Encouraging local councils to play their part in addressing housing affordability and density are among the Property Council Illawarra’s goals for 2018.
Chairperson Mark Jones said one of their key focuses this year was putting an information resource together, based on data being compiled by Cardno, that will look at urban densification.
“(This would focus) particularly around the existing towns and villages, and particularly around transport hubs,” Mr Jones said.
“We’re looking at where are the opportunities for greater density in existing urban centres, that are particularly around transport hubs.”
Deputy chair Jennifer Macquarie said the mapping system “identifies the suburbs where there’s a lot of people living in the highest density, and then identifies the suburbs where there’s a lot of services”.
“It identifies the suburbs where there’s a lot of services right there – trains, schools, shops – in a very accessible area, but there’s not anywhere near the amount of people living there that could be living there,” she said.
“Those maps can be provided in a simple form that shows hot-spots… Areas where there’s a huge amount of services, and we can put some more people in here and give them a lifestyle that’s quite affordable and liveable, because it puts them close to everything they need.
“But then also how do we deal with these new suburbs where there’s a lot of people going in, but not enough services, and when can those services be brought in?”
Ms Macquarie said when the data was compiled, likely within the coming weeks, they would be able to discuss with local councils the areas that needed to be concentrated on.
“I can see aspects will be controversial… Because not every suburb’s going to welcome greater density,” Mr Jones said.
“That’s a conversation we’ve got to have.”
Addressing housing affordability is another priority.
Ms Macquarie said in the past there had been a tendency for local councils to say this wasn’t something they could influence.
“But we think they can… When we first started looking at this, the local councils didn’t have charters or policies around housing affordability,” she said.
“They’re starting to change, and Shoalhaven council has been the most progressive.
“What we’re trying to do is undertake a study that some of the councils have committed to contribute to... It’s really defining the problem locally and defining what councils can do to assist locally.
“Things like changing their DCPs and planning controls to enable a greater variety of small product, and enable innovation in the industry to be able to provide more affordable housing.”
Mr Jones said another goal for the Property Council in 2018 was enlisting peak bodies throughout the Illawarra/Shoalhaven to help prepare a vision statement for the region, enabling the “four councils to work together and be stronger as unit than as separate parts”.