Many say there is only one way to fix the housing crisis in the ACT – build more homes and make more of them affordable.
But when everyone from developers, builders, first-home buyers and social housing advocates are screaming for more land for housing, the Suburban Land Agency – the government monopoly land provider – is failing to hit what some already say are low targets for land release.
Its 2022-22 annual report shows that the Indicative Land Release Program (ILRP) fell 18 per cent short last financial year for single residential lots and a massive 77 per cent for mixed-use developments (measured in square metres), where many of the ACT’s apartments are found.
This occurred in what the SLA said was a year of high demand for single residential land across all of our estates and a record number of sales of single residential blocks.
The target for single residences was 4737 dwellings, but the SLA could only offer 3904, including re-releases.
The report says 2626 dwellings were new releases, while 1278 dwellings were re-releases.
Reasons for not meeting the 2021-22 target included approval delays, the need for more studies and engagement and matters beyond the SLA’s control.
The release of about 200 dwellings in the Gungahlin suburb of Jacka was delayed due to a dispute in ACAT with Paul Carmody, the leaseholder of the Elm Grove property.
That was resolved in August when Mr Carmody withdrew his case. The first release of land is expected in early 2023, with Jacka Stage 2 to follow in 2024.
A combined total of 715 dwellings was delayed in Casey, Kingston, Holt and Oaks Estate as due diligence still needed to be done, and in Kingston because of government consideration of a potential demonstration housing proposal.
The re-release of only part of the site in Lawson meant a shortfall of 643 dwellings, and in Turner, 88 dwellings, with the rest of the site allocated to the Build-to-Rent pilot project.
A release in Gungahlin (300 dwellings) was deferred due to a request from government for additional studies and engagement activities, and Belconnen S151 (500 dwellings) was a re-release after initially being released in 2020-21.
Approval delays held back 42 dwellings in Macnamara in Ginninderry.
These were partially offset by the addition of more sites in Denman Prospect (700 dwellings), sites associated with the Whitlam local centre (300 dwellings), Taylor (4 dwellings), and a site in Holt (30 dwellings) originally scheduled for 2022-23.
There was also the Belconnen S152 re-release, one site in Wright and sites in Taylor (20 dwellings).
In the mixed-use category, the target was 71,917 sqm but the SLA could only achieve 16,300 sqm.
This was because the release in Kingston (28,896 sqm) was delayed while due diligence was still being done, and the potential demonstration housing proposal required planning and legislative processes to be finalised.
Also to blame was the partial re-release in Turner (7702 sqm) where the BTR pilot is to take place, and the deferral in Lawson (19,650 sqm).
The SLA also fell short of its public housing target, achieving only 88 of the 155 aimed for, or 43 per cent less.
Sites in Jacka and Gungahlin were not ready for release, and Housing ACT could not find enough suitable sites in Strathnairn.
But the SLA did surpass its targets for its target for Affordable and Community dwellings.
The Affordable target was 122, but the SLA achieved 66 per cent more with 196 dwellings, thanks to extra sites in Strathnairn.
But targets for Gungahlin, Holt and Jacka were not achieved as the sites were not ready for release.
More sites in Denman Prospect allowed the release of 34 Community dwellings, four more than forecast.
For this financial year, the SLA aims to release land for 3,918 dwellings and mixed-use land totalling 35,945 sqm.
It has set a target of 208 Affordable, 30 Community and 76 Public – totalling 314 dwelling releases or 15.4 per cent of the 2039 eligible residential releases in the ILRP for 2022-23.
The annual report said revenue for land sales was $547.8 million, largely driven by residential greenfield estates in Molonglo, Gungahlin and West Belconnen, and more than expected.
It said 1135 single residential dwellings were sold for a total of $416,319,058, excluding public housing, while land for 1785 multi-unit and mixed-use residential dwellings sold for a total of $109,732,066.
The operating surplus was $212.2 million and the SLA put $226.9 million into government coffers in 2021-22.
“Our outlook is positive with strong market demand for land continuing, although uncertainties related to availability of land, rising interest rates and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic remain,” CEO John Dietz said.