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Planning and Public Housing reforms for housing urgently needed

Planning and Public Housing reforms for housing urgently needed

The Great Australian Urban Dream is dying!

Home ownership is rapidly becoming a dream for many driven by low wage growth, rising urban populations, overseas competition, investment properties, negative gearing and cost of living. More low cost housing is urgently needed.

This is a considerable concern when we consider that long term property belonging to the Department of Public Housing impedes higher density property development. An alarming number of public homes are located between private housing becoming a barrier for development and blocking private house owners from consolidating, developing, and creating more dwellings for young families.

The housing crisis is worsening in the Sydney area and perhaps in the future we will see a large number of people without shelter, already we have too many homeless people. All this is happening before our eyes, while single public housing sprinkled amongst private homes in Sydney areas are limiting and preventing the development of more housing.

It is time for the NSW Government and the Federal Government to pay attention to this issue, and to guide local governments to adjust regulations and conditions of housing construction, in order to encourage and facilitate the construction of small housing with cheap rents such as the boarding housing.

We urge the Government and Housing Department of NSW to pay close attention to find a solution to public housing that is strangling development, improvement and increase of housing density in Sydney.

A report from the Centre for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) has outlined measures by which housing unaffordability can be addressed but also goes on to say that affordability will be an issue for at least the next 40 years. Solutions are needed now.

The argument goes that reforming planning and development laws could help address this issue by allowing multi-story developments for low income earners, especially closer to the CBD of the capital cities.

This was the plan decades ago when public housing development underwent a post-war boom as returning soldiers were delisted.

The major cities are undergoing massive population growth and affordable housing is in short supply. Planning restrictions on high-rise apartments needs to be seriously re-examined.

There is huge need for more apartments, especially for those at the lower end of the wage spectrum. In cities like Sydney, the dream of a house with a half-acre backyard persists and the current planning ideology reflects that. But it’s a vision that is slowly being compromised.

Sydney and Melbourne are trending towards the mega-city status of overseas cities like New York and London. To contain the growing population, planners need to think in terms of building medium to high-rise. As governments boost public transport infrastructure, they mustn’t forget that new rail lines are only half of the equation; people in need of accommodation won’t follow the trains. They’ll try to live within their means as much as possible. Planners need to understand this.    

Social housing like room sharing (such as Air BNB) reveals that the need for affordable housing is only increasing in urgency. The changing dynamic of employment requires a more flexible approach from planners and developers. Planning laws and regulations are in most need of flexibility. These laws need to bring them out of 20th century thinking and into the 21st century.

Reforming public housing, planning and development laws to allow for more low-income housing to be built is a welcome start but more needs to be done.

                                                Editor in Chief



Copyright 2007