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Land shortage leading to broader problems: report

Independent and FREE – 2021 Best Online Publication (Qld Country Press)

Land shortage leading to broader problems: report

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A land shortage is leading to broader problems on the Sunshine Coast, a new report reveals

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Rising house prices, smaller lot sizes, zero affordable housing and under employment will all impact on the Sunshine Coast’s economy due to a lack of land availability, a leading analyst says.

In his latest report Sunshine Coast Land Crisis (May 2021), released Tuesday, leading property researcher Terry Ryder says new housing supply has become a critical factor across the region with the lack of developable land the “elephant in the room”.

“It is important to understand that the Sunshine Coast’s population will increase and all of the data available indicates that the region has inadequate land to accommodate the level of population growth forecast by both the State Government and the Sunshine Coast Council,” Mr Ryder (pictured) said.

“It starts with the rental market which is currently below 0.6%, they are generally the first point of entry for those wishing to live and, or work on the Sunshine Coast and should be heard as the first and loudest warning bell in maintaining a sustainable economy.

“Sunshine Coast Council maintains that its planning procedures provide for adequate land supply, primarily through infill development (65% of growth to be accommodated in small to medium sized infill projects, rather than through large-scale greenfield development).

“However, industry organisations including the Urban Development Institute of Australia and the Property Council of Australia strongly disagree with this sentiment. What is apparent from analysing all the data is that there is very little land available for new residential developments and Council’s view on having adequate land supply looks to be clearly in question.

“The vast majority of the greenfield development is occurring at Aura and Harmony. However, not all renters or buyers want to live in these southern estates. More needs to be done to allow locals, as well those from outside the Sunshine Coast, to have more choice where they wish to live so they can be closer to family, amenity and work.”

Mr Ryder’s report said increased land prices and reduced lot sizes impacted on affordable housing as young people and low-income earners struggled to enter the market.

“It also impacts on the local job market where staff simply cannot afford to buy or rent because they have been priced out of the market.

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“The region is already feeling the pinch with both the building and hospitality industries struggling to find staff and there will be long term impacts on major regional projects such as the new Maroochydore CBD, the Sunshine Coast airport expansion and the major health precincts if employees can’t find suitable accommodation for their staff.”

Property Council Sunshine Coast Committee Chair Brad Williams said while the land availability and affordability issue was spread across the region, it was more pertinent north of the Maroochydore River where there was a real lack of housing product and diversity on offer.

“Council’s decision not to approve the DA for the Twin Waters West residential community has exacerbated the issue, so it’s really only the Bli Bli community who are doing the bulk of the heavy lifting in this space to get product to market.

“We certainly need to fast track some developable land north of the river or we will continue to feel the impact of our growing pains well into the foreseeable future,” Mr Williams said.

Sunshine Coast Council said that as confirmed by the 2020 Land Supply and Development Monitoring Report, the Coast currently met the minimum supply benchmarks for residential zoned land as set out by the South East Queensland Regional Plan 2017.

A spokesman said there was 15 years of land supply available within the defined consolidation area and 23 years of supply within the defined expansion area. The availability of developable land met or exceeded the requirements set by the Regional Plan.

“While council’s role in land supply is important, it is only half of the equation. Bringing housing to market requires the development industry to obtain approvals and physically develop the land,” the spokesman said.

“Council has no control over when development applications are lodged for assessment. These development processes vary and follow market conditions. In times of heightened market activity, it is not uncommon for land and housing to be sold at a rate quicker than it can be brought to market.

“In addition to this, council has no control over the assessment and approval of lots in Caloundra South, which is a state government declared Priority Development Area. Caloundra South has one of the most significant areas of approved lot supplies in our region.

“Council is also working with land developers to improve the plan sealing process and deliver residential land to the market in order to take advantage of various incentive packages that have been available to homebuyers.”

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