The Property Council of Australia is warning the NSW state government that, despite the housing market slump in recent times, the focus needs to remain on “putting the right housing in the right places to avoid a future housing crunch”.
Jane Fitzgerald, Property Council NSW executive director, said: “We have seen the policy focus shift from housing in recent times, which is worrying for those who want to see more affordable, quality housing built in NSW.
“A dip in the market does not mean we should also see a dip in policy.”
The comments follow Shadow Minsisted for Planning Tania Mihailuk’s announcement that Labor would scrap the Medium Density Housing Code (Missing Middle Code) if elected in March, which the Property Council described as “a blow to diverse housing supply across Sydney and affordable housing for younger generations”.
The purpose of the Missing Middle Code was to allow more terrace-style housing to be built to ensure that new housing was consistent with the existing character of particular suburbs in Sydney.
However, the implementation of the code was deferred by the NSW government in 50 council areas until July 2019.
“The implementation of the code would mean a greater supply of diverse, more affordable housing that gives younger generations trying to get into the housing market in the middle rings of Sydney a greater chance of buying their first home,” the Property Council said in a statement.
Citing the Greater Sydney Commission’s housing targets, the Council said 40,000 new homes need to be built every year until 2036 to reach a target of 725,000 homes – the amount required to achieve a balance between supply and demand.
“Targets are important, and it is critical that the targets are reached by the right type and number of homes in the right locations in the timeliest manner possible,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
She recalled that the last time the policy focus on housing was lost, the state ended up with a shortage of more than 100,000 homes and an affordability problem.
“We have not recovered from this position with buying a home still out of reach for too many in the community,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
“We need to see a renewed focus from our state government as there is strong social, environmental and economic evidence for putting the right housing in the right places.”
The executive director called for a “twofold approach” to delivering new homes.
“We need to ensure there is serviced land available for greenfield development around the existing Sydney fringe while also urbanising existing communities by building more medium-density, high-amenity housing around new and existing transport nodes,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
“Delivering more homes also means ensuring policy settings support a strong retirement living sector to encourage right sizing for our over 65s and backing the establishment of a build-to-rent sector in New South Wales to give renters a better, more secure housing option.”
She continued: “We have seen over 10 major changes to housing and planning policy in the past 12 months, with most coming from previously announced policy being repealed or delayed. This is not how we should be creating an environment for investment or good outcomes.”