Higher Density Living Should Be Key WA State Election Issue

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The urgent need to accelerate higher density living in near city areas to alleviate Perth’s haemorrhaging rental crisis should be a key issue in the forthcoming State elections.

Thousands of new rental homes could be created in near city areas over the next five years if the State Government fast tracked plans for higher density living and gave tax incentives to developers and investors. Rents are now increasing at more than five times the rate of inflation in Perth due a chronic shortage of rental properties.

The average asking price for Perth house rentals increased by 15.4 per cent to $450 per week between September 2011 and September 2012, and preliminary figures are already showing a further rise of about $20 a week.

We desperately need to boost the supply of rental properties in inner and near city areas where people work rather than encouraging more traditional housing developments in fringe suburbs.

This growing desire for people to live in apartments has been highlighted by national building housing trends which shows that around one in every four new homes are now apartments.

The ABS figures for the last financial year show that units and apartments accounted for 26.4% of all residential building approvals in Australia compared to 18.4% during 2009/2010, however, Perth continues to substantially lag behind major Eastern States cities in the volume of apartments being developed as our housing strategy in reality is still focused on developing new estates in the outer suburbs which creates a commute problem for many residents who don’t live where they work.

Despite all of the grand vision statements from Government about encouraging higher density living, large parts of the near and inner city areas of Perth have under-utilised housing capacity.

The forthcoming State election gives both major political parties the opportunity to engage in an informed and mature debate about one of the key issues facing Perth – our soaring rental prices. To that end, inner and near city living should be a central focus of this debate and the people of Perth should not accept anything less than detailed plans as well as specific policy time frames to substantially boost our near city housing stock over the next five years.

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