Australia: Sydney is reaching a liveability crisis

Professor Percy Allan kindly sent me a copy a report, to which he contributed, on living conditions in Sydney — prepared by the Urban Taskforce. Here are some interesting excerpts:

Over the next 20 years Sydney will need at least 600,000 new homes located in infill sites and in greenfield sites on the fringes of the metropolitan area. But Sydney has not built sufficient homes over recent years with its current production only half that of Victoria on a per capita basis. Already the average house cost in Sydney is one of the highest in the world and this is impacting on affordability for many families. The Sydney median house is $100,000 more expensive than the equivalent in Melbourne. The average weekly earnings of a first homebuyer can afford a mortgage of $331,000 while the average house price in Sydney is $563,300. The lack of housing supply has led to an increase in rents by 40% over the last 5 years…….


Local government has aggravated Sydney’s housing crisis by:
• Not rezoning sufficient land for affordable multiple dwellings,
• Not adopting clear consistent plans and regulations to guide permissible development,
• Not ensuring individual development assessments are independent of political and vested interests,
• Not spending enough on capital works thereby creating a large backlog of unsatisfactory community infrastructure,
• Using depreciation provisions and reserves for non-capital purposes,
• Under-borrowing for infrastructure enhancements thereby forcing new homebuyers to contribute disproportionately towards this end,
• Not sharing the cost of greenfield infrastructure with existing communities that inherited free public assets from previous generations, and
• Not sharing or outsourcing activities that would benefit from economies of scale and scope nor focusing on specific place management to better respond to community needs at a street level.