16 February 2024

Berry told new planning system a lemon, developer licensing a disaster

| Ian Bushnell
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Apartment construction and crane

The property industry is worried the new planning system won’t deliver the quantity of new housing required. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Housing and Suburban Development Minister Yvette Berry has called on the property industry to work with the government to meet its housing targets, but one developer has given short shrift to its policies, calling the new planning system a lemon, developer licensing a disaster and slamming approval delays.

Ms Berry told industry members at the Property Council’s ACT Residential and Planning Outlook event that the government was doing much to boost housing supply, but it simply could not do it alone.

“That’s why we need to work with you, the Property Council, and anybody else who has skin in the game in addressing this housing crisis,” she said.

“Work with us in addressing this housing crisis and meet the needs of our growing population and make the most of the opportunities that this momentum we have before us presents in building a more sustainable, more livable and more connected Canberra.

“Together, we’re going to have to build 100,000 homes by 2050. I think we can do it.”

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But panel member Rob Speight, senior development manager at Evri Group, poured cold water on the capacity of the new planning system and the bureaucracy to deliver 4000 new homes a year.

“We all had great visions for collaboration,” he said, “but I think we’ve been sold a lemon.”

Mr Speight feared that the new outcomes-based planning system would not shape up for what it was meant to be.

“This legislation needs exceedingly bright and motivated minds inside the directorate to make this thing happen and it needs those people to pull the city along in its wake to get us there,” he said.

“The experience I’m having is that we’re not getting that kind of custodianship out of our planning authority.”

Mr Speight said developers knew where they stood with the old rules-based system, but now they didn’t.

“It’s very confusing,” he said.

Mr Speight said that delivering the government’s target of 4000 homes a year meant 80 approvals a week, something he could not see happening with the current planning bureaucracy, approval times and level of red tape land release.

He called legislation for licensing developers a disaster that would increase risk, impact the ability to finance projects and lead to big developers dominating the industry.

“I am not worried about the quality mandate. I am worried about the financing aspect,” he said.

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Mr Speight said some developers had incredibly deep pockets, but others needed to get finance from preferred lenders.

“We’re asking for duopolies,” he said. “I think it’s going to be really hard for anyone to get into this space once the door’s closed.”

Deputy Under Treasurer and Coordinator General for Housing Stephen Miners, also on the panel, urged the industry to keep talking with the government, saying the legislation would evolve.

He also defended the government limit of 120 square metres for dual occupancy developments in RZ1 areas, saying it offered the biggest land release in Canberra’s history and keeping these new homes to such a size would ensure that they would be affordable.

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Berry is a lemon

GrumpyGrandpa10:18 pm 17 Feb 24

It’s no real surprise that industry representatives aren’t in favour of developer licensing laws.

What about the people who put their life savings into a sub-standard building?

If industry standards were higher, laws wouldn’t be required.

Yeah and maybe private certifiers aren’t such a great idea either!

Of course its gotta be quantity before quality of planning and construction. You set a target and too bad about those pesky bits of ‘red tape’ (like consumer protection).

Berry has had years to come up with a plan of action, and all she can come up with is to beg for profit private business to work with her? to what end? Loosing money lowering the cost of housing. Berry is utterly clueless. If housing is to be made affordable it will only happen through direct government action.

HiddenDragon9:10 pm 16 Feb 24

Over-promising and under-delivering – what’s new?

With the occasional shining exception, that has been the story of public administration in the ACT, certainly in the period since self government when what was and still is, at heart, a stolid municipal bureaucracy has had to deal with the sideshow of players thrown up by our quaint little political system, their retinues of dilettante advisors, spinners and sundry other operatives and all of the consequent influences and idiocies.

Radical change to the ACT planning system was not a good idea at the same time as the Big Australia maniacs in the federal government were exerting huge pressure on the states and territories to house all the new arrivals. After a period of denial (some time after the next ACT election), the most likely outcome will be a panicked slashing of standards but retention of an “outcomes focus” – i.e. let ‘er rip – which will be cheered on by some, but loathed by the many who will be on the rough end of that particular pineapple.

But what about the quality of the product developers & builders are producing? Apartment buildings are still being constructed with defects that take owners years and tens of thousands of dollars to get rectify, if they are able to at all. The building construction standards & quality are unregulated and overseen by a certifier that is employed by the builder, how crazy is that? Then after building completion there are massive problems with rogue strata managers in another unregulated system. You would have to be crazy to purchase an apartment in the ACT.

The crappy builds started years ago with the introduction of building Certifiers , then we allowed imported “skilled”tradesmen, most of tradies today can barely do there job , cause they have never been trained

Maybe if Ms Berry’s government didn’t produce such a dud of a new Planning Strategy they might have had a chance of better infill and increasing our population density.

When your key urban planning change was focused on putting an extra granny flat style dwelling on an RZ1 block in the outer suburbs of Canberra, then it’s no wonder the Deputy Chief Minister is now out pleading with the building industry to help construct new dwellings.

The ACT’s new planning strategy is the laughing stock of architects and urban planners not just in Canberra but across the nation and beyond.

Bj_ACT. Couldn’t agree with you more bj. It’s a ridiculous strategy. I live in an area where all blocks are over 800sqm and we’re developed decades ago and houses sited to take advantage of the block (as most places do). There is simply no room for granny flats in most of these blocks nor the ability for parking. Likewise the block size allowed the owners children to play safely in the garden and now grandkids. Something lacking in the government’s understanding.

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