Set housing targets at train stations, pay councils to meet them, says the developer lobby

Not all LGAs would be subject to such a high mandate; for example, western Sydney councils and those in Newcastle or the Central Coast would be expected to have more low- and medium-density housing development.

The forthcoming city and southwest metro line, and later the CBD to Parramatta line, have been earmarked for higher density development but without a clear framework about how much, how soon and how it will happen.

For example, the government decoupled plans for apartment towers above the Crows Nest metro station from the station itself following community opposition – and although the concept plans have now been approved, they only deal with the space directly above the station, not the suburb itself.

The Property Council urges the next government to create a “housing incentive fund” that would financially reward councils that exceed their set housing targets, and seek a co-contribution from the Commonwealth.

It also supports a scheme frequently advocated by the industry that would give developers bonus height and floor space for social and affordable housing – which could revert to market-rate after, say, 10 years.

The lobby group’s submission also challenges the election winner to enforce housing targets on its own government agencies – including Landcom, Crown Lands and the Transport Asset Holding Entity – when redeveloping public land such as the massive Bays Precinct project.

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“They actually have at their disposal these policy levers which are most easily pulled on land they already own,” Cirson said.

The state government’s Greater Sydney Urban Development Program dashboard shows dwelling approvals peaked at almost 60,000 in the year to September 2016 – more than half of them high-density – while completions peaked above 42,000 in the year to June 2019.

The most recent figures available – for the June quarter 2022 – show approvals running at 36,000 a year (about 15 per cent below the five-year average) and completions just below 25,000 (nearly 30 per cent below the five-year average). Blacktown LGA was the engine room of Sydney’s housing growth last financial year, with 4553 completions.

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