ABC News: Fremantle Council promotes German apartment construction model to bypass developers

Fremantle Council wants to introduce a German model of housing development, allowing buyers to bypass developers and create tailor-made apartments.

The council is selling off a 1,500-square-metre block close to Fremantle Park and the central shopping district.

But rather than simply taking the highest bid for the land, the council has invited groups of prospective buyers who want to collectively build without the involvement of property developers or real estate agents to show their interest.

Fremantle councillor Rachel Pemberton told 720 ABC Perth she hoped the city could facilitate a type of development that originated in Berlin called Baugruppen, which literally translates as building groups.

“It’s people who get together in groups to build their own homes,” she said.

“They don’t want to live in a dog box, they want to have a place which is really liveable, with good outdoors spaces and quality architectural design.

“Unlike traditional housing cooperatives, the idea with this is that you do actually end up with a separate title at the end of it.

“It becomes a freehold property that you can buy and sell, but it’s an innovative way to get it up off the ground and going.”

In Berlin, one in 10 new apartments are now built under the Baugruppen model.

“When talking to people who have done this in Germany, what they find is that going through this whole process actually builds really strong community connections,” Cr Pemberton said.

Superior design possible

Philip Griffiths, president of the WA chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects, has welcomed the move.

He said the model could lead to superior designs with more innovative use of shared space.

“There is enormous flexibility, it’s really up to the group.

“On agreement they might agree to pool some of the spaces that they don’t use very much, like a laundry, and have a shared laundry overlooking a garden.

“You might have a four-bedroom apartment with two front doors and later on in life you can divide the apartment off to become two apartments and there’s an income source in your old age.”

But are banks willing to lend?

Bypassing the profit motivations of property developers could also lead to savings for buyers.

A 2015 study by Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology found apartment buyers could save up to 30 per cent by collectively developing themselves.

But whether banks are willing to finance this model, which is untested in Australia, remains to be seen.

A 2014 attempt by Melbourne residents and architects to pool their deposits to build hit a snag when none of the four banks they approached were willing to lend.

Cr Pemberton said proposals to council would be accepted for several months.

“We realise that getting 10 or 20 people together who are actually willing to put money on the line and sign up will take a little longer,” she said.

“We have seen it work in other parts of the world so there is no reason it should fail here.

“We have to try and work out how to do it.”

Potential Baugruppen collectives have until December 5 to submit their proposal to council.

Topics: urban-development-and-planning, house-and-home, architecture, building-and-construction, local-government, human-interest,fremantle-6160, perth-6000

 

About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

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