New Housing: It’s about supply actually!

OpEd – Maxwell Shifman (National President, Urban Development Institute of Australia)

Much has been said about the lack of housing across Australia, and there is no doubt we are facing a critical housing shortage. Supply is being routinely constrained due to increasingly difficult and slow planning systems.

Planning and approval systems across Australia have seen orders of magnitude increases in complexity compared with a decade ago, sometimes with questionable benefit. These are coupled with often conflicting policies, diverging interests, duplication and lack of consistency.

The capacity of planning assessments also hasn’t kept up with the growth in complexity, which means processes that might have taken six or 12 months, now take two or three years or more, adding cost and uncertainty.

NHFIC has identified it takes a minimum of six years from identification of new land for potential development to the first delivery of a new dwelling. This stymies delivery capability and capacity, even before adding on the recent shortages of labour and materials.

Fixing supply requires a holistic review of planning systems across Australia, from zoning, infrastructure planning and delivery, to planning and building approvals and most critically, bringing existing communities on the journey and recognising that we need to keep building new homes to keep our communities vibrant and accessible.

Planning systems need to be flexible and allow faster processing. We collectively need to be focused on the desired outcome – meeting the housing needs of current and future Australians – and ultimately enable housing supply to be more responsive to both where and when demand is there.

Housing development is a highly complex and risky business, involving enormous investments and capital risk, and navigation of an incredibly complex system to deliver an important community need – new homes.

Part of the solution is to increase trust of our industry, recognising developers not as opponents, but actually as partners of Councils, authorities and the broader community in delivering new housing supply.

by Maxwell Shifman (National President, Urban Development Institute of Australia)

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