Enabling Housing Affordability

New policy settings to ease the housing affordability crisis will be at the heart of Commonwealth and NSW budgets to be handed down in the coming weeks. Beating them both to the punch last month was Federal Labor, with the release of their Housing Affordability Plan.

Many of the opposition’s proposals have the potential to put serious downward pressure on house prices. Others play the Trump card of populist politics by “blaming the foreigner” for rising prices, rather than the taxes, fees and charges baked into the cost of new housing.

So why the flurry of policy activity? Partly it’s the economic imperative to give people housing choice and affordable options as they move through life. But nothing focuses the political class like clear trends in the polls, and the number of people who rate housing as their most important challenge has been rising steadily. That makes housing affordability a high-stakes policy race, because the major party to best address the public’s growing anxiety is likely to attract the all-important swinging voters.

The one thing all sides agree upon is that solutions must be focussed on increasing the supply of new dwellings. In the Hunter, a decade of undersupply has produced a deficit of 16,000 homes and been the principal driver of rising housing prices. The principal cause of that deficit has been a failure to link critical enabling infrastructure – local roads, water, and power - with land on the urban fringes suitable for residential development.

In other words, it’s not the land that is scarce in the Hunter, it’s the local infrastructure that enables that land to be developed into new home sites that is scarce.

And that represents a golden opportunity for the NSW Government to turbo-charge housing supply with a series of modest investments in local infrastructure. Across the Hunter, short-to-medium term funding of shovel-ready, local infrastructure projects can avoid the looming shortfall of 30,000 homes by 2024.

One of those is to complete Stage 1 of the Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange with construction of Pennant Street Bridge. This local infrastructure will alleviate congestion across the Hunter’s second largest employment zone; slashing the daily commute for Cardiff-Glendale’s 11,000 workers, driving productivity improvements for business and improving liveability for residents.

So much more than a piece of roads and transport infrastructure, Pennant Street Bridge is the “missing link” that unlocks 90 hectares of new land for development in an emerging Strategic Centre, helping to solve the Hunter’s chronic housing shortage and ease the affordability crisis.

Pennant Street Bridge is shovel-ready, with detailed designs and costings completed by Lake Macquarie City Council.  A $13 million commitment towards joint funding in June’s state budget could see Pennant Street Bridge completed and fuelling a pipeline of 2,700 new homes and 3,800 local jobs within 18 months.

That’s a quick-win for homebuyers and a stunning dividend for the taxpayer.

With more than $20 billion spent on Sydney’s mega-infrastructure projects in the past year alone, $13 million represents a modest investment in local infrastructure for enabling housing affordability.

 

Brian Bell, Kyle Loades and Kirrily Lord are our expert panel at Hunter Lunch on Friday 12 May

THE LAKE MACQUARIE TRANSPORT INTERCHANGE: Fact or Fiction?

 

Media contact:  Andrew Fletcher | M  0407 410 017  |  E  afletcher@propertycouncil.com.au