Boomer demand driving medium rise apartment pressure in suburbs

LONDON: Boomer demand is driving the pressure to allow medium rise apartment development in the suburbs.

Western suburbs nimbys have long fought high-rise but in an astonishing twist in the age-old fight, residents in the eastern precinct of Bassendean are pleading for high-density apartments.

Bassendean mayor Kathryn Hamilton, local MP Dave Kelly and publican Bonifacio Napolitano are leading the charge after a 3000-strong community survey indicated overwhelming support for an eight-storey mixed-use development next to the train station.

Locals want extra housing options for first-homebuyers and downsizers, and more shoppers for local businesses.

The council has had an architectural concept plan drawn up for a vacant 3350sqm block, owned by the State Government, including space for shops and about 100 apartments.

“We have a lot of people with children or grandchildren who are growing up and they want to continue living in town,” said Ms Hamilton.

“Some want to downsize, but there is not that much housing stock available.”

The council relinquished its management rights at the site — currently the Wilson Street carpark — to the State Government for redevelopment into high-density housing about two years ago, but is dismayed nothing is happening.

Ms Hamilton has called for the site to get priority consideration for Federal and State housing support funding, claiming it was better than most greenfields Metronet sites.

“The Park Lane lot in Bassendean is ideally located in close proximity to established facilities with excellent amenities, making the site far superior to greenfield areas on the Ellenbrook Metronet line,” she said.

“This is an opportunity to prioritise a development that will deliver multiple benefits regarding State and Federal government housing targets, in a stunningly superior location.”

The State Government topped up the Social and Affordable Housing Investment Fund by $400 million in the 2024/25 State Government budget.

Premier Roger Cook last week threw down the gauntlet to developers, calling on the industry to tell the State Government which crown land it wanted to develop for housing.

But Ms Hamilton said developers continually overlooked their suburb in favour of the more expensive western suburbs, given construction costs were similar but coastal apartments paid more.

Local MP Dave Kelly said the site would be perfect for an apartment block, catering both to young professionals who commute into the city for work and also for social housing.

“I am fully supportive of the town’s push to turn the carpark into housing,” he said.

He said Bassendean not only had a loyal following of its own, but it was also ideally located for social housing because of its proximity to hospital, dental and other medical services, as well as shops and banking.

Local publican Bonnie Napolitano said businesses needed more local shoppers, with the area failing to fully bounce back from COVID restrictions.

A venue manager for the Bassendean Hotel, which underwent a $7 million redevelopment, said it would mean more business for the historic pub.

“With a hundred more families in an apartment development, that’s a lot of mouths to feed,” he said.

“But it’s not just about the hotel. A lot of shops on the strip are vacant and we want to see the area open back up.

He said people who grew up in Bassendean usually wanted to buy in the area as adults, but that was increasingly difficult amid the housing shortage.