Infill housing vital for city

Taelor PeluseyBusselton Dunsborough Times
Busselton’s population continues to boom and the housing market is keeping up with demand - for now.
Camera IconBusselton’s population continues to boom and the housing market is keeping up with demand - for now. Credit: Supplied

WA’s peak real estate body says infill housing within town centres will be key to supporting Busselton’s booming population after Census data revealed the region is growing at 2.5 times the rate of the rest of Australia.

The 2016 Census showed the Busselton local government area was continuing its trend of rapid growth, with populations increasing by about 20.9 per cent from 2011, marking a jump of about one per cent from the previous results.

This is about double that of the rest of WA and even faster than the nationwide average, which sits about 8.8 per cent.

Housing figures also hurtled ahead, with the region welcoming 16 per cent more dwellings, compared with 10.6 per cent for WA and 7.3 per cent Australia-wide.

Real Estate Institute of WA South West councillor Joe White told the Times the housing market was keeping up with demand but he believed a different approach would be needed in the next five years.

“Land supply on the outskirts of town is limited, so higher-density infill development will be a game changer,” he said.

“There will be a move to people living in well-serviced inner CBD apartments.”

Changes to the City of Busselton’s local planning scheme, which would allow retail and residential premises in the CBDs, are still waiting for the State Government’s tick of approval.

The Times reported in August that a verdict from then planning minister Donna Faragher could be delivered as soon as November, but seven months and a change of Government later, there is still no answer.

The City did not know when a decision was expected.

Mr White said the changes would transform the Busselton and Dunsborough CBDs and widen housing options in the region.

Busselton Mayor Grant Henley, also a supporter of infill developments, said the “incredible growth” remained in line with projections and the City was well-positioned to cater for it.

He said the growth had underpinned council decisions over the past decade.

“This is reflected in our long-term planning documents and sustained investment in capital projects like the foreshore upgrades, CBD revitalisation and airport expansion,” Cr Henley said.

The Census data showed rent and mortgage prices for the region had sat with the WA and nationwide averages since 2001 but the region continued to have double the unoccupied dwellings.

Mr White attributed the figure to a higher proportion of holiday homes and believed the Census results were “overall good news”.

“I think the biggest positive is one you can’t measure,” he said.

“If you’re in a growing town, there’s growing opportunities.”

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