NT acting on housing supply and affordability plans
Minister for Housing and Homelessness Brendan O’Connor today welcomed the release of a new report which recommends ways to enhance housing supply and affordability.
The Housing Supply and Affordability Reform (HSAR) report, by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), recommends measures for all levels of government to ensure more efficient use of existing land and housing stock and reduce unnecessary costs and charges for developers and home buyers.
“The Gillard Government understands that housing affordability is a significant issue for many Australians, especially those on low and moderate incomes. Adequate housing supply is a central response,” Mr O’Connor said.
“Since coming to office, federal Labor has invested more than $20 billion in programs to help people with home ownership and affordable rental housing.
“Indeed, we have made a direct financial contribution to one in every 20 homes built since 2008.
“Housing affordability is not an issue that the Commonwealth can solve alone. It requires the combined effort of governments at all levels as well as the wider private and community sector.”
The HSAR report was developed in close cooperation with the States and Territories and highlights key areas of reform including:
• improving the efficiency of development assessment and rezoning processes;
• increasing transparency around infrastructure charges for developers and home buyers;
• ensuring that government land holdings are being put to the highest value use;
• improving the efficiency and effectiveness of government interventions to ensure the right outcomes; and
• ensuring that the housing market is able to provide the types of homes that Australians actually demand.
It recommends that the States and Territories work towards greater use of code-based frameworks for assessing residential development applications and consider the costs and benefits of local councils’ regulatory proposals before they are allowed to exceed state planning requirements.
It further recommends that they agree to principles for infrastructure charges and that they trial a new set of principles to identify government land that could be used for housing.
“I am encouraged that the Northern Territory is already achieving best practice with regard to a number of the report’s findings, including introducing e-DA or electronic lodging of development applications,” Mr O’Connor said.
“Since July 2010, all development applications in the NT have been lodged electronically through Development Applications Online.
“I am advised that further enhancements of e-DA are under development to allow electronic lodgement of applications for variations to approved developments and compliance certificates.
“These reforms will further help to simplify and streamline the development approval process in the Northern Territory.”
Mr O’Connor said the Gillard Government was also playing its part in implementing recommendations.
“We are conducting a pilot of the principles for assessing under-utilised government land consistent with the report’s recommendations,” Mr O’Connor said.
“In addition, we will continue to work with State and Territory governments to ensure that the objectives, roles and responsibilities of each level of government are clearly defined and the results and effectiveness of the interventions made by each level of government are as transparent as possible.
“I will be discussing how we can continue to progress the recommendations and findings of the HSAR report with State and Territory Housing Ministers at the Select Council on Housing and Homelessness in Perth tomorrow.”
Federal Government programs to tackle housing affordability include the $4.5 billion National Rental Affordability Scheme which is building 50,000 new affordable rental properties, the $100 million Building Better Regional Cities program, the Housing Affordability Fund and the Social Housing Initiative.
“All levels of government will need to keep working to tackle housing affordability to ensure that all Australians can afford a safe, secure and affordable place to call home,” Mr O’Connor said.
The recommendations are below. The full report is available at www.coag.gov.au
Housing Supply and Affordability Reform Report Recommendations:
1. The HSAR Working Party recommends that COAG agree that:
a. jurisdictions will continue to work to improve the efficiency of (including the time frames involved in) referrals, development assessment and rezoning processes;
b. States and Territories will continue to work towards greater use of code-based frameworks for assessing residential development applications as appropriate; and
c. States and Territories will maintain or establish (as applicable) an internal process to ensure state level consideration of the costs and benefits before local councils introduce planning and development requirements that are in addition to or exceed state planning and development requirements. Any proposed changes to existing arrangements in a State or Territory would be subject to the Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) requirements applying in that jurisdiction.
2. The HSAR Working Party recommends that COAG agree to the HSAR Working Party’s four principles (covering efficiency, transparency and accountability, predictability, and equity) on infrastructure charges and to note the associated best practice guidelines.
3. The HSAR Working Party recommends that COAG agree that jurisdictions in which evidence suggests that strata titling arrangements are currently significantly impeding redevelopment will consider policy reforms (this may include modifying the requirement that there be unanimous agreement to proposed changes to strata schemes) to ensure urban renewal opportunities are not negatively impacted by strata titling schemes, having regard to the physical and economic life of dwellings. Any proposed changes to existing arrangements in a State or Territory would be subject to the RIS requirements applying in that jurisdiction.
4. The HSAR Working Party recommends that COAG agree that States and Territories will continue to share information about how their target regimes, particularly dynamic land targets, are currently being applied in relation to housing supply and land release.
5. The HSAR Working Party recommends that COAG agree to the HSAR Working Party’s principles for assessing land holdings to identify government land available for housing and other public needs, and that those jurisdictions that determine that they are not already in effect applying these principles will trial their use with discretion to take other factors into consideration in response to local conditions.
6. The HSAR Working Party recommends that COAG agree that as jurisdictions consider the future of the FHOS, they take account of the HSAR Working Party’s analysis together with other relevant assessments.
7. The HSAR Working Party recommends that COAG agree that the Commonwealth could consider reforming its own housing programs to improve their efficiency and effectiveness as a part of a broader housing reform strategy that is informed by more clearly defined government objectives and the roles and responsibilities of each tier of government.
8. The HSAR Working Party recommends that COAG agree that governments’ roles in supporting diversity in lot size and dwelling mix should focus on ensuring planning policy settings do not constrain the operation of the housing market, noting that targeted interventions may sometimes be required to support equity outcomes and address market failures, such as supporting and promoting innovative housing design options.
9. The HSAR Working Party recommends that COAG agree that the National e DA Steering Committee should transition into the National ePlanning Steering Committee and report to COAG – through the relevant COAG sub group – on a National ePlanning Investment Plan by mid 2012.