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Economic theory and the special features of land

These can then be incorporated in the development of strategic and statutory planning documents. This will enable a greater degree of certainty in the application of tools like Inclusionary Zoning1 for affordable housing. The Federal Government to investigate tax incentives, the involvement of superannuation schemes, national affordable housing targets and other incentives to increase the availability of affordable housing and alleviate housing stress amongst lower income.

National approaches should be developed to ensure that the planning systems support and complement these initiatives. Alignment of government incentives and investment in housing — from taxation through to income assistance and direct capital expenditure — with urban planning policy and vice versa. This means: avoiding demand side measures that are inflationary without also ensuring a matching flow of supply; avoiding encouraging over consumption in housing when sustainability goals demand smaller, more energy efficient dwellings and urban form; and matching incentives for housing investment in affordable housing supply, to planning goals and requirements for well located and affordable housing so reducing the potential for socio-spatial polarization and ensuring that affordable housing developers are able to access well located sites without needing to compete on the open market.

The establishment of the National Housing Supply Council is supported to provide up to date information across Australia on the state of housing demand and supply.

Consideration of the potential for public capture of a proportion of the land value increases created by rezonings, or similar planning changes that permit more intensive site use, through appropriate planning requirements and through public land development. Clarity around the separate roles of policy making and development assessment in the planning system.

Strategic housing market assessment

Pricing, standards and regulatory provisions to make the environmental cost of different dwelling forms and neighbourhood designs such as energy and water use and Greenhouse gas emissions transparent and recoverable from the end user and to encourage more sustainable designs. Greater certainty of regulatory and developer contribution requirements.


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Consideration of Inclusionary zoning to require that all identified development within a specified zone includes a contribution towards affordable housing. Implementing programs to reduce housing market transaction costs. Using quasi public development corporations operating according to clear sustainability and affordability goals, to assemble and wholesale sites in key greenfield, brownfield and infill sites.

Involving Government-backed insurance programs to spread the contamination remediation risk in brownfield sites.

Housing Markets and Planning Policy (Buch), Colin Jones

Delivery of home purchase assistance through income transfer, and funding and incentives for affordable housing models including low cost home ownership, rather than reducing existing local infrastructure charging requirements. It is important that public expenditure is maintained on regional infrastructure for example those in the transportation, health and education sectors to maintain affordable and desirable alternative housing markets in outer metropolitan areas and in regional centres.

Funding of such major items can not be dependant on planning-imposed development contributions.


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Supporting the non-government and community housing sector in developing and implementing innovative models of affordable housing. Developing training and recruitment programs to ensure security of skills supply for the housing industry.


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Read more: Affordable housing policy failure still being fuelled by flawed analysis. The most fundamental of these features is fixed location. These features are important when considering the application of standard supply-demand theory to housing markets.

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Economic theory says increasing the supply of a good will lower the price for a given level of demand. Like a lot of economic theory, this is based on simplifying assumptions. The following assumptions are particularly relevant when considering land:. And property developers generally have much more knowledge of the market than individual buyers, potentially giving developers undue influence. The capacity of developers to withhold land from sale and the fact that new developers wanting to enter the market face significant barriers — importantly the financial capacity to hold back land when demand and sales are reduced — are also at odds with the assumptions of supply-demand theory.

UK economist Josh Ryan-Collins notes that current economic theory does not differentiate between land and capital such as machinery.

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This may well be one of the main reasons the special features of land are often overlooked in discussions about housing supply. Read more: Why rents, not property prices, are best to assess housing supply and need-driven demand.

Housing and Planning Delivery Framework

In the past, governments developed more housing directly , but over the past years the role of government has been mainly to enable private developers to provide housing. Governments may release enough land for the expected population, but private developers decide how much housing is offered for sale at any time. This is a logical business strategy, but much of the commentary on housing supply fails to acknowledge this.

In the Gold Coast region, for example, where a relatively small number of larger estates provide most of the new residential land, the median price of vacant residential land has remained remarkably stable since the GFC despite large fluctuations in the number of sales. This suggests something other than the standard supply-demand theory is operating. For new apartments in established suburbs, off-the-plan sales allow developers to test the market before building. If interest in the apartments at prices set by the developer is insufficient, the project will not go ahead.

Of course, there can still be an oversupply of apartments if future demand is overestimated. Read more: Australia's almost a world leader in home building, so that isn't a fix for affordability.