Overdevelopment in Canberra is shaping up to be a key election issue after it was revealed that the lion’s share of land released in the ACT over the last five years was for apartment blocks and compact dwellings.
Over the last six financial years, the percentage of single dwelling blocks has not risen above 28 per cent, and fell as low as 9 per cent in 2014/15. This compares with 64 per cent in 2010/11, and more than 50 per cent in both 2008/09 and 2012/13.
The ACT Government has also missed its land release target by 3,500 lots since the 2008/09 financial year.
Opposition Leader Alistair Coe said there was plenty of land that can still be allocated in Canberra, but did not detail what land the Liberals would release if they came to power in October.
“You have the Government buying paddocks, supposedly for suburban development, yet on the other hand saying we do not have any land in the ACT – there are plenty of opportunities for land release in the ACT,” Mr Coe said.
“We know that west of Weston Creek, and west of Belconnen there are still huge amounts of land that are available for suburban development.
“At more than $1000 a square metre, so many Canberra families are locked out of the ACT.”
The ACT Government hit back claiming the Liberals plan will “slash the value of land and send the housing market crashing”.
“Any family that has a mortgage or fully owns their own home will see the value of their home reduced. Those who purchased recently and do not have a lot of equity in their home may find themselves in negative equity,” a spokesperson for Planning and Land Management Minister Mick Gentleman said.
“Households come in all shapes and sizes. Our housing market and land release program needs to reflect that diversity. Of the 170,000 dwellings in Canberra, around 110,000 or 63 per cent are single residential homes.
“The Government is continuing to deliver land for both single, freestanding homes and multi-unit developments such as apartments, townhouses and retirement villages to cater for people in different stages of life and with various needs.”
There are still over 350 blocks of land for sale in the ACT, the spokesperson said.
Shadow Housing Minister Mark Parton said that while there will always be a place for infill development in Canberra, Mr Barr had put too much emphasis on apartments.
“There is no place to put the trampoline in a two or three-bedroom apartment,” he said.
“I spent some time during the NSW election doorknocking in Googong, and most of the people I came across were refugees from Tuggeranong.
“They wanted to build something in Canberra but couldn’t.”
The Liberals also criticised the Government for forcing young Canberran families out of the market and out of the ACT in their search for single dwelling houses because of the inadequate amount of land being released.
“What we want to do is release things to the market that the market actually wants and if you read the Auditor-General’s report that was released last week into land supply, one of the most scathing aspects was the affordable housing program,” Mr Parton said.
“Those in that space said, ‘we want standalone houses and three bedrooms’, and that is not what they were offered.”
Canberra remains one of the most expensive cities in Australia, with a median house price of just under $790,000 and a median unit price of just over $455,000 according to a recent Domain report.
This was an increase in the median price of 7.3 per cent for houses and 4 per cent for units in the December 2019 quarter, the report said.