National planning report card sounds warning on housing affordability

Poor planning is holding up new housing and adding to costs for home buyers, finds the most comprehensive national assessment of Australia’s planning framework ever undertaken.

The 2015 Development Assessment Report Card (3rd Edition) commissioned by the Property Council of Australia shows that more than a decade after agreeing to ten national principles for best practice development assessment, Australia’s states and territories are still lagging.

Chief Executive Ken Morrison said the report shows most states and territories are making positive changes but urgently need to step up their planning reform efforts to take pressure off house prices.

“Planning needs to be recognised as a tool to drive economic growth and address housing affordability – report card scores ranging from 5.6 to 7.7 simply don’t cut it,” Mr Morrison said.

“While the scores reveal some gradual improvements against the planning principles, the results are still decidedly average across all Australian jurisdictions, stifling new housing, increasing costs and impacting affordability.

“Poor planning and antiquated development assessment processes significantly drive up the price of housing and commercial projects.

“The only really effective way to make housing more affordable is to build more homes, build them faster and at lower cost.

“Our planning processes are the key to all these solutions.

“The slow progress provides a leadership opportunity for the Commonwealth to incentivise reform to radically simplify processes, get more housing built and improve affordability.

“Just last month the Harper Competition Inquiry called for such an incentive system to be created to kick-start a new wave of productivity growth modelled on the successful experience of the 1990s.

“This type of incentive could be a game changer and should be on the Government’s federation reform agenda.

“Getting this right will boost housing construction which is not only good for affordability, but keeps the economy strong and provides tax revenues for governments.”

Residential Development Council Executive Director Nick Proud said streamlining development assessment processes will improve housing affordability by reducing the costs and delays the current politically charged and complex processes create.

“Some states and territories have grasped the importance of planning reform, most notably the Northern Territory and Western Australia which both have independent decision making processes and clear strategic direction to guide development activity,” Mr Proud said.

“But NSW is falling behind and there is uncertainty over reform efforts in other populous states and this is where we need more action.”

In addition to a series of state and territory based reforms, the report puts forward five key recommendations for reform, including:

Zone more land for housing in inner, middle and outer ring suburbs
Simpler planning systems and faster less politicised processes
Less taxes on the production of new housing to lower prices for purchasers
Link housing and jobs through new infrastructure and ensure new projects are accompanied by a housing and renewal growth plan
Incentivise reform through federal leadership

A copy of the report is available at www.propertycouncil.com.au

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