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Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Launch of Housing Supply Association

The NSW planning and environment minister, Anthony Roberts, launched the Housing Supply Association on 26 July 2017 in Pyrmont. This is part of what he told the room. Note how he creates a matrix of narratives that interweaves the most pressing reality of housing - that it is prohibitively expensive for many people - with other issues, such as regulation and demographics. It's a bit of a dance: two steps forward, one step back. 

Roberts was on the TV in the past few days saying that inclusionary zoning targets of five or 10 percent per development would not work because it would push up the price of units not included in any scheme. So he's not completely come on-board to back the release of more affordable housing. The message is mixed. But the following address at least shows that he's aware of the issue. The HSA is a trade body for developers.

When it comes to holistically addressing the issue of housing supply and affordability, I firmly believe that the [Housing Supply Association] will have a great deal to offer. We now have, for the first time ever, a purpose-led organisation representing industry leaders that are working hand-in-hand with those seeking greater affordable housing in government to contribute to a best-practice public policy as well as improved planning outcomes. Most importantly, the HSA, in conjunction with its members, will now have the ability to have direct intervention on the supply and cost of housing issues, breaking down the barriers for those who want to purchase their own home but can’t afford it in the current marketplace.

And these are crucial issues impacting our state, and particularly Sydney. And I appreciate the opportunity to let you know that the NSW government and what we’re doing in that space. As you all know, our state and its capital are in high demand as a place to call home. We have good amenity, wonderful liveability, and a strong economy. So, it’s therefore not surprising that our population is growing and demand for housing is strong. In fact, you could argue that we are indeed a victim of our own success. We are now an international city. And we have all those issues that an international city faces around housing affordability. And let me make it quite clear, that while Melbourne continues to compete with Wellington and Auckland and Dubbo and Adelaide, Sydney will continue to compete with Paris, New York, Singapore and London.

We’re now expecting to see an increase of some 2.1 million people over the next 20 years. The population of Sydney is projected to grow to more than 6.4 million people in that time, which is an increase of almost 1.8 million people from last year. More than half of this growth, of course, is going to occur in Western Sydney. This means we need some 900,000 more homes across NSW, 725,000 of those in Sydney alone. To add to the demand created by population growth, new residential construction between 2006 and 2011 unfortunately remained at incredibly low levels. The result of that sustained low level of construction, when Bob Carr said Sydney was full, is that there is now pent-up demand for an additional 100,000 homes in Sydney.

The government knows that we can’t afford to resign ourselves to business-as-usual, and that’s why we’re been doing everything to ramp up supply across NSW and particularly in Sydney. In response to current demand and the massive demand expected in the future, the government is delivering records numbers of new homes Across the state. And we’re doing this by reforming the planning system, and I again want to pay tribute to [Carolyn] McNally [Secretary, NSW Planning and Environment] here today. And we’re introducing new programs.

And throughout it all we’re continuing to keep our state economy strong. And indeed 90 percent of this nation’s growth is coming from NSW. And that doesn’t just happen by good luck. That happens when you have a premier and a government that is working hard to ensure that we get the books right, we recycle our assets, and we ensure that we continue to drive good public policy. If this state – I must say, all politics aside – but the fact is, if we had Labor running this state, as they have been doing in Queensland and Victoria, this entire nation would be in recession. So, you have a government that is open to ensuring that we have good opportunities for change, we have great opportunities for developing new business and jobs. And particularly the development of new homes.

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But supply, can I say, is not just about meeting demand, however important that may be. It’s also crucial to easing housing prices. We all know that NSW, and especially Sydney, is in the midst of a housing price boom. Now, while that’s great and we celebrate that for current homeowners, these prices have made it difficult at times for first-home buyers to actually enter the marketplace. And that’s why this government is absolutely committed to making housing affordable so everyone can aspire to enter the marketplace.

The challenge of housing affordability is one that requires both state and federal government responses together with working closely with local government to deliver upon that. But we’re pushing forward, particularly from a state and local level, to help address the challenge by increasing that housing supply. Higher house prices, of course, have been driven by rising land values. And this has been very much the case, particularly in Sydney. So, in response, can I say, as minister, this government is releasing and rezoning more land, and will continue to do so, to create those new communities.

We’re also rebuilding existing suburbs to take advantage of our unprecedented investment in transport infrastructure. And we’re creating 15 new priority precincts across Sydney in areas that are close to transport and close to services. These precincts have been earmarked for growth and for revitalisation. And they’ll provide thousands of more homes, creating vibrant communities supported by that key infrastructure. They will allow for more modern, diverse housing and they’ll boost supply by accelerating the rezoning process. So, this will mean that people of all ages will have a variety of housing to choose from in their chosen communities.

In the next five years, can I say the Department of Planning and Environment forecasts over 184,000 new homes will be completed across Sydney. Now, that’s a 60 percent increase, or some 69,000 new homes completed, compared to the previous five years. So, this is a massive surge in new housing and a welcome one for those looking to make Sydney their permanent home.

As you would know, supply and affordability are totally entwined, and that’s why the NSW government’s new housing affordability packages focus so strongly on supply. Announced on 1 June this year, this comprehensive package seeks to improve housing affordability through a range of measures. As part of the package, the Department of Planning and Environment will establish a specialist team to work with councils to accelerate rezoning applications to assist those in this room to ensure that we deliver more homes for more people. We will also establish an Office of Housing coordinator to resolve any impediments to supply.

We want to hear from industry. We want to hear from people in this room as to what is holding you up doing what you do best, and that is putting rooves over people’s heads. Councils will be able to consider smaller minimum lot sizes when they’re updating their local environment plans. As land value has a significant impact on housing prices, of course small lots will reduce the cost of dwellings. Our medium-density housing code has been developed and that’s going to allow well-designed dual-occupancies, townhouses, manor homes and terraces to be accepted as compliant development. This is directly aimed at bringing more homes at affordable prices into the marketplace, as well as diversifying the types of homes that are available. The greenfield housing code will simplify development standards for one- and two-storey dwellings in greenfield areas. And over $2 billion will be allocated for state infrastructure to accelerate housing in those priority areas. A new premier’s priority on housing affordability will be established with a goal of 61,000 new dwelling completions state-wide on average each year until 2021. And I’ll be leading a housing affordability taskforce to drive the strategy to meet that implementation.

Can I make it quite clear that as a minister, I personally – as well as a government – interested and committed to removing the red tape to ensure quality dwellings get built faster across Sydney and NSW.

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We’re making sure that increased housing supply supports the easing of housing prices. The [Greater Sydney Commission]’s district plans will be finalised and will be released early next year. Those plans will contain affordable rental housing targets and I know these are targets many stakeholders have some views upon. What I want to make clear is that the targets the GSC ends up adopting are a minimum. They will clearly be targets for affordable rental housing for very-low and low income households separate of course to the government’s social housing programs. These are targets that can’t be traded off or substituted for moderate income housing solutions. These need to occur above and beyond those GSC targets.

To facilitate this occurring, my department will soon be releasing for consultation an explanation for intended effect for an updated affordable housing [state environmental planning policy (SEPP)]. The SEPP will consolidate three existing SEPPs and outline a proposed approach to facilitate supply of affordable housing for local workers. It will include measure to improve the operation of bonus provisions for affordable housing for local and key workers.



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