Modular construction and airspace development form part of plant to ease housing crisis

Building homes with more modular and prefab construction, along with using airspace over existing buildings for new development are among a nine-point plan the Property Council of Australia has announced to solve the nation’s housing crisis.

In a recent address to the National Press Club, Property Council Chief Executive Officer, Mike Zorbas, said it was time for all levels of parliament to work together to collectively solve the supply and affordability challenges facing the housing market.

“My warning to every level of government, to every single parliamentarian is this: grandstanding, gridlock and policy grenades won’t put a roof over anyones heads,” he said.

Mr Zorbas said he was “sick and tired of hearing the whinging” about whether or not the nation will hit the Federal Government’s target of building 1.2 million new homes.

He said the first point on the Property Council’s nine point plan was to “have a proper crack” and strive to reach that target.

Other points included to improve the broken state planning systems and to stop increasing taxes on investment in new projects, particularly in Victoria and NSW.

He also called for backing the government’s industry training improvesments and to complement this with skilled construction trades from overseas as part of a smaller overall intake.

More modular and prefab construction were also among the recommendations, as we using airspace above existing buildings as a first resort for new development, which goes to circular economy considerations.

“Grow the types of housing choice at different stages of life – fix the investment settings for the best kinds of communities – purpose built student accommodation, retirement living communities, and build to rent housing,” Mr Zorbas said of the seventh point on the plan.

Considering the role of regional towns and growth corridors and spending more of the property taxes on social and affordable housing while supporting the vast bulk of the market that is customer-led, rounded out the nine point plan.

Mr Zorbas also revealed Australia was “blessed” with a trifecta of housing supply advantages, including a modest population, a sizeable economy and being the sixth largest nation by landmass, even if much of it is arid.

“Given this trifecta, a million homes by 2029 – our national cabinet agreed target – should, and can be, a modest target in this revenue and land-rich nation,” he said.

“And yet, by all published measures – anywhere – Australia is the one of the global housing supply wooden spooners.”

Mr Zorbas said Australia’s housing supply deficit had largely been born of the failure of past state cabinets, past governments and past parliaments to hold themselves, or local governments, to account for productive housing delivery over the past two decades.

He said the business and the political sectors of the nation had to band together to meet the housing supply targets.

“The paramount idea I leave with you is the grand housing partnership that needs, especially state parliaments, above all other things, to publicly commit their treasuries and their planning systems to deliver better supply and choice of housing to a changing and ageing population at a scale and an affordability level that we have failed to manage in the past,” Mr Zorbas said.

“This unprecedented era of partnership is needed across parliaments – not just National Cabinet – not just premiers, treasurers and planning ministers – but all parliamentarians, with industry and the profit for purpose sector to fix our capital and regional cities and solve the structural causes of the housing crisis.

“Let’s create the right approval systems and champion housing and building our cities, project by project, not just as the productive physical bricks and mortar that we need but the social infrastructure the nation needs.

The final call to action is simple – let’s give this challenging issue a crack together.”

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