National Urban Policy a move in the right direction for housing
The Federal Government recently launched its National Urban Policy – Our Cities, Our Futures: a national urban policy for a productive, sustainable, liveable future. The document set out a strategy for the planning and infrastructure priorities of Australian cities, both in the short and medium to long term future.
From a property perspective, essentially the policy is a positive step towards defining a long-term, national vision for affordable housing in Australian cities, in that it goes some way in recognising that there are fundamental issues concerning housing supply and affordability.
The policy takes a top down approach to enhancing Australia’s long-term productivity, sustainability and liveability, and amongst a variety of other projects relevant to planning in Australia’s cities, identifies a series of short-term and medium to long-term Government initiatives to improve the supply of appropriate mixed income housing.
Such actions include progressing reforms to deliver greater housing supply and affordability and superior zoning and planning approvals processes. Additionally, the policy supports the priority approval and construction of aged care housing, with a focus on integrating such housing with urban areas.
While, the policy looks to outline some positive, much needed objectives to address the state of housing in Australia, an aspect of concern is that there is not a huge amount of detail explaining the practical actions that will be required to achieve the desired outcomes. I will certainly be watching out for further news from the Government about the tasks they will be carrying out to implement this vision.
Having said all of this, in any debate about housing, there needs to be recognition that the property situation in some locations does not necessarily apply everywhere. While Australia as a whole does have a housing shortage (this was estimated to be approximately 200,000 dwellings by the Federal Government’s Housing Supply Council report in 2010), there are other areas that are already overweighed with affordable housing, where the benefits intended by this policy may not be as applicable.
I hope that the Government’s top-down approach, where it effectively will weigh in on the planning functions of cities, is not to the detriment of certain such areas.
In any case, in the words of our Chairman and Owner Charles Tarbey, I hope that the Government is serious about implementing the vision as set out in the National Urban Policy, as the ability of many Australians to afford housing may eventually depend upon it.