A newly released State of the Land report from the Urban Development Institute of Australia has highlighted a shortfall in building housing developments across the country. For the first time, the report has focused on individual cities performance in providing land to enable the building of new housing projects and has found that Sydney fairs the worst.
The report shows that over four years 21,574 new housing lots were meant to come onto the market but the numbers are actually short by 3,000. The number in production of housing plots has dropped by 75% which is now causing prices to increase, creating new problems for low income families and first time buyers in Sydney.
In comparison to other Australian cities such as Melbourne, Sydney has four times the population yet it is building approximately 13,000 fewer new homes every year than Melbourne. This is coupled with the population level growing through migration and an ageing population.
The focus of this problem is now becoming increasingly more of a political issue with the State government being criticised for its un-researched policy and the Urban Development Institute of Australia supporting the opposition; in particular its plan to sell 10,000 blocks of Landcom owned land over four years, which is believed to be a way of helping to increase the availability of land and in turn bringing down prices, enabling more people to buy new homes. Landcom is a state owned corporation which plans new developments.
The State of the Land report also criticised the state governments’ decision to put a $20,000 cap on development levies. These levies are forced onto developers as a means of paying for local infrastructure.
The opposition party has claimed that it will increasing built housing by 30-50% in areas of Sydney’s fringe. However, this has also been criticised as to do this would mean that infrastructure to enable people to get into Sydney would have to be increased, meaning more investment and funding would have to be made. The Australian Conservation Foundation has spoken out about developments on the city’s outskirts claiming that unless infrastructure is improved adequately for people who would be potentially living there, this could worsen their quality of life with the need to commute for hours to work, to be able to find jobs and services such as hospitals and schools.
Despite these industry reports and criticisms, it has been announced that property developers Watpac will be the ones to develop and build social and private housing in the 1.5 hectare area of Kamira Courts in Villawood. This will be a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between the NSW state government and Watpac. The $95 million Villawood Urban Renewal project will include 111 new homes for seniors and another 169 privately owned homes. The development is expected to start in March 2012 and is set to be completed by May 2013.
Another housing development project has been approved in Herring Road, Macquarie Park. The land is owned by the Baptist Union of NSW who has agreed to sell 17,000 sqm of it to Lipman Properties of North Sydney. With an estimated value of $150.5 million the development will include five new residential blocks of up to 12 storeys high. The first building will include 123 apartments, retail space on the ground floor, car parking space and a new access road.