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Crunch time looms for SEQ housing supply, say developers

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The property development industry has ramped up pressure on the state and local governments to do more to ensure enough supply of land for housing, saying it can take up to 16 years for master planned communities to reach a stage where people can move in.

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The Urban Development Institute of Australia has called for the establishment of a “Queensland Growth Areas Authority” to centralise urban planning and streamline development approvals.

The proposal – certain to anger local councils – is aimed at giving the development industry certainty on land supply and infrastructure priorities, particularly in the fast growing south-east Queensland region.

It is contained in a new UDIA report arguing for major policy reforms to tackled housing affordability.

The group’s Queensland chief executive Kirsty Chessher-Brown said the report should act as a catalyst to “bring to all parties together – and each level of government – to collaboratively reduce costs, inconsistencies and roadblocks which are slowing the supply of affordable homes so desperately needed by purchasers and renters”.

“Housing affordability is an issue impacting every Queenslander – across all regions and each generation – with no signs that pandemic-driven migration to the State will subside any time soon,” she said.

“Put simply, more dwellings and more housing choices need to be delivered quickly and affordably to keep up with projected population growth from interstate and overseas.

The development industry has long claimed that foot dragging and complicated planning schemes overseen by local councils hinder the availability of land and help worsen housing affordability.

However, some councils have hit back, accusing developers of “land banking” to drive up future profits and complaining that state government rules on infill development constrain them from releasing greenfield lots.

The UDIA reports insists that “the realistic availability of land for houses is increasingly restricted by a complex array of environmental conservation overlays, preservation of character areas, density requirements, setbacks, height, open space, and many other requirements, many of which are added to an area after the area has been zoned for residential use”.

The report says most homebuyers want detached housing, which are built most efficiently in master planned communities.

“Unfortunately, the delays in bringing them to market in Queensland are now acute. Master planned communities can now take 14-16 years to move from acquisition to people moving in,” it says.

The diminishing pipeline of master planned communities is already being felt throughout the region but, unless urgently addressed, will escalate over time as future opportunities dry up.

“This means a key driver of SEQ’s current housing affordability crisis will only exacerbate, not ease, without action.”

It criticised low levels of approved housing lots, saying Brisbane, the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, Redlands, Moreton Bay and Noosa were not meeting required the state’s land supply benchmarks.

Deputy Premier and Planning Minister Steven Miles this year established a Growth Areas Team to fast track land supply in booming regions like Moreton Bay.

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