Brisbane’s backyards were in trouble. That was the line from the country’s largest local government in 2018, when it announced plans to ban townhouses and units in low-density parts of the Queensland capital.
The move by then-LNP lord mayor Graham Quirk, in the face of “cookie cutter” townhouses and apartment buildings appearing on adjacent blocks grabbed by developers, raised questions among some experts about the potential for unintended consequences.
Then planning minister Cameron Dick, who would need to eventually sign off on changes to relevant laws, was also concerned. To address reservations about the long-term effects on housing supply, diversity and affordability, Dick made his support conditional in early 2020.
In a ministerial condition, he said the council had to also “prepare and finalise an evidence-driven, comprehensive, conclusive and detailed housing strategy for the local government area” within 12 months.
More than two years later — after a pandemic that swept the globe, further bolstering the city’s nation-leading population growth as housing costs climbed and availability plummeted — such a plan still does not exist.
The council puts down that delay to the pandemic. In response to questions from this masthead, a spokeswoman said the council was committed to addressing the housing needs of residents and working to understand the effect of the cost of living increases.
“We have undertaken extensive research and engaged key stakeholders to understand housing needs in Brisbane; however, the coronavirus pandemic has seriously impacted Brisbane’s strategic housing demands and further research is being undertaken to fully understand changes to future housing directions,” she said in a statement.
“The state government is required to review their plan every five years. We have requested a timeframe for this review, which may influence the delivery of council’s housing strategy.”
Alongside its budget handed down last month, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner announced higher rates for short-stay leased properties and a new effort to open up housing in underused commercial areas while “ensuring that our existing low-density areas stay low density”.
But the state government disagrees with the council’s take on the situation regional plan. A spokeswoman for Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning said there was no such timeframe requirement for a review.
“The current SEQ Regional Plan (ShapingSEQ 2017) is a strategic plan to guide development over 25 years. It includes a note that regional plans are reviewed generally every five to seven years,” she said in a statement.
“A fit-for-purpose housing strategy is an important forward-planning tool to ensure that each local government area has a clear plan for residential growth now and into the future.”
Even outside any review of the regional plan, the department spokeswoman said, a housing strategy would help ensure short-term solutions such as the council’s suburban renewal precinct initiative were “clearly connected to and justified by the evidence base”.
Deputy Premier and Planning Minister Steven Miles said people and businesses were moving to Queensland in droves for its lifestyle, increasing demand on land supply and adding pressure to the housing market.
“This growth will continue into the future; we’re expecting an extra 1.5 million people to be living in SEQ by 2041, which is why it’s important to plan for infrastructure to meet the demand,” Miles said.
“I welcome Brisbane City Council’s commitment to planning for more residential precincts. I also look forward to the finalisation of council’s housing strategy.”
The population growth experienced in Queensland and its south-east corner across the past decade was not expected to be quite so high.
Treasury projections from 2011, when the state’s population sat around 4.3 million, tipped a slowing of growth to 2021 and again to 2056. Under high-growth assumptions, the state’s population was projected to rise by an average of 2.3 per cent a year to last year.
This week’s Census data, capture in August 2021, revealed a more than 20 per cent jump across the decade to 5.2 million. The population growth in greater Brisbane outstripped all but Melbourne and Perth.
The Brisbane council area alone now houses about 1.24 million — up 19.29 per cent since 2011.
Census data also revealed another change: the proportion of detached houses in Greater Brisbane had dropped to 73.4 per cent from 79 per cent a decade ago.
Not quite mirroring the shift in that figure, to a share of 14.7 per cent of the places Queenslanders now call home, were flats and apartments.
Article source: www.brisbanetimes.com.au