UDIA land supply report finds new block sizes continue to shrink

THE traditional suburban quarter acre block is nothing but a distant memory, according to the findings of a new report on land supply released last week by the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

The 2014 UDIA State of the Land Report, which was launched at the opening of the UDIA National Congress in Brisbane, has found that the average size of new residential lots is now just one tenth of an acre (423 square metres), after falling 29 per cent in size over the last decade.

"Governments around the country are failing to take action to address the key barriers holding up the supply of land for residential development, and the collapse in new lot sizes is the result of developers trying to maintain the supply of affordable land to the market," said UDIA National President Cameron Shephard.

"Inadequate investment in urban infrastructure, slow planning and approvals systems, and high taxes and charges are strangling the supply of land for new housing, severely damaging housing affordability.

"Unfortunately this means that for new home buyers, the good old days of tossing the footy around with the kids or having a game of backyard cricket are well and truly over."

Sydney and Brisbane saw the greatest declines in median lot size over 2012/2013, with lot sizes falling by 16 per cent and 12 per cent respectively, according to UDIA.

"UDIA strongly supports a diversity of product to the market as some people want a lock and leave lifestyle. What concerns us is that a family can no longer afford a back yard where a family can play and grow," Mr Shephard said.

In addition to new lot size, the 2014 State of the Land Report also evaluates each city against key performance criteria, such as affordability, lot supply, infill performance, taxes and charges, infrastructure provision, and planning system performance.

Over the year, Adelaide and Brisbane saw performance improve on measures such as the provision of infrastructure, and lowering barriers to infill development. However decade low levels of lot production in both Adelaide and Brisbane are an ongoing problem, the report found.

Comparatively, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth performed less favourably, particularly in regard to their planning and approvals systems, and the level of taxes and charges levied on new development.

"UDIA is concerned that housing has fallen off the agenda for Governments around the country. The 2014 UDIA State of the Land Report shows that there are still major problems with land supply and housing affordability across our largest cities, and that Governments need to take urgent action," concluded Mr Shephard.

The 2014 UDIA State of the Land Report contains a number of recommendations to address barriers to sufficient land supply and the provision of affordable housing. Specifically, it says the Federal Government must take greater action to address the shortage of housing in Australia's major cities by:

  • Providing additional funding for investment in new urban infrastructure, in order to unlock land;
  • Auditing Commonwealth land holdings to identify surplus land, and where suitable, make it available for new housing development; and
  • Assisting State Governments with removing stamp duty on property and replacing it with more efficient forms of taxation.

The report also calls on state and local governments to reform their planning systems and reduce taxes on new housing. In particular, the report recommends that local and state governments:

  • Undertake major planning system reform, to increase the supply of urban land and reduce delays and uncertainty associated with zoning, planning and approvals processes; and
  • Reduce up front charges and levies on new housing by favouring the recovery of costs over long time frames, rather than up front.

More information about the 2014 UDIA State of the Land Report is available from the Urban Development Institute of Australia website at <>.

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