Supply, Supply, Supply!

We don’t disagree with this paper by the NSW Productivity Commission that NSW needs to build more homes ‘where people want to live’. And a lot of them. Over 9000,000 by 2041 (citing NSW Department of Planning and Environment estimates).

And we’re certainly aligned with the view that our cities and towns need to stop sprawling – disconnected from critical services and facilities and, in many cases, in the paths of flood and fire risk.

But the Commissioner can put us in the category of ‘supply sceptics’. As noted in this paper; ‘sceptics’ are those unconvinced that a large increase in housing supply (even in the right places) will lead to a significant and sustainable improvement in housing affordability, especially for low-income people.

We could throw around statistics like those noted by Ben Phillips, Associate Professor at the ANU Centre for Research and Methods regarding the ABS March Quarter 2023 Dwelling data noting that dwellings in Australia have increased by 19.9% over the last decade (outstripping population growth of 15.8%). We might wonder why we didn’t see a commensurate improvement in housing affordability.

What we do know is that the private housing market has consistently and persistently failed lower-income people. For a long time. In the midst of a housing market downturn, now is the time for Governments to step in, to build or buy housing where and when it’s required for lower income people.

At Shelter NSW we’re agnostic on the issue of population growth. It is what it is. What we are clear on is that any growth needs to be fair and inclusive.

NSW needs to immediately restore the social housing safety net to 5% of total housing and commit itself to achieving 10% by 2041. 

We are pleased to see Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Paul Scully announcement today regarding changes to planning rules in order to encourage more affordable housingin large residential developments. Developments worth over $75 million that commit to delivering regulated affordable housing will be offered both a fast-track process and access to very significant floor and height bonuses. This fast tracking will bypass local councils and planning panels.

Shelter NSW generally supports this announcement but is calling for:

  • any affordable housing to be held in perpetuity (not reverting to the private market after 15 years)
  • Community Housing Providers managing the affordable housing to be registered and Not-for-Profit
  • the NSW Government to require high amenity of these buildings and precincts along with the fundamentals of high-quality construction

As our CEO John Engeler said today, “we need to make sure this is a fast track to excellence, not the slow road to ordinary.”

For more information:

  • In parts of Europe, substantial stocks of affordable housing provided by ‘at cost’ providers have not only secured housing for low-middle income people but also put competitive pressure on the private sector. Refer Gerald Koessel, Social Europe May 2023:  The economic case for affordable-housing shared by Julie Lawson, Adjunct Professor International Housing and Urban Research RMIT
  • Creating a better Sydney – And Stronger NSWGood Growth Alliance (of which Shelter NSW is a founding member).
  • Shelter NSW November 2022  Submission on EIE DPE Housing SEPP 2021 noting that the proposed SEPP at that time has similar features to what has been announced today