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Australia ACT government outlines plans to deliver 30,000 new homes over five years, including build-to-rent

02:11  31 july  2022
02:11  31 july  2022 Source:   msn.com

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The ACT government wants to increase Canberra's housing stock to 210,000 dwellings over the next five years.  (Supplied: ACT government) © Provided by ABC Business The ACT government wants to increase Canberra's housing stock to 210,000 dwellings over the next five years.  (Supplied: ACT government)

An extra 30,000 homes will be built in Canberra over the next five years under the ACT government's plan to significantly increase the city's housing supply to meet population growth.

The housing package in next week's territory budget will include the release of land for 16,500 dwellings, plans for a build-to-rent scheme and an extra $30 million for public housing growth and renewal projects.

"To give some context, we currently have around 180,000 dwellings in the territory and we believe that we will need that to grow to around 210,000 over the next five years," Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.

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"That's reflective of the sort of population growth that the city has experienced."

Build-to-rent scheme aims to lift vacancy rate

The government hopes its build-to-rent scheme will add 5,000 rental dwellings to the 50,000 homes currently leased in the capital.

Mr Barr said that should raise the rental vacancy rate from below 1 per cent to above 3 per cent.

"We need 10 or 20 large-scale investors who are going to hold, in build-to-rent format, rental properties for 20 years and give tenants five or 10-year leases — not this sort of rolling, 12-month arrangement," he said.

"I think this is a better model because the properties that are built are built specifically to be rented.

"The owner understands that they are rented for the duration and, from the renter's perspective, you get a purpose-built product and the potential for a much longer-term lease with a landlord that is onsite to meet your needs."

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The government has released a prospectus to attract investors and has chosen a site on Northbourne Avenue in Turner for its affordable build-to-rent pilot project.

Housing options to address 'missing middle'

Mr Barr said there was growing demand for housing for one- and two-person households, and the new policy aimed to offer choice.

"That doesn't always have to be answered by apartments," Mr Barr said.

"The planning reforms and a number of the land releases that we're pursuing would be for what I would describe as 'the missing middle': medium-density.

"So not high-rise apartments but also not stand-alone large homes for one and two-person households.

"Of course, there will still be demand for family-style housing, but that is the predominant existing housing stock in the ACT."

Mr Barr said land would be released "north, south, east and west of the lake", but that he had ruled out any development west of the Tuggeranong town centre.

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"There's been decades of environmental study that have indicated that that land is not suitable, in an environmental context, but also it would be incredibly expensive to develop," he said.

"So, it wouldn't be an answer to affordable housing. It would be incredibly expensive housing and it would damage the environment.

"There are other locations within the ACT that are more suitable, that do less environmental damage, would be cheaper to build the infrastructure and, so, would lead to more-affordable housing."

The ACT government also plans to work closely with the Commonwealth on social housing and is seeking a partnership to redevelop the former CSIRO Ginninderra site and renew the Australian Institute of Sport precinct.

"There's an opportunity for mixed-use development there [at the AIS] that would see some additional housing go into a precinct that, potentially, would also see revitalised sporting facilities, hotels, bars and restaurants and other amenities that would see it as an attractive precinct," Mr Barr said.

Rental initiatives 'step in the right direction'

Rental advocate Joel Dignam, from Better Renting, welcomed the government's budget initiatives as a "step in the right direction".

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"Build-to-rent can be an interesting addition to that, particularly at the top end of the market, where people can pay those higher rents," he said.

"That can help to free up supply across the board.

"We are really keen to make sure there are still supplies targeted to people on lower incomes, and that often does mean public housing, community housing and that has to be an important approach as well."

However, he said, the build-to-rent program would need to be implemented well.

"We certainly can't assume, or take it for granted, that build-to-rent will mean more secure tenancy or more affordable renting," he said.

"Although it can be a step in the right direction, it will be really important that we keep a close eye on that and make sure that it is going to provide stable, affordable homes for people and not just getting some developers rich."

ACT government 'wedded to infill'

ACT opposition leader Elizabeth Lee said the government was "strangling land supply" in the middle of Canberra's housing crisis.

"It is absolutely and abundantly clear that this Labor-Greens government is wedded to an infill policy that is clearly not meeting the needs of the Canberra community," she said.

"You just have to have a look at the fact that we had almost 20,000 application for the last two land ballots, which had only 152 blocks available."

Ms Lee said the government needed to provide Canberrans with "genuine choice".

"We will look further into the detail of this … but, even just based on the figures that the Chief Minister has put on the table, we're talking about an extra couple of hundred new blocks for detached housing over the next couple of years," she said.

"Is just over 200 more blocks per year going to have much impact in relation to the clear demand that is out there?"


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