Is it really infill vs greenfields?

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Samantha Reece recently MC’d the Future Directions event for the Property Council on the infill vs greenfields debate.

The event came hot on the heels of the Property Council’s Perth Design report which stated that infill only cost the State Government $50,000 while greenfields costs were closer to $150,000.

On the panel were a mix of greenfields and apartment developers as well as LGA representatives and as such the discussion became quite lively.

Certainly the greenfields developers rebuked Property Council’s statements re the cost of outer ring development and reinforced that often they are the ones that in fact incur the costs of infrastructure.  They also felt that WA led the rest of the nation in terms of the calibre of communities and liveability.

On the other side of the fence, Mayor Brad Pettitt of Fremantle Council spoke of the need to accelerate infill in their CBD in order to sustain the businesses and restaurants, which suffered outside of the non-peak weekend periods.

Certainly Fremantle Council appears to have fully embraced infill (unlike other LGA’s) and their focus on delivering excellence rather than ordinary should be truly encouraged!

But Brad also acknowledged that homes in greenfields could also reflect sustainability principles and Josh Byrne’s home, which is 10 star rated and built for the same cost as an average home, is living proof of this principal.

Interestingly Brad raised the point that maybe we should rate homes with the same star rating as dish washers and fridges, and that this may be the starting point for raising awareness of the true costs of operating an unsustainable home.

However what became quite clear from the panel, was that choice was important.

While Psaros have made it their trademark to focus on sustainable apartments, the likes of Stockland and Cedar Woods are dealing with a variety of buyers and budget certainly is an influencing factor.

Hence both companies seek to have a variety of builders for their projects and while some residents may rate sustainability highly – others may not – and that is their prerogative.

There certainly was a feeling that State Government needs to play a stronger leadership role in championing infill and sustainability and once again Brad felt that if some Councils continued to advocate “the no change” status, that in fact they should be penalised by reduced allocation of State and Federal funding.

Overall there is a growing consciousness of the need to demonstrate best practice and while WA may be still behind the eight ball, times are a changing.  Watch this space!

Many thanks to the panel Dr Brad Pettitt (Mayor Fremantle Council), Col Dutton (Stockland), Chiara Pacifici (Psaros) and John Silla (Cedar Woods).

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