Plan now to avoid housing shortages in next boom

It sounds strange now to write about housing shortages in WA but two big announcements this week compel us to do just that.

The agreement by the WA and Federal governments on a $3.2 billion State infrastructure boost and a Perth City Deal will provide communities and businesses in WA with greater certainty that roads, rail lines and public spaces will be created to support new housing and employment centres that are being planned across Perth and regional WA.

The property industry in WA was waiting for these announcements to provide the confidence that major infrastructure projects like METRONET will proceed and the associated station precinct developments will go ahead.

Preparing places in Perth’s inner and middle-distance suburbs for high and medium density housing precincts need to be planned years ahead.  When the next real estate boom inevitably happens in WA there will be plenty of land ready to build a diversity of housing options, including inner-metro precincts and new communities on the fringes of the city.

The sobering news this week was a Bureau of Statistics report that WA’s rate of population growth has flipped from being twice the national average to barely half the national growth clip. 

For much of the last decade WA’s grew at around three percent annually, one of the fastest growth rates in the world.  But in typical post-boom fashion WA’s growth slipped to less than one percent in the last 12 months. 

This is not unusual and what inevitably happens in WA is a period of under-supply of new housing which exposes us to severe shortages when the next boom occurs.  You can see this happening now, particularly in Perth’s apartment sector.

Therefore, the announcement of a Perth City Deal is important.  The thing about a City Deal is that it commits all three layers of government to a long-term plan to lay the ground work for future growth needs.  This will be the first City Deal covering an entire metro area and we’ve already been told that enabling METRONET precincts will be its focus.

Getting broad government agreement for future proofing growth is crucial because it is very tempting in WA to avoid the hard work of preparing communities for long-term growth after a boom.  And then scrambling to create new land when markets recover.

This is a theme the Property Council will repeat all the way to the signing of Perth’s landmark City Deal.