CONTRIBUTING TO THE AFFORDABILITY EQUATION // ADDRESSING AUSTRALIA’S HOUSING CRISIS
At VIA, we recognise the broad range of challenges that the property industry is currently facing. The lack of housing supply and affordability confronting the nation can be attributed to a number of factors, including high-interest rates, soaring immigration, problematic government policies and opposition from local communities towards new developments.
The latest report from the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation has warned of a significant shortfall of 106,000 new dwellings by 2027, and 79,000 homes over the next decade. The report highlights that higher levels of migration are putting pressure on rental prices, particularly due to a lack of corresponding increases in supply.
The Domain Rent Report shows that house rents have reached a record high in all capital cities, with rents in Melbourne alone increasing by up to 20% in the 12-months to December 2022. The national rental vacancy rate as of February 2023 is at a record low of 0.8%.
In a promising step towards supply relief, the Labor government recently proposed a tax break that could boost foreign investment in the build-to-rent sector specifically, helping to deliver as many as 150,000 apartments over the next decade. The proposed tax reduction could bring the investment rate down from 30 to 15 per cent, in line with other commercial real estate investments.
Experts unanimously agree on the critical need for an influx of medium and high-density developments in Melbourne’s inner and middle-ring suburbs, supplying a range of housing options that cater to varying household sizes, incomes, and lifestyles. In order to achieve this, Victoria’s planning policies require urgent reform.
The state’s growth areas are facing increased demand due to the lack of supply and soaring prices in inner suburbs, causing a problematic deviation from Plan Melbourne’s target of a 70/30 mix of infill vs greenfield developments. To address this issue, the government must prioritise building its development pipeline back up in key industrial and employment precincts. This would in turn support job growth, provide ease of living, and enable the recalibration of Plan Melbourne’s goal to better address the current demand and supply situation.
Ineffective local governments are further contributing to the crisis, with planning permit approvals currently sitting with VCAT for a prolonged 12-24 months. Zoning restriction and residents who are opposing new and affordable developments in their suburbs (often referred to as “nimbys”) are exasperating these delays, in turn driving up house prices and rents.
Despite the challenging economic conditions and one of the worst housing affordability crises on record, it is important to view difficult circumstances as opportunities to drive change and advancements. Good design plays a crucial role in this process, and while said “nimbys” fear change, they appreciate well-designed developments that respect and enhance existing streetscapes once they are completed.
As a practice, we hold a proven track record of delivering high-quality designs that seamlessly integrate into sensitive suburbs where opposition is often most vocal. We recognise the need to educate existing residents on the benefits of new developments and to dispel their apprehension through empathetic design.
Our architectural ethos prioritises real human need, considering complex social, societal and environmental factors throughout the design process. We are committed to advocating for projects and policies that improve the lives of Australians and our communities.
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