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Co-operation key to urban infill projects 09/05/2016

The future of Perth and how we develop is a focus for government and private industry as we consider how we are going to effectively accommodate a growing population in affordable and appropriate housing.

The future of Perth and how we develop is a focus for government and private industry as we consider how we are going to effectively accommodate a growing population in affordable and appropriate housing.

While urban infill is a critical component to that future housing supply, it is important that we address some of the challenges that are involved in delivering infill projects, particularly those that are a barrier to providing value for money product to the end consumer.

Issues that developers need to consider when embarking on an infill project can include initial acquisition costs, potential remediation of contaminated sites, heritage listing, infrastructure upgrade requirements and existing residents’ acceptance or response to a planned project.

While these challenges may be significant for some projects, they are not impossible to overcome and we are seeing various innovative ways that developers are meeting the challenge of urban infill on a range of projects.

One successful example of an infill project that has overcome major contamination issues as well as incorporated the significant heritage of the site into the overall development is the UDIA award-winning Eliza Ponds Estate.

It is on the former Watsonia Factory site near Fremantle and the developers remediated the old factory ponds into a sustainable, permanent water body designed to minimise the mobilisation of legacy contaminants.

The ponds are now a major focal point for the development and not only provide an excellent example of contaminated sites remediation but a case study on how to integrate a site’s extensive history into a contemporary project.

Another successful example of urban infill overcoming another common challenge — local opposition — is UDIA award-winner St Marks Apartments in Highgate.

The developer faced significant concern from local residents in regard to retention of the existing heritage building as well as how the apartments would gel with the low-level character of housing in the surrounding area.

An extensive consultation process and sympathetic design principles ensured a successful outcome for all involved. The success of urban infill development in Perth will be dependent on how government and industry work together to overcome challenges to achieve shared outcomes.

Infrastructure provision is one aspect that definitely requires a shared approach. The limitations of existing infrastructure must be acknowledged and the funding and forward planning put in place to ensure areas that are earmarked for higher densities are realistically able to accommodate an increase in residents.

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