The West Australian Government has introduced interim measures for public open space contributions for infill while a broader review is undertaken, but has taken off the table any new changes that will “negatively impact the delivery of housing”.
Earlier this month, a preliminary policy on public open spaces was released for feedback, and it will remain open for input as the interim measures are put into effect.
In WA, new greenfield sites are required to allocate a minimum of 10 per cent of subdivided residential land for public open spaces, with contributions requested from land subdividers.
Under the new draft policy, however, a default 10 per cent public open space charge would exist across all urban areas with cash-in-lieu to apply if land cannot be ceded.
The property industry warned such a move would be an unwarranted tax on the industry and would stifle housing supply and affordability.
“I want to be clear,” Planning Minister John Carey said, “our government will not accept any new changes to the policy that will negatively impact the current delivery of housing projects or lifts delivery costs for projects, given the current heated construction market and the need for new housing projects to be completed.
“As Planning Minister, I want to assure the sector no new changes to the Public Open Space policy will be introduced that halt or create price increases to infill developments.”
As an interim measure, while consultation continues, amendments to local government delegations will be enacted shortly, to ensure the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) is the decision maker on any applications of public open space contributions for built strata applications in the Perth metropolitan area and the South West.
The WA Government said the current policy, unchanged since the 1950s means an inconsistent approach to public open space contribution requirements exist across various local governments. The government said the imposition of the contribution at the end of the building process is another issue which results in added cost to buyers.
Property Council WA Executive Director Sandra Brewer called the interim measure a “victory for common sense”.
“Perth already boasts an abundance of public open space, and infill development plays a vital role in preserving it, by enhancing the amenity of high-value areas, and reducing the necessity for urban sprawl and additional infrastructure development,” she said.
“We commend Minister Carey for taking decisive action and implementing these interim measures.
“The potential impact on housing affordability resulting from this policy cannot be underestimated. According to Property Council analysis, it could lead to a staggering 1.6-1.8 per cent increase in apartment sale prices and approximately 2.5 per cent for townhouses. But more concerningly, it adds significant cost at a time when projects are struggling to be financially feasible.
“While the value of preserving public open space is evident, the proposed policy not only fails to do this, it also overlooks the existing requirement for compulsory communal open space in apartment developments. Imposing the additional cost of public open space on new apartment buyers is an unfair burden on first home buyers and downsizers, and significantly increases development costs.
“Local governments are ill-equipped to accurately assess the public open space surplus or deficit as they often limit their considerations to their immediate boundaries, exclude regional open spaces like beachfronts and river parks in calculations, and give limited to no consideration to private or communal open spaces within new developments. It would be more appropriate for the WAPC to lead a robust process to make an assessment for the Perth metropolitan area.”