Apartment Red Tape Threatens Affordability

The Property Council of Australia warns that Labor’s proposed additional apartment design standards announced today risk driving up costs for Victorian families and first home buyers.

“Victorian families are concerned about their chances in a residential housing market with constrained supply and restrictive planning controls in the CBD. In this context, and only eighteen months since the Government last released apartment standards, we are baffled at the Government’s red tape threats to housing affordability,” said Ms Wall.

The Property Council acknowledges Labor’s commitment to protecting home buyers with good design.

“The property industry supports good design and existing standards which it is meeting but is concerned at adding a further layer of red tape, to make it harder to deliver affordable homes.”

The Property Council is keen to work in a fulsome consultation process to ameliorate red tape on Victorian home buyers.

Key Facts

  • The level of apartment releases in Melbourne has fallen to its lowest point since 2009. Apartment releases in Melbourne have dropped from more than 21,000 in 2016 to less than 9,000 so far in 2018. (Industry data)
  • The property industry’s confidence index in Victoria has dropped by 15 points in the last quarter.
  • The last apartment design standards were introduced in April 2017 (approximately 80 weeks ago) but the average time to complete an apartment in Australia is 84 weeks – we haven’t even seen the last design standards come to fruition yet, so additional measures are unnecessary.
  • Only two apartment buildings have been approved in the CBD against the C270 planning controls (with only 124 apartments between them).
  • Councils already impose construction plans on apartment construction with extensive requirements for construction noise, hours and amenity.

Timeline of red tape threats to Victorian housing affordability

November 2016:

  • The Government introduced C270 CBD planning controls, regulating setbacks, building separation, plot ratios and podium heights. Since the introduction of these controls, only two residential developments have been approved in the CBD.  

February 2017:

  • The Government promised to release 100,000 new housing lots in Victoria by 2018. Barely half that amount has been released, one week before the Government is about to enter caretaker period.

April 2017:

  • The Government introduced Better Apartments Design Standards which at the time, the Government said would "create a higher standard of development, while maintaining affordability" and would ensure "new apartments must offer daylight, storage, ventilation and minimal noise”. The standards also address room depth, accessibility, waste and water, energy efficiency and open space. The Property Council supports these standards.

July 2017:

  • The Government removed stamp duty concessions for investors on off-the-plan developments, reducing the viability of developments. The investor market underwrites new apartment projects, ensuring their viability and enabling construction which adds to total housing supply for purchasers and renters.

Media contact: Cressida Wall | M 0415 831 603 |  E cwall@propertycouncil.com.au