A shortage of land, or economic sense?

This story amused me, doubly so because it was being shared approvingly by people on Facebook:

WA’s port city is rolling out a new breed of infill that will cap house size at 120sqm, encourage smaller homes of less than half that size and mandate green space to stop the loss of trees to infill.

At 120sqm the maximum house size will be less than half the size of the average home being built in WA.

The plan is initially earmarked for pockets in Fremantle, White Gum Valley, Hilton, O’Connor, Samson and Beaconsfield. However, if successful it could be rolled out more widely.

A ban on building houses over 120sqm in a given neighbourhood will absolutely delight those who already own houses larger than this, as their value will increase considerably. I wonder how many people behind this decision stand to benefit in such a manner?

City of Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt said it would be “radically different” from conventional infill.

“It’s very smart planning and at the heart of it is trying to match what is Fremantle’s existing demographics with what we’re building,” Dr Pettitt said.

Do you think Dr Pettitt, who draws a salary from the taxpayer, lives in a home smaller than 120sqm?

“Your average house size is 2.2 people but you’re building on average a house that is four or five bedrooms. We’re keen to get young couples and young families into the area.

So why isn’t the market providing them? I don’t know, but I suspect a plethora of planning rules and regulations make building small houses economically unattractive. If only a small percentage of the overall costs of a new house is in the land, materials and construction, why not build bigger houses which can be sold at a higher price?

“Your average standard house in Fremantle is $800,000-plus, that’s pretty hard on an average income. But also we’re really keen on ageing in place. We’d love this to expand beyond Freo and for it to become the norm across the metropolitan area.”

As in the UK, house prices in Australia have rocketted beyond the reach of many people, especially youngsters, because of government policies intended to hoodwink the middle classes of a certain generation into thinking they are wealthy as a result of shrewd investment rather than dumb luck. Naturally, the solution is for the government to interfere further in the housing market by capping house sizes in certain neighbourhoods.

The maximum size of any dwelling would be capped at 120sqm but Dr Pettitt said they would also encourage homes of 50sqm.

All the joys of living in a something the size of a Paris studio, in an Australian backwater. What’s not to like?

Car bays would be capped at one for every new house and two for existing houses.

What’s this got to do with making housing affordable? Nothing whatsoever, it’s just some green shite tacked on the end by lunatics in the local government who want to virtue signal. What it means is any household where both adults work will be put off buying one of these new houses. Bear in mind this scheme is supposed to help young couples.

Ms McKenzie, who is working on a prototype for compact, affordable and moveable housing, said different solutions were needed to address Perth’s urban sprawl.

“The consumption of land here in Perth is far greater than anywhere in the world,” she said. “I take my hat off to Fremantle: they’re doing something and it’s new and it’s different.”

There was an old joke that the Saudis were so dysfunctional they could run out of sand. I think it’s time to update that joke to Western Australians running out of land.

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15 thoughts on “A shortage of land, or economic sense?

  1. Freo is a nuthouse full of raving Greens, hippies and commies. They don’t like business or business-minded people there at all. No surprise to hear of fresh government interference lunacy in an already distorted market there!
    The whole of Perth and (from what I hear) every large city in Australia suffers from the same syndrome to a degree though – the real estate leeches propogandise that buyers are looking for smaller blocks & smaller houses, when the reality is that the greed of property specufestors & developers, and the addiction of state governments & councils to ever-increasing stamp duty & rates, has led us to the point where we have some of the most expensive land in the world (in a country with almost the lowest population density i.e. most land per capita), so most buyers can only afford a postage-stamp-sized block, regardless of what they actually want. Madness.

  2. “There was an old joke that the Saudis were so dysfunctional they could run out of sand. I think it’s time to update that joke to Western Australians running out of land”

    The delight being that they really have managed to achieve this.

    There was a property developer in NZ pushing ‘tiny homes’, 10 mins on google showed his home address as a 6,000m2 waterfront house in a very nice spot. Revealed preferences and all that….

