”

Finbar managing director Darren Patemen said if Design WA was applied by responsible authorities in a strict manner then it was very likely there would be cost impacts.

“Many of the specific policy measures were derived from the eastern states that up until recently were operating in very strong property market conditions that could absorb additional development costs,” he said.

“The WA residential market is in steady recovery phase and not able to absorb additional costs without directly flowing through to apartment prices. “

Mr Patemen said an economic analysis of the cost impacts of Design WA was carried out by an eastern states consultant but the detailed analysis and results were not shared widely with industry to provide comment.

“A fundamental policy change like Design WA should have been stress-tested with evidence-based research by all stakeholders, including the industry that is expected to operate within this new environment, to ensure that affordability impacts are properly understood,” he said.