Broken Hill could solve Australia’s housing woes

A buyers agent is calling for Australia’s inland cities to undergo an urban renewal in a bid to help ease the current housing crisis.

Propertyology Head of Research, Simon Pressley, said places like Broken Hill were the ideal locations to undergo urban development and be transformed into vibrant locations like Las Vegas or Abu Dhabi to attract more people from major cities.

“There is no reason at all that Broken Hill couldn’t become one of Australia’s best urban development success stories of the last 50 years,” Mr Pressley said.

He said for half a century, Broken Hill was once one of the most important cities in Australia.

“I believe vision and bravery are the only things standing in the way of Broken Hill evolving into something quite special,” he said.

“The city is cherry ripe for a Maha Sinnathamby, Elon Musk or Richard Branson type.”

Mr Pressley said visionary thinking must be part of an Australian City Building Strategy that should prioritise decentralisation, maximise the potential of Australia’s natural assets, regional expansion, lifestyle quality and housing affordability.

“If such a visionary urban creation was implemented in Broken Hill, it would significantly strengthen connections and produce knock-on benefits for other relatively nearby communities like Swan Hill, Mildura, Dubbo, Cobar, Ivanhoe, Hay, Port Augusta and Port Pirie,” he said.

“It has been many decades since the last genuine visionary success story for Australian city building. 

“Decision makers must cease obsessing over so-called ‘problems’ and put all energies into realising countless exciting possibilities.”

Mr Pressley said there were a number of things that could be implemented in the city to help bring it back to its former glory, including a new university for excellence in the arts, new theatres, affordable houses on quarter-acre blocks, a sporting centre, development of resorts and hotels and airport infrastructure upgrades.

“It is entirely practical for Broken Hill’s population to return to its 1915 peak of 35,000 (much the same size as current day Byron Bay NSW, Warrnambool VIC and Geraldton WA),” he said.

“I am not saying that Broken Hill on its own will solve all things housing in Australia. 

“Keep in mind there are dozens of other great locations, which are also viable candidates as cities for visionary development.”

Mr Pressley said the affordability of Broken Hill was one of the key reasons the plan needed to be looked at.

“A home can currently be acquired in Broken Hill with as little as a $12,500 (5 per cent) deposit for a $250,000 house in reasonable condition,” he said.

“That’s a far more attainable option than 99 per cent of the collective pathetic efforts of state and federal governments.”

“No wonder Broken Hill’s homeownership rate of 42 per cent during the 2021 Census is well above the national average of 31 per cent.

“Already, more people choose to live in Broken Hill than numerous so-called idyllic towns such as and Airlie Beach QLD, Batemans Bay NSW, Bowral NSW, Beechworth VIC, Hanhdorf SA, Kingscliff NSW, Port Douglas QLD, St Helens TAS, Torquay VIC, Victor Harbor SA and Yamba NSW.”

For much of the past 60 years, Australia has produced very few major city transformations, he said.

“It is as if our current ‘urban innovators’ consider being able to walk and chew gum at the same time a success,” he said.

“Instead of boring bureaucrats and bland town planners repetitiously producing yet another ‘plan’ for a cookie-cutter community or Lego city, those responsible for designing Australia’s cities should engage the expertise of the world’s best urban innovators.”

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