Government owned land and buildings

Government owned land and buildings earmarked for sale better repurposed for much needed social and affordable homes: New report

Peak housing and homelessness body Shelter WA has identified thirty government owned land and buildings for sale that could be used towards helping solve the affordable housing shortage.

Using publicly available data, Shelter WA has identified thirty government owned land assets and buildings currently listed or earmarked for sale, with a developable area of at least 62 hectares.

“If these sites were developed with a 20% affordable rental and 20% social housing target, this would generate 864 new social and rental homes.”

Ms Mackenzie said.

Sites include the Swan Districts Hospital, a former primary school in Carnarvon, an apartment block in Kununurra, the old licensing centre in Welshpool, the former TAFE campus in South Hedland, the iconic McCall building, a former Children’s home in Cottesloe, and fifteen separate parcels of land.

“These buildings and land could be better repurposed as much needed social and affordable rental housing.  A lot of these sites are in areas with high levels of homelessness and rental stress in Perth and the regions.” Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie said.

“Using innovative fast build technologies like prefabricated construction or retrofitting and refurbishing empty buildings, homes could be brought to market in significantly less time and cost than traditional housing builds, and could also get around the current construction and tradie challenges.” Ms Mackenzie said.

“Victoria’s recent $5.4 billion social housing package harnessed the opportunity to use state and local land to reduce the cost of the new housing and included $532 million to build 1040 social housing, affordable and market homes on public land, including six “fast start” sites. It would be a gamechanger to adopt this approach here.” Ms Mackenzie said.


Government owned land for sale:

  • 10 parcels of land spanning 25 hectares (est.) are currently listed for sale across Perth and the regions, including White Gum Valley, South Hedland and Geraldton. If these sites were developed at a low-medium density (r30) this would create 763 new homes.
  •  Another 37 hectares of land has been identified for sale, including regional locations in Collie and South Bunbury, as well as metropolitan locations such as Mt Claremont. If developed at medium density this would create 1134 new homes.
  • A parcel of land is listed for sale in Albany along Princess Royal Drive, where there is currently zero rental vacancies.

Government owned homes and buildings for sale:

  • 15 empty homes and apartments were identified in areas including East Perth, Kununurra, Carmel and Lockridge.
  • 7422sqm buildings listed for sale in Carnarvon, if converted to residential could create 157 one-bedroom apartments.
  • Another 4400sqm of buildings earmarked for sale, including the former Swan District Hospital site and former McCall Centre children’s home in Cottesloe. This amount of floorspace could be converted to 93 one-bedroom apartments

Housing potential including Social and Affordable homes:

  •  A total of 2162 new homes could be developed across these sites.
  • The WA Housing Strategy 2020-30 has a minimum twenty percent target for social and affordable homes in government residential developments. Shelter WA commend this target but recognising the urgently and scale of the housing shortage suggest it be increased.
  • If sites identified in our report were developed with a 20% affordable rental and 20% social housing target, this would generate 864 new social and rental homes.

The state government publishes a list of ‘surplus’ land and building assets for disposal and the process is managed by the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage. Assets considered ‘surplus’ are currently sold to the private market, without any social or affordable housing targets.

“With a budget surplus of more than $5billion expected this year, there’s really no excuse to be selling off these public assets to generate revenue. We can use these assets instead to solve the housing shortage. Their value is far greater if held on to by government and developed in partnership with service providers and community housing developers in our sector”.

Ms Mackenzie said.

“We are also asking government to do a full audit of ‘lazy’ land and buildings it owns that are underutilised or could be suitable for development into affordable housing as a practical first step to solving the housing shortage”.

“We would like to see the government adopt a target of social and affordable 1000 homes to be delivered on land and buildings it owns over the next four years. More than forty organisations and service providers are united in this target.” Ms Mackenzie said.

“Here we have a win-win opportunity where the government already owns the most expensive part of the development. We would hate to see this opportunity missed. We are urging the government to work in partnership with the community housing sector as a delivery partner to develop affordable housing on these assets, rather than sell it off”. Ms Mackenzie said.

“With investment in social and affordable housing we can end the housing shortage and set us all up for a bright housing future.” Ms Mackenzie concluded.

Key Facts:

  •  There is a shortfall of 39,200 social and 19,300 affordable homes across WA
  • The WA rental vacancy rate is at a 40-year low
  • There are over 30,000 people are on the wait list for social housing (17,000 applications at June, 2021)
  • In the last three years only 119 social housing properties were built, and the number of social housing homes decreased by 1155 properties.

Download Report Here