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Infrastructure planning key to successful development 22/02/2017

It might not seem like the most exciting topic, but infrastructure planning and provision is a critical aspect to ensuring that urban development in our state is undertaken in the most efficient, effective and affordable way.

It might not seem like the most exciting topic, but infrastructure planning and provision is a critical aspect to ensuring that urban development in our state is undertaken in the most efficient, effective and affordable way. 

In fact, the lack of a sound infrastructure investment plan supported across the whole of government in Western Australia, along with a historical propensity for poor planning and coordination between government agencies has resulted in a severe underinvestment in infrastructure in our state.

It is all too often left to the private sector to pre-fund infrastructure such as water and power provisions for new urban development.  Those costs are then unfairly borne by new homebuyers as the costs are added to the price of new land and housing.

Following the upcoming state election, the government must focus attention on infrastructure planning and coordination as a priority to ensure that we can continue to plan and build successful cities across the state and achieve the right development outcomes for the community.

Clearly, government must contend with and balance competing infrastructure needs from a range of sectors including major resource projects, regional infrastructure as well as the needs of urban development. 

That is why we need to carefully plan and coordinate across the board and UDIA has specific recommendations to achieve this, including the establishment of a brand new independent infrastructure body that is responsible for a long-term (20 year) State Infrastructure Plan.

The plan would set out short, medium and long term funding timelines and prioritize funding for major infrastructure in growth areas, including bonding arrangements, and consider alternative funding mechanisms including payment over time through increases in energy and water delivery charges, public private partnerships or a tax increment financing framework.

It should also set out the government’s asset recycling program and facilitate the amalgamation of fragmented land holdings in priority areas.

An important aspect of infrastructure planning is working with the development industry to identify market demands and understand the future intentions of the development industry. 

This is so that the viability of projects can be agreed on and that information can be used to inform infrastructure investment priorities that are practical and are rolled out in coordination with the progress of urban development.

This is not just about establishing infrastructure in new areas. In existing areas earmarked for redevelopment, the capacity of ageing infrastructure needs to be addressed and upgraded to accommodate higher density building and therefore more demand. 

Overall, WA needs to make infrastructure a priority so that the social, economic and environmental sustainability of our urban areas is improved.

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