Construction Industry experts weigh in on major Perth developments in 2023

Industry experts expect the challenges holding back major projects to continue this year, with developers set to ask for extensions and embrace green trends.

Subiaco-based urban planner and Developed managing director Daniel Paton told PerthNow price rises were “hopefully behind us”.

“The capacity to take on new work will be a discussion point for all builders, however falling material costs is a positive sign to see for the industry as a whole,” he said.

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But Mr Paton said interest rate rises would see some new projects struggle to start.

“This may reduce some potential stock entering the market, which is not ideal for Perth given the current housing and rental shortages,” he said.

Camera IconMr Paton said interest rate rises would see some new projects struggle to start. Credit: Andrew Ritchie/The West Australian

“Larger landmark sites should continue to progress, however time extensions for existing approvals may be a common request due to construction delays.”

This phenomenon is already starting in 2023, with DevWest’s six-storey proposal for apartments in Subiaco before state planners tomorrow, as the company seeks an extra two years after initially receiving the green light in 2016.

But Mr Paton said on a national scale, Perth was in a better position than most to push market headwinds. Developed senior planner Ciara Clarke said the building trades were still suffering staffing shortages, with a lack of housing to attract new workers continuing to exacerbate the issue.

“As infill progresses, some people question the need for two-car households and the need to build apartments and other affordable housing products with two car bays,” she said.

“The completion of major Perth city office projects, such as the Brookfield Chevron tower at Elizabeth Quay, should have a positive impact on post-pandemic office worker levels and general vibrancy in the city.”

Australian Institute of Architects WA Chapter president Sandy Anghie also cited the Chevron headquarters as being a key project for the State that would add 57,000sqm of office space to the city.

Australian Institute of Architects WA Chapter president Sandy Anghie.
Camera IconAustralian Institute of Architects WA Chapter president Sandy Anghie. Credit: Kelly Pilgrim Byrne/Kelly Pilgrim Byrne

Ms Anghie said she hoped WA architectural practices would be involved in the Aboriginal Cultural Centre, which is expected to be delivered in 2028.

The architect and City of Perth councillor said the trend of apartments receiving approval but being held back due to uncertainty was likely to persist.

“It doesn’t look like pressures will ease in 2023. The skills shortage, being one of the biggest challenges facing Australia’s construction market, is likely to persist. Added to this is now rising interest rates and increasing uncertainty across the economy,” she said.

Ms Anghie said there would be a greater focus on sustainability and it was crucial to “move towards a zero-carbon construction industry”.

“Many product suppliers are leading the way, developing new building materials that seek to address this challenge. Examples include lower carbon concrete and lightweight rectified bricks, which reduce transport costs and the amount of cement and mortar required,” she said.

“But most importantly, we must now be measuring the whole-of-life carbon in our buildings.”

Custom home building company JWH Group general manager Jay Walter said he believed better weather could mean “further smoothing out of the pipeline bottleneck” experienced in 2022.

JWH Group general manager Jay Walter.
Camera IconJWH Group general manager Jay Walter. Credit: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

“We like to think things will ease as the pipeline has worked through some of the digestion problems, such as more homes and projects completing and the market returning to a bit more normalcy with what it can deliver,” Mr Walter said.

“The labour market is probably our biggest risk, which is why we need to maintain population growth and service all the industries that are in dire need.”

A State Government spokesperson listed the ECU city campus among its major infrastructure projects it hoped to see work start on, and a string of transport and Metronet projects it believed could be completed in 2023.

“In light of the economic challenges we face, particularly the heat in the construction market, the State has been working collaboratively with the Federal Government to ensure infrastructure spending remains responsible and sustainable,” they said.

“This includes smoothing the pipeline of works to help manage the workforce and supply chain challenges.

“We’re also supporting the residential construction sector with key initiatives such as the 50 per cent land tax concession for build-to-rent developments and the release of more State Government-owned land through the housing diversity pipeline.”

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