Housing shortage fuels affordability crisis

A CRITICAL shortage of new housing stock is fuelling the Hunter’s housing affordability crisis, according to a peak industry body.

Urban Development Institute of Australia NSW Hunter chapter chair Shane Boslem said that without new land releases, more people would continue to be priced out of the housing and rental markets.

Mr Boslem said only 10 per cent, or 3500 of 35,000 lots, of land rezoned in the Hunter for residential development in the past six years had been delivered to the public for sale.

He said there was a “critical shortage” of new housing stock in the region and not enough was being done to combat the compounding problem.

“Since the inception of the Lower Hunter Regional Strategy in 2006, 35,000 lots have been rezoned for residential purposes,” Mr Boslem said.

“But there is a big problem between the rezoning of land and the delivery of land.”

The Newcastle Herald reported on Saturday that the Hunter’s housing affordability crisis had triggered a demographic shift with thousands of low- and middle-income earners forced to move in with extended family.

Developers across the Hunter say increasingly risky and unfair approval processes, lack of infrastructure co-ordination and uncertainty regarding government levies are making it almost impossible for them to provide affordable land to the public.

“If there is a cost to business in the production of a product, it needs to be recovered, that is the same in all business models,” Mr Boslem said.

“It can only be recovered if the market can afford it and that is what we are seeing at the moment is that the market cannot afford it.”

Founder and director of Hunter-based McDonald Jones Homes, Bill McDonald, said government taxes were “strangling” the system and the community was suffering. In an effort to meet demand for more affordable homes, Mr McDonald’s company has launched a range of house and land packages that are cheaper and smaller than previous releases, priced between $350,000 and $450,000.

Business development manager Shane Bennett said the new homes were aimed at first home buyers and people wanting to downsize.

“Previously we were not catering for that part of the market,” Mr Bennett said.

“Banks are tighter and people need to maintain their lifestyle and that is all the majority of people have to spend.”

The company, which usually builds up to 800 houses a year, plans to build 200 of the new affordable homes in the next year at subdivisions in Aberglasslyn, Rutherford and Thornton.

Purchasers have to pay a deposit and then nothing more until construction is finished.

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