Demand for employment land and urban services to meet the future needs of the Canberra Region

The Property Council of Australia have released a report prepared by SGS Economics and Planning which highlights the need for more than 330 additional hectares of employment lands by 2050 to meet the population needs of the Canberra Region and ensure local access to urban services.

The report was commissioned by the Property Council and showcased in its 2022 Myer Vandenberg Outlook Series at the Capital Airport Group’s Industrial and Employment Lands deep dive event.

Property Council’s ACT Executive Director Adina Cirson said this highlighted the need for urgent policy review of the appropriate land needed for both employment and services and where these services need to be located across the city to ensure demand is met for commercial uses and best placed to attract new investment.

“These projected increases in the population of Canberra and the region has meant forward planning uses of land should meet the needs of the commercial offering,” Ms Cirson said.

“Canberra’s population is estimated at around 447,000 in 2021, an increase of over 100,000 people over the last twenty years. It is expected to increase by over 110,000, or by around a quarter by 2036, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2022 projections.

“The neighbouring city of Queanbeyan is also expected to grow by 4000 people between now and 2036.

Ms Cirson said she was also seeing a huge spike in demand for all types of industrial use land, unprecedented rental growth, and a very real and immediate shortage of warehouses and premises which not only provide for onsite commercial activity but also support existing business in Canberra who require warehousing facilities.

“As such, in order to maintain Canberra’s per-capita industrial land supply at current levels of at least two hectares per 1000 people, Canberra will need at least 70 hectares of additional industrial land by 2031, in addition to that already planned in the Indicative Land Release Program. An additional 130 hectares will be needed by 2041, and another 130 by 2050. 

“While Queanbeyan is planning to release additional employment lands in South Jerrabomberra, this will not be enough to meet Canberra’s growing industrial land needs, so we really need to be working hard right now to identify and start the work – like environmental approvals – on the land supply we need in the very near future.”

Dr Marcia Keegan, Senior Associate and Partner of SGS Economics and Planning said the report also found that that industrial lands in the ACT contain a mix of uses, with urban services able to best fulfil their purpose by locating close to the populations they serve, but currently not located in growth areas like Gungahlin.

“This means that we may need to review the mix of uses in traditional uses – into urban services land to support the population – like mechanics, plumbers, hardware and similar household service industries, and land used by externally focused businesses – which are the employment generators of the city,” Ms Keegan said.

Ms Cirson said this meant availability of industrial lands need needs to not just increase, but to adapt to the growing and changing needs of the community and businesses so that services remain accessible, can evolve (ie to meet needs of growth in online retail or data centres), and importantly have enough land supply to support the continued diversification of the ACT economy.

“So, the questions we need to ask are how can we ensure we have sufficient industrial and services land to meet these needs; what share of employment lands need to be located close to town centres, versus dedicated industrial precincts, and how do we ensure that existing industrial and services lands maintain their character and use?

“We are really pleased to be able to release this report today – at the same time there is a with a broader strategic planning review being undertaken by the government, and we look forward to continuing our constructive engagement on the issues raised in this insightful report to meet the needs of our growing population,” Ms Cirson said.

You can download the summary report here, the full report here, and the presentation prepared by Ray White and delivered as part of our 2022 Myer Vandenberg Outlook series here.

Media contact: Adina Cirson | 0429 579 972 | [email protected]