Perth, Peel and Bunbury have enough land zoned for development to last 26 years if they continue on their path of low-density housing and up to 50 years if they meet the higher density levels set out in WA's long-term planning strategy.
The forecast for WA's three key population centres was made in the annual Urban Growth Monitor, released by the Department of Planning which also contradicts developers' claims that an undersupply of blocks was to blame for big price increases in Perth land prices between 2004 and 2008.
The report found that in 2011, the supply of urban zoned land in the three regions increased by 400ha, with 7620ha of greenfield land ready for development to the north of Perth and 5880ha south- east of the city.
The area with least non-urbanised land zoned for development was the central sub-region, which is all but fully urbanised.
On average about 1008ha each year was consumed by subdivision in the Perth metropolitan, Peel and Greater Bunbury regions between 1991 to 2011 but there was a big decline in the rate of consumption since the global financial crisis, and in 2011 just 625ha of land was consumed by subdivision.
Subdivision applications in the Perth metropolitan region also fell in the wake of the GFC and while they are now increasing, the 18,420 lots subdivided in 2011 was still below the long-term annual average of 20,670 lots.
Department of Planning director general Eric Lumsden said land supply around WA's more urbanised areas was of great importance during the current period of rapid local population growth.
According to the report, the three regions had a big stock of subdivided, vacant residential lots for the past decade and the number of vacant lots increased steadily from 34,400 in 2004 up to 45,400 in 2008.
"This evidence directly contradicts the conventional belief that a lack of supply was the cause of the significant lot price increase between 2004 and 2008," it said.
The Urban Development Institute of Australia acknowledged the department's finding on the land supply but rejected its assessment of the forces behind the price increases in 2004 and 2008.
"It's very disappointing that the clear information available at the time showed nobody was keeping up with land supply at that stage," UDIA chief executive Debra Goostrey said.
The industry group claims there was a key flaw in the way data on vacant blocks was interpreted, with the Government focusing on the notional number of vacant blocks and not on the actual number of vacant blocks that were available to buyers.
"We are very concerned about the department's understanding of what happened in the last property cycle because if they are maintaining the position that there were no problems with the approval system, it could mean they won't take appropriate action to address the same problems that still exist," Ms Goostrey said.
Perth's real estate prices plunged in the GFC fallout and the report also found the supply of vacant lots declined for two consecutive years after the economic downturn of 2008 as subdivisions slowed but population growth remained high.
However, the number of vacant blocks rebounded on a recovery in subdivision activity and at the end of 2011, the number of vacant lots had climbed to 41,030 or 7 per cent of the 575,280 developed lots.
Property Council of Australia executive director Joe Lenzo said the report shines a light on land issues that need to be targeted to meet population forecasts but said infill housing targets were not even close to being met."The big problem is the local governments that are stopping the level of infill that is required," he said. "The very suburbs that should be developed don't want it."
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