The numbers have it – why the proposed changes to Scarborough should be embraced

You may have seen the recent article in the West Australian outlining the research undertaken by 3 Oceans on the Scarborough foreshore with 890 respondents.

This research sought to determine the level of support or opposition to their proposed 43 and 35 storey developments on the corner of Scarborough Beach Rd and West Coast Hwy.

Not surprisingly, overall 63% of the respondents supported the proposal and this was mirrored regardless of whether it was a Scarborough based resident, City of Stirling or Perth based resident.

The number one reason for wanting the proposal to proceed?  Respondents felt the area needed a revamp (56%), it would bring in more tourists (44%), it would create more jobs (32%) and it would be good for local business (31%).

The Scarborough area has languished somewhat for close to 20 years and this has been directly attributed to previous governments’ reticence to support density.  But after spending $100 million on the Scarborough foreshore, this area is now ripe for ongoing investment and it is critical that the current Government embraces the proposed changes to allow the revamp of Scarborough to truly come into play.

Just like Hillary’s Boat Harbour, Graham Farmer tunnel and Elizabeth Quay, there has been resistance from a small vocal proportion of the community.  And yet once delivered, the benefits have been both recognised and celebrated – and at PropertyESP we can’t help feel that this will be the case for Scarborough as well.

The fact is, as a developer, if you want to hear the honest views of the mass majority then you have to be the one to action it.  3 Oceans took the bold step of hitting the ground to hear people’s opinions and by taking this courageous step they were rewarded.

The weight of this community support is undoubtedly invaluable.

If you too would like to strategize about your upcoming project and how to counter the negative minority voice, then contact Sam at PropertyESP – because as many in the property sector know – this is our forte!

Dare to change

PropertyESP attended the Committee for Perth lunch last week which was delving into the topic of density.

The guest speakers were Emma Booth from North Sydney Council and Associate Professor Julian Bolleter from the Australian Urban Design Research Centre at The University of Western Australia.

North Sydney Council has just undertaken a significant town planning exercise to commence urban renewal in St Leonards, which is just a ten minute train ride from Sydney CBD.  Currently the St Leonards area has a mix of high rise options ranging from 2 through to 16 storeys.

I thought one of the most interesting points raised by Ms Booth was that the Council had been so fearful of community backlash over density during the 1980/1990’s that the area in fact had stood still, to the point that the current community perception was that this locale was slightly dirty and dull.

When a neighbouring council approved a 34 storey redevelopment on the St Leonards boundary, this catalysed the Council into action and they identified potential sites for renewal which were outdated and felt to be an eyesore.

The resulting urban rejuvenation identified 3ha of land and the Council took a bold step by agreeing to a design which saw the infill start at 3-6 storeys before then stepping up to 12-16 storeys and then finally 18-40 storeys.

The Council was keen to ensure that these developments were a mix of residential and commercial so there would be sufficient population to sustain the businesses.

In conjunction with this increased density, the Council undertook to upgrade parks and community infrastructure, and introduce other elements such as innovation hubs and day care centres.

There is no doubt that there were many WA Councils in the room hanging onto Ms Booth’s words because they too are about to undergo urban rejuvenation as a result of Colin Barnett’s mandate.

And we can all identify areas, such as Scarborough, that are long overdue for urban rejuvenation but which have stood still because of the fear of community backlash.

Infill is part of WA’s future – and at some stage we are going to have to be bold about how we move forward otherwise our communities will turn on us – in part because they feel their areas are outdated and dull!

As the saying goes, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.  The question is – are our Councils or Government prepared to get in the kitchen and start cooking?

River and Ocean Views Command a Premium, but there’s more to it than that

Perth has long had a love affair with the Swan River and its wonderful beaches, and that is strongly reflected in property prices.

And you don’t have to be an analyst to know that properties in riverside and beachside suburbs tend to dictate higher prices and those that command views, achieve even higher prices again.

We’ve long thought of this as a view factor … and it’s true that a great view commands a premium price.

However, recent analysis performed by PropertyESP has found that it’s even a little more complicated than that.

We have recently been focusing on the apartment market in North Fremantle, South Fremantle and North Coogee … all suburbs in close proximity to the ocean or the Swan River.

What we found is that, within the water-front properties there was a distinction between those on the edge of the water and those a little further away.

In fact, properties at the water’s edge commanded a 20% (for river edge) and 13% (for ocean edge) premium in price per square metre over their ocean front counterparts.

Water’s edge properties are those properties where there is little more than a footpath or a cycle path separating the property from the riverbank or the beach.  You could walk out the front door carrying an afternoon bevvy and sit at the water’s edge to watch the passing flotilla or birdlife.

Ocean front properties on the other hand are those where there’s a little more to negotiate between the front door and the riverbank or beach when carrying your bevvy (and you may want to be wearing a little more than your swimwear).

They still have the views that people pay a premium for, but when you walk out the front door there’s a major road (likely to be busy in summer) to cross before you get to the water.

And whilst the size of the price premium varied for different sized apartments (1 bed, 2 bed and 3 bed) and in different suburbs, for the most part this rule held true.  When it didn’t, there were other factors at play, such as differences in the mix of properties for sale  etc.

So what’s the big deal?

This extra factor is something that some developers can work to their advantage with the right property.  And at PropertyESP we are all about maximising price!

The MRA’s Scarborough Redevelopment has already catalyst sales of new and modern ocean front apartment houses.

But watch carefully.  There’s the potential a little further down the coast for some interesting development …