  3. There was a property developer in NZ pushing ‘tiny homes’, 10 mins on google showed his home address as a 6,000m2 waterfront house in a very nice spot.

    Just like the award-winning architects that foist brutalist monstrosities on British towns, extolling the virtues of Soviet-style housing to the poor who have no choice but to live there. They themselves live in a £1m thatched farmhouse in a sleepy village in the home counties, of course.

  4. The Ozzies have indeed gone loonie lefty. For a country that relies economically on primary production that is pretty much a suicide plan.

    If it’s any consolation, they aren’t as completely irredeemably far gone as Canada. That they elected pajama boy Trudeau to lead them tells us all that they haven’t really thought the future through much.

  5. If it’s any consolation, they aren’t as completely irredeemably far gone as Canada.

    A subject that came up here quite recently. It’s a close-run thing, all right.

  6. “Ms McKenzie, who is working on a prototype for compact, affordable and moveable housing”

    Is there any convincing reason for why the houses should be moveable? I can see it might make sense eg in a mining context where you might not want to establish permanent habitation at a station that’s only going to be exploited for a couple of years. But I’d rather live in a place with solid foundations, myself.

  7. Freo is a nuthouse full of raving Greens, hippies and commies. They don’t like business or business-minded people there at all. No surprise to hear of fresh government interference lunacy in an already distorted market there!

    I live in Fremantle, and couldn’t agree more. This is a solution in search of a problem. Unlike in Sydney and Melbourne, Perth house prices have been moribund for the last 6-7 years although starting to climb again. The average house price in Fremantle isn’t cheap, but Fremantle is by Perth standards one of the more desireable places to live. It’s like complaining working Londoners can’t afford to live in Kensington (slight exaggeration). Moreover, there are sh*tloads of new apartments of the 60m2 to 150m2 size under construction in any case. Restricting new house size just means that once the 2nd child has arrived, off you move to a new suburb.

    The main problem with the Australian property market is rapid population growth, largely confined to the major cities, while releasing new land for development takes years and costs a fortune even before any construction takes place.

  8. Ms McKenzie, who is working on a prototype for compact, affordable and moveable housing…

    Will anyone have the nerve to tell her that trailers have already been invented?

  9. Its the price of land, not the size of the house. These idiots need to identify the problem before the come up with an answer. There is so much data available on the price of land in Australia being the problem that you have to be wilfully ignoring the issue to come up with house size as a solution.

    As others have identified, the price of land is influenced by the demand and supply factors, neither of which relate to house size or are under the full or even partial influence of the moonbeams in Fremantle council. Except perhaps zoning rules.

    Wankers.

  10. They do need to figure something out re: housing in Perth. The city keeps expanding north- and southward, but all the jobs are still in the centre. 20 yrs from now people are gonna have to start commuting by helicopter.

  11. Tim Newman

    “Just like the award-winning architects that foist brutalist monstrosities on British towns, extolling the virtues of Soviet-style housing to the poor who have no choice but to live there. They themselves live in a £1m thatched farmhouse in a sleepy village in the home counties, of course.”

    Alexei Sayle wrote a wonderful short story called “Richard with a little r”, which was a skewering of this type of architect, mostly Richard Rogers of course. His short stories are well worth the time.

  12. Patrick:

    That they elected pajama boy Trudeau to lead them tells us all that they haven’t really thought the future through much.

    Hmm…not all of us. Out here in the wacky west, the vapid city dwellers love the greenies and socialists; but those of us who have real jobs still vote Conservative. Canada is a special (nut)case. Whichever way the west votes has absolutely no influence on election results. The result is decided before any province west of Ontario has even voted.

  13. The left seems to be pursuing two contradictory aims: unlimited immigration AND strict limits on building in the name of environmentalism. But if you’re going to let them in, you’ve got to build. The alternative is what we’re seeing now: unaffordable housing and people living in places not much bigger than rabbit hutches.

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