Representatives from the Moreton Bay Regional Council have told the federal government they should intervene to cut down on stretched out time frames from zoning approval to completed residential developments.
Moreton Bay Regional Council mayor Peter Flannery and chief executive Greg Chemello appeared before the House of Representatives standing committee on tax and revenue on Monday (8 November 2021), for its ongoing inquiry into housing affordability.
When asked how the government could tackle housing supply issues, the local councillors pointed to planning approval issues with their federal and state-level counterparts.
“In South-East Queensland, I think the average delay from when a land is zoned for residential dwelling actually becomes residential – some years ago some work was done, it was about eight to 12 years delay in that process,” Mr Chemello commented.
“Part of that is the planning approvals, obviously, the necessary planning approvals, but then this sequence of never-ending business cases that both the state and federal governments seem to want to do, separately after each other too.”
The mayor, Mr Flannery, explained he had observed the Queensland state government commissioning multiple business case studies in order to determine the feasibility of a project.
“Historically, what I’ve seen in Queensland is those projects then get pushed out for many, many years, even decades, of doing a study after study after study. They’ll stack up whether a business case stacks up to seeking external [or] another pool of funding for the construction work,” Mr Flannery said.
He warned the current process could end up “blowing out many millions of dollars”, with the federal government also playing a role.
“I often see the federal government giving a bucket of money to the state government in Queensland and there’s no timeline certainly fixed to that,” Mr Flannery said.
“It just drags out beyond everybody’s expectations and the community runs out of patience and don’t believe any infrastructure is going to be delivered because they’re not seeing any bitumen put on the roads, or being put down on the ground.”
He recommended the federal government should seek to streamline the process, while Mr Chemello said it would be imperative to allow the three levels of government to “work together in a much more constructive way”.
A prescribed timeline with deadlines would help, Mr Flannery added, suggesting an example of having due dates for planning and construction.
Mr Chemello on the other hand, referred to the old adage, “time is money”.
“When you do the maths in terms of the development costs of adding on this time and if you can shrink it eight years to four years, that’s actually a massive saving. And that’s not savings at all pocketed by developers,” he said.
“Notwithstanding what some people may think, that’d be savings passed on to the reduced cost of housing.”
He added South-East Queensland would also benefit from a guarantee of infrastructure, such as public transport, parks and schools, to be provided alongside developments.
“If we could guarantee they would be co-provided, that would lessen the angst in a large part of a community,” Mr Chemello said.
“The whole development assessment process becomes faster too.”
[Related: Home-ownership schemes a ‘catch-22’: REA]
Sarah Simpkins is the news editor across Mortgage Business and The Adviser.
Previously, she reported on banking, financial services and wealth management for InvestorDaily and ifa.