WA Medium Density Code Update

4 September 2023

The deferral of the Medium Density Code has dominated the activity of the WA Branch in recent weeks. While the ACA supports the Government’s mission to increase housing supply, we are concerned that the deferral will reduce the supply of well-designed housing in suburbs and infill precincts.

Surveys conducted by the ACA, WALGA and the PIA indicate the extent of the impact: The WALGA survey revealed that almost 200 new medium density homes are now on hold, leaving businesses and homeowners stranded and Local Governments unable to approve lodged development applications designed under the policy. According to the WA Government, under the Code, the cost of three- and four-bedroom house and land packages would increase by $100,000. Local Governments, however, have reported a significant increase in applications for small and ancillary dwellings on development sites made possible under the Medium Density Code. Further, the quality of home design under the Code was very high.

The ACA survey revealed that infill businesses are showing a 75% increase in the demand for medium density projects. 85% of people who completed the PIA’s survey did not support the deferral of the Code. As a result of this feedback, we are advocating that the Government support this emerging market in the form of stamp duty rebates and infrastructure funds to enable new developments. Developers working with architects have experienced a fourfold increase in yield, which illustrates the potential of the medium density market for our members.

The ACA will join a peak bodies roundtable with the Planning Minister, Hon. John Carey on Friday 8 September. Our message at the roundtable will be clear:

  1. All efforts should be directed towards the swiftest resolution for projects impacted by the Medium Density Code deferral (Opt-in).
  2. The key peak bodies, including the ACA, AIA, PIA, Property Council and AILA, must communicate openly and regularly, and work together with Government to increase certainty and diversity in our industry.
  3. We will discuss the potential for Government support for medium density housing that could come in the form of social housing stimulus, infrastructure funds and stamp duty rebates to boost supply.

Our members are a crucial link in the medium density supply chain, and we thank you for your input into our survey and support on social media. We encourage you to share the above information with your networks and on your socials. We will continue to share updates and advocacy as we work together towards a more sustainable and diverse housing supply in Western Australia. If you would like to contribute to this effort, please get in touch by contacting Emma Brain at wa@aca.org.au.

Image: A view of Nollamara in 2000 (left) versus the same view in 2022 (right) after years of BAU infill development. Image credit: Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage, Nearmaps.