Opinion (6/3)

Written on the 7 April 2009

Opinion (6/3)

 

SE Queensland plan inadequate

 
Property commentator Michael Matusik believes the State Government has underestimated the land parcels it will need in the future and unless more greenfield land is opened up for development, the Gold Coast and much of southeast Queensland will be unable to accommodate population growth in the next 50 years. Matusik says the 2009 Southeast Queensland Regional Plan Review is heading in the wrong direction.
ACCORDING to the 2009 draft, the Gold Coast will require 137,500 dwellings by 2031, of which 80,000 or almost 60 per cent will be developed on existing urban land at places such as Southport and Robina.
The balance of 57,500 dwellings, again according to the 2009 draft, can be accommodated through broad-hectare development, including land at Coomera, Hope Island, Pimpama, Ormeau, Maudsland and Reedy Creek. 
 Many Gold Coast households cannot fit into infill dwellings and for those who wish to live in such product, the vast majority cannot afford to do so. There is a real and growing demand for alternate affordable housing but on greenfield sites, offset near open space and community facilities.
While the 2005 Plan forecast 580,000 new dwellings would be required in the southeast corner by 2026, the 2009 draft predicts that 735,500 new dwellings will need to be built by 2031. This represents a 65 per cent increase on the 1.1 million existing dwellings in South East Queensland.
It’s time for the State Government to re-visit its flawed broad-hectare study. In July 2007, the Queensland Government released a Housing Affordability Strategy to ensure that housing is on the market quickly and at the lowest cost. Another aim of this strategy was to increase the short to medium term supply of greenfield land in the region.
 This strategy identified around 42 greenfield areas, ranging in size from 100 to 5000ha which are either ‘committed’ or ‘potentially’ available for development. Interestingly, the current redrafting of the regional plan uses few of these targeted greenfield sites and none of the five identified on the Gold Coast have been identified as future growth areas.
 It is these areas that should be brought forward and opened up for development if the Gold Coast is to be able to accommodate its anticipated population growth. Overall, we estimate that only half of the greenfield land earmarked for future development by both the Broadhectare Study and 2009 Draft Regional Plan will be economically feasible to develop and that’s a major concern.
The planned 2010 review has been brought forward, with a new revised draft plan released in December last year, with the timeframe extended five years from 2026 to 2031. Although the 2009 draft already has regulatory force, public consultation ends this month and the 2009-31 plan is to be finalised in July this year.
 The 2009 draft promotes compact urban development in the region, so almost half (more than 44 per cent) of the new housing will be built in existing urban areas, through higher density development. 
The remainder will be built in suitable undeveloped greenfield or broad-hectare sites. Greenfield developments are proposed to deliver a mandatory minimum 15 dwellings per hectare. 
 We (Matusik Property Insights) believe that the 2009 review is heading in the wrong direction and to illustrate such we have chosen the Gold Coast as a case study. 
The reason for choosing the Gold Coast is because it already supports the most diverse range of housing within the southeast corner of the state. Yet despite such market acceptance for higher density development on the Gold Coast it will not be able to deliver the high proportion of infill housing expected of it under the 2009 draft plan.
 But our analysis of market trends, land ownership and census data suggests that the Gold Coast will not be able to accommodate anywhere near an additional 137,500 new dwellings unless more greenfield (vacant land parcels) land is opened up for development.

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