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Affordable, sustainable housing to be built on Perth’s Hainsworth school site

The Amble, Girrawheen  (Image for illustrative purposes only)
The Amble, Girrawheen (Image for illustrative purposes only)

A Perth school site that has been laying vacant for seven years will be transformed into sustainable housing that will be sold at below-market rates, with a number of dwellings to be kept as social housing, the Western Australian government has announced.

WA housing minister Peter Tinley this week announced a collaboration with Yolk Property Group and Ventura Home Group that will see at least 129 small lot houses, apartments, townhouses and land packages built on the 4.2 hectare site in Girrawheen, about 15km north of Perth’s CBD.

Yolk Property Group has said the $21.8 million redevelopment project, known as The Amble, will aim high on sustainability, implementing Bioregional’s One Planet Living framework, which includes principles on sustainable water, local and sustainable food, sustainable materials, zero waste, zero carbon, and culture and community.

Yolk already has experience with One Planet Living, using it on another infill site – the former Kim Beazley school site at White Gum Valley – for its 24-apartment Evermore project, which pioneered the use of shared solar in a large-scale strata setting using a governance model developed by Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute’s Dr Jemma Green.

“At Evermore we pioneered the use of shared solar in a large-scale strata-setting,” Yolk Property Group director Tao Bourton said. “It was the first apartment development in the state to be recognised by the Bioregional Australia Foundation as a One Planet Community and national leader for a commitment to sustainable living. We want to continue in this vein with the Girrawheen project.”

One key sustainability aspect will be the use of timber as a structural material.

“The WA building industry is known for favouring brick,” Mr Boutron said. “It’s the material of choice for townhouses and low-rise apartments, but we’re planning to utilise timber framing at The Amble – an approach not commonly undertaken in WA for properties of this kind.”

Housing Minister Peter Tinley, Girrawheen MLA Margaret Quirk, Ventura Home Group Managing Director Phil Di Masi and Yolk Property Group Director Tao Bourton

Affordability key

The WA Department of Communities will provide the land and is co-investing with Yolk/Ventura Home Group on the built form. As a result prices will be kept low.

“All dwellings for sale in The Amble Estate will be priced below the Perth median house price, with up to 65 per cent below median prices for homes in Girrawheen,” Mr Tinley said.

“A number of dwellings will also be made available under the state government’s shared equity initiative, making the purchase of a new home even more affordable for low to middle income earners.”

About 11 per cent of the dwellings will also be retained as social housing.

“This unique infill project will deliver affordability, environmental sustainability, design quality, diversity and integration,” Mr Tinley said.

Attention to sustainability pays off

He said the Yolk/Ventura Home Group proposal was chosen as it was most closely aligned with the department’s vision and objectives for the site.

Mr Bourton said the company had an aim of making affordable residential communities where it was easy to live sustainably, and to innovate through new technologies, developing new product typologies or trialling novel construction methods.

“I think Girrawheen is ready for a development of this kind, offering residents homes that that tick all the boxes – affordability, quality, location and sustainability,” he said.

Member for Girrawheen Margaret Quirk said she was a great supporter of redeveloping the site, and had lobbied successive government housing ministers to tackle the issue.

“They all failed to deliver. So it is with a great sense of satisfaction that I see the McGowan Government, in partnership with the developers, breathing new life into the area with an innovative and contemporary approach to housing.”

The project adds additional infill development into an area close to transport and existing facilities such as schools, retail and parks. Perth has struggled to meet its infill target of 47 per cent, with Property Council WA Lino Iacomella saying those on the fringes were often being provided with better amenities than those in the inner ring.

On-site works are expected to begin in October.

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