Between 1903 and 1921 Gold Estates became one of the biggest landowners in Perth – acquiring estates totalling 4,700 acres at what must be considered nominal prices when compared to the value of these properties today. These estates were progressively subdivided and sold. For example, Castle Hill Estate, located in the suburb of Bicton and adjacent to the Swan River, was purchased for £8,000 in 1921 and subdivided into more than 600 house lots and then sold. This was the real start of what has become a legacy of successful property acquisition and development which has spanned more than a century.
These early days of property development were very different to today as there was little government intervention and fewer restrictions. However, in 1933 the directors’ report noted that there were significant changes underway with the introduction of the Land Act 1933:
“The development of new estates in Western Australia has entirely altered as the result of an Act passed by the State Government. The board understands that under the terms of this Act it will, in future, be impossible to place any new property on the market for sale piecemeal without first complying with certain stringent requirements, one of which is the construction of roads to provide access to every lot on the estate.”
This was the start of government authorities passing development expenses on to developers and today sewers, water, drainage, footpaths and electricity have been added to the list of requirements.
Although the changes introduced by the government made business far more complex, Gold Estates’ Chairman and major shareholder Major D. D. Milne ensured that the company stayed focused on purchasing land in Western Australia, which he determined was more favourable than land in any other part of Australia.