A national survey pointing to worsening delays in development assessment for housing projects confirmed that a major overhaul of existing development assessment regimes in Australia was overdue, the Residential Development Council said today.
The RDC was responding to the survey conducted by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, released today.
The Residential Development Council – a national division of the influential Property Council of Australia - represents the interests of leading residential developers in Australia, with a leadership drawn from the Chief Executives of Stockland, Mirvac, Australand, Multiplex, Meriton and Lend Lease.
“The average punter is paying more for housing than they need to, simply because our systems of development assessment and approval are cumbersome, antiquated and as this survey shows, they’re getting worse,” said Ross Elliott, the Executive Director of the Residential Development Council.
In 1995, the Productivity Commission identified potential savings of $1 billion per annum which could result from improvements to planning and building regulations and process – a figure which today could be substantially higher, according to Mr Elliott.
“The plethora of excuses offered by agencies responsible for development assessment is just no longer excusable: this is a drain on the national economy, it’s adding to housing costs for no discernible benefit and cannot be explained away by references to community interest.”
The RAIA survey found that the average time taken for an approval for a home renovation project was worst in Victoria, at 23 weeks (up from 16 weeks in 2000); that new homes could take on average 25 weeks for approval in Victoria (up from 20 weeks in 2000); and medium density housing was taking on average 33 weeks in New South Wales, 28 weeks in Victoria and up to 44 weeks – almost a year – in the ACT.
“There really is no logical reason why a straightforward application for a new home should take six months in Victoria, five months in NSW and three months in Queensland, while places like West Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory can manage it in eight weeks,” Mr Elliott said.
“Just as alarming is that the time taken to process medium density has blown out severely across the board: from four to eight months in Queensland, from six to nine months in Victoria, from six to eight months in New South Wales and from two to four months in West Australia.”
“Medium density housing is being heralded by government planners as a part solution to sprawl, but it seems we are finding it harder to approve, instead of easier, adding to housing costs and detracting from affordability in the process,” he said.
The large variations from jurisdiction to jurisdiction could not be explained away by local circumstance but were evidence of systemic failure in how the nation manages the supply of housing for its people, he said.
Mr Elliott said a more efficient approach to governance systems which surrounded development assessment was the solution.
“The Development Assessment Forum – a forum empowered by Planning Ministers to identify improvements - has already proposed a series of measures which, if adopted, would mean the community will get better planning decisions and the consumer will benefit from improved efficiency.”
“What remains is for the Federal Government, along with State and Territory Planning Ministers, to endorse the DAF recommendations and work with local authorities to benchmark acceptable performance and promote reform to national standards.”
“The Residential Development Council fully supports the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and other development and industry groups who have been pressing for reform in this area.”
Mr Elliott said the RDC were also conducting detailed research into the cost impacts of various aspects of development assessment and developer requirements, on the cost of housing nationally. The findings would be ready prior to Christmas.
For further information:
Contact Ross Elliott, 0407 177 591 or (07) 3225 3000