Fixing planning absurdities

Melbourne readers may be aware of a recent story about a small bookshop in St Kilda called the Bookhouse.

The Bookhouse leases premises that have been continuously operating as a shop since the 1920s. But it turns out the local council has no record of the shop-front being zoned for business purposes – and so a quiet bookshop is closing and a suburb becomes poorer for it.

While the Bookhouse story is absurd, and there appears to be goodwill by the Council to fix the problem, it is a reminder that our industry faces small to large planning absurdities every day. 

And it is the accumulation of such unnecessarily restrictive planning policies – large and small – across the nation that is acting as a drag on our cities and the economy.

As Professor Ian Harper explained at our Property Leaders’ Summit in Canberra yesterday, competition is the foundation for productivity; and productivity is the foundation for improved living standards.

It’s why we are putting the case for reform of our planning systems and encouraging both sides of politics to use incentive payments to address housing supply and affordability. Deloitte Access Economics has calculated this one reform could create over $3 billion in economic uplift.

This week, industry leaders have been meeting in Canberra to learn, share ideas and reflect on the issues shaping the industry.

A highlight of the Property Leaders Summit was the induction of three industry leaders into the Australian Property Hall of Fame – Sir Keith Campbell, Robert Hamilton and Carol Schwartz AM. You can read more about these icons of our industry in this issue.

We also conveyed National Life Membership on Peter Verwer. Peter worked for the Property Council for over 30 years, including 22 years as chief executive, and took a little known industry association  and transformed it into a respected national organisation. 

Congratulations Peter, and thank you for all that you achieved for our industry.