Now that likely future PM Malcolm Turnbull has highlighted the “big supply side issue” in Australia’s housing market (see yesterday’s Australian), it would be timely for State and local governments around Australia to review their regulations and charges, which many commentators consider are holding back development. A good start in our State would be for the Queensland Government to forget about its objections to the so-called mega suburb near the Gap in Brisbane, which it has decided to review (see Govt may step in over Upper Kedron mega suburb).
Last month, in a media release Land supply pressures mount the Housing Industry Association’s Shane Garrett was critical of the lack of land supply across Australia, noting “Policymakers have to intervene in order to allow for Australia’s long-term housing needs to be met.” The issue extends beyond the debate over developer charges and their impact on new land supply, and includes consideration of the grey tape of heritage protection that restricts development in our inner cities. My friend and fellow ESA Qld committee member Brad Rogers was highly critical of the protection of old Queenslanders in Brisbane in a great article first published on this blog in 2013:
Brad was also interviewed by Steve Austin of 612 ABC Brisbane on the issue:
Having a more reasonable attitude to development in the inner city would allow for a boost to supply and a better matching of the supply that is provided to demand. While there is currently an apartment building boom in Brisbane, this appears to be occurring mainly in old commercial and industrial areas such as those in Milton and Newstead. This will provide much needed housing to young people (and baby boomer empty nesters) who want to live close to the city, but the apartment developments aren’t really suitable for families who need to look further away, to places such as Springfield and North Lakes. A relaxation of planning regulations in Brisbane’s inner city could allow for the development of more medium-density, family friendly developments, such as townhouses with communal gardens.
As noted by Tony Hall in his chapter in the book A Climate for Growth (pp. 168-169):
…current British practice shows how it is possible to achieve house-and-garden form at densities two to three times those in SEQ. Such types of higher density housing could facilitate both sustainable building techniques and an architectural style appropriate to the subtropical climate and cultural traditions of Queensland.
In summary, current government policies mean that not enough housing is being provided in aggregate, and, in those pockets where supply is booming, the type of housing – i.e. apartments in high-density developments – isn’t suitable or desirable for many families. Hence there is an urgent need to reconsider current policies.