The Perth branch of the Property Council is calling for a doubling of residential numbers in its CBD, as the city struggles with record commercial vacancies of around 25 per cent.

The idea is reminiscent of the Melbourne 3000 planning policy in the early 1990s, which transformed the CBD from a 9-to-5 worker hub into a 24-hour city by adding 10,000 new dwellings through the adaptive re-use of old office buildings and incentivising new buildings.

PCA WA executive director Lino Iacomella said a doubling of residential numbers was needed to counteract commercial vacancies, provide CBD workers housing in the area and reduce congestion.

Lino Iacomella, PCA WA

“Of the 200,000 people that work in Perth CBD, less than 20,000 live within the boundaries of the City of Perth,” Mr Iacomella said.

“The exodus of people leaving the CBD at the end of each working day creates traffic chaos on the freeways and leaves the CBD lacking the night time economy that makes other major cities.”

He said while the City of Perth had plans to promote the CBD as a vibrant residential areas, more needed to be done.

“The recent new stock of apartments and medium to high-density housing is limited to opposite ends of the CBD and there has not been enough new supply to make Perth’s residential population anywhere near its target,” Mr Iacomella said.

“We need more, better quality and affordable housing options spread around the Perth CBD to create new precincts that attract people and new businesses into the CBD.”

He said if the CBD was to compete with the suburbs, the new government needed to implement a range of reforms, including:

  • introducing stamp duty concessions for off-the-plan apartments similar to a traditional house and land package
  • fast tracking the Strata Title reforms to enable community titles and improve strata management
  • full private certification of building permits
  • legislating to allow local authorities to bring building owners, tenants and financiers together to agree to loan terms to enable finance arrangements to upgrade old and vacant CBD buildings

“These reforms are now urgent if we are to create the right commercial, retail and residential offerings to encourage people to move into the CBD,” Mr Iacomella said.

The reforms are also similar to calls made by the Queensland branch of the PCA in 2014 when Brisbane was struggling with higher than usual commercial vacancy rates.

It wanted to transform underperforming commercial buildings into residential apartments after a “flight to quality” saw extremely high vacancy rates in B and C grade buildings.

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