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Missing Middle housing could provide more choice for buyers 13/05/2017

As I discussed in my column last week, affordability remains a critical issue for Perth. One of the avenues for providing more affordable housing options is increasing housing choice through a diversity of medium density development.

As I discussed in my column last week, affordability remains a critical issue for Perth. One of the avenues for providing more affordable housing options is increasing housing choice through a diversity of medium density development.

Medium density housing not only provides more affordable options for buyers, it also addresses a growing need to suit a broadening range of household demographics and lifestyles. Medium density housing development has been overlooked to a certain extent in many areas around Perth, particularly in the last fifty years or so, and this phenomenon is often referred to as the ‘Missing Middle’.

The Missing Middle is generally defined as low-rise, medium density development such as town houses and terraces, dual occupancies and manor homes.

The Missing Middle provides an option for buyers that is in between the larger, single homes and higher density apartment living. The low-rise style of building generally blends in with established housing types and can provide a less imposing option for increasing the population of an area.

The benefits of this type of development can include the need for less land to build more homes, increased sustainability potential due to a smaller urban footprint and options for smaller households and downsizers wanting to stay within the same local area as their family or established community network.

Medium density housing can also benefit the surrounding community as it provides the critical mass for more amenities and services within the local area, including provision of public transport such as a train station. Currently in Western Australia, there is a lack of an overarching government policy for the specific provision of medium density housing.

That means there is a lack of guidance for developers wanting to provide more medium density housing options to the market.

A lack of policy inevitably leads to lengthy negotiations and approvals processes that result in developments increasing in cost due to long timeframes and complicated processes.

The New South Wales Government is tackling this issue in its state, recently introducing a new State Planning Policy along with complementary Design Guidelines to promote good design outcomes and facilitate increased medium density development.

A clear policy environment encourages greater diversity in the type of housing product that we produce for residents, particularly in the grey area between our normal single residential house and apartments.

UDIA hopes to work with the Western Australian State Government to achieve a clear policy framework that will result in more choice for homebuyers in the coming years.

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