Public housing approvals fast-tracked, while private sector housing wallows

23 December 2009

More than 2,200 public housing homes have been approved in NSW under new fast-track planning rules, while applications for private sector development are still caught in red tape, according to the Urban Taskforce.

The Taskforces chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said that 1,873 public housing homes had been self-approved by the Department of Housing under special rules introduced in February. The new rules allow the Department to avoid complying with local council development control plans.


Mr Gadiel said a further 350 homes had been approved by the NSW Governments Co-ordinator-General, Bob Leece, under special legislation passed in July. This legislation removed the need to comply with any requirements of the states planning laws.


In the first six months of the public housing construction program, work started on 1,100 new public housing homes in NSW, Mr Gadiel said.


Were seeing new public housing being built at more than four times the traditional level.


Thats great for the economy and has helped support employment in the construction and the trades sector.


However, there has been no equally effective boost to the approvals regime for private sector homes.


The Taskforces chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said that, amongst the states, NSW has the lowest seasonally adjusted growth in new home commencements in the September quarter.


NSW and South Australia both saw only a 3.2 percent growth, compared to 8.2 percent in Victoria, 22.4 percent in Queensland, 13.8 percent in Western Australia, 4.9 percent in Tasmania and 9.4 percent nationally, he said.


Mr Gadiel said the figures illustrate how heavily NSW private development is suffering.


Work started on 1,600 private sector higher density homes, compared with the previous 10 year September quarter average of 4,400 homes, he said.


The NSW private sector construction of new apartments, terraces and townhouses is running at close to a third of traditional levels.


Mr Gadiel said that similar problems existed for greenfield development by private developers, however, this was masked in the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures by the inclusion of mum-and-dad knock-down-and-rebuilds.


The government has freed public housing from the need to comply with the mind-numbingly prescriptive requirements of local development control plans, he said.


Yet many privately-developed homes simply cant be built right now, because of unrealistic council requirements.


Until we get reform in this area, the housing supply in NSW will continue to fall well short of whats needed.


The Urban Taskforce is a property development industry group, representing Australias most prominent property developers and equity financiers.


For every $1 million in construction expenditure, 27 jobs are created throughout the broader economy.


The construction activity made possible by property developers contributes $78 billion to the national economy each year and creates 849,000 direct jobs.



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