Glenn Stevens Report on Housing Affordability Calls for Faster Planning to Support New Residents

The Glenn Stevens Report on Housing Affordability in NSW has called for a streamlining of planning approvals so that potential new residents are supported says the Urban Taskforce.

“Glenn Stevens in his report says that councils were too focussed on the interests of existing owners rather that potential new residents that need new housing.” Says Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson “The Urban Taskforce met with former Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Glenn Stevens, and raised our concerns that the NSW planning process seemed to delegate decisions to local levels where communities did not want change while these decisions should be made at a regional level.”

“Glenn Stevens raised concerns that compared to other states NSW delegated too much to local levels. His report says ‘we have to ask whether NSW errs too far on the side of bespoke processes and discretionary decisions, in comparison with other jurisdictions in Australia’ (p15). He supports a move towards more independent decision making panels.”

“The Stevens report also calls for a greater use of ‘complying development’ or ‘code assessment’ where he sees NSW having a smaller proportion of this type of faster decision making process than other states (p 11). The Urban Taskforce supports these proposals and has promoted 6 to 8 storey apartments as an ideal building type for complying development.”

“The report also raises the issue of the size of NSW dwellings required through regulations as being higher in Sydney than in Melbourne or Brisbane (p4). Stevens quotes an additional cost figure of $150,000 per dwelling which is a figure the Urban Taskforce has developed as the extra cost that comes from the NSW Apartment Design Guide compared to Victorian standards. It is good to see that the government has picked up on this issue with Policy 18 where the Minister for Planning will issue guidelines for smarter and compact apartments.”

“Another aspect of the Stevens Report is the need for government to be more positive about communicating the benefits of growth. He says the government needs to ‘articulate to a sometimes-sceptical populace – those who are already here – what we need to do to accommodate more people’. It is important that the NSW Government develop positive communication plans to communities about the benefits of growth.”

“The major input from Glenn Stevens has been on the length of time taken for rezoning and development approval. ‘This lowers the short to medium term elasticity of supply and raises long term run costs’ (p10). With changing global economic circumstances the development industry needs to respond to changes quickly but long complex planning processes work against this need.”

“A direct response to the Stevens concern about the length of time applications take is the government’s policy 14 to create ‘an Office of Housing Co-ordinator to resolve impediments to housing supply’. The Urban Taskforce has been advocating for a focus on high level resources to drive supply and we assume the proposed $40 million to implement this in the Stevens report will be realised.”

“The Urban Taskforce supports the general thrust of the Glenn Stevens report into housing affordability in NSW.”