In July 2021 the NSW Government established a Regional Housing Taskforce (the Taskforce) in response to increasing pressures on the supply and affordability of housing in Regional NSW.
A combination of factors is putting more pressure on housing supply in regional NSW. COVID-19, changing patterns of work, investment in regional industries, and the regions’ attractive lifestyle have meant that more people are choosing to stay in or move to the regions. This migration, along with demographic shifts, is changing the nature of housing demand in the regions. Regional communities have also had to adapt in the wake of natural disasters and shocks, which have placed strain on existing housing.
The Taskforce was charged with investigating regional housing issues and the planning barriers people are experiencing in buying, renting and building a place to live in the regions.
Recommendations Report handed to Minister
The Taskforce has prepared an independent Recommendations Report that it handed to the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes on 29 October 2021.
The report outlines suggested ways the planning system can better facilitate the delivery of an adequate supply of diverse and affordable housing that addresses the needs of regional communities.
The Recommendations Report is informed by the Taskforce’s Findings Report that was handed to Minister Stokes in September 2021. That report distilled key findings from the consultation, engagement and research the Taskforce undertook with a broad array of stakeholders during July and August.
The Taskforce found that the challenges in delivering an adequate supply of diverse and affordable housing that meets the needs of regional communities are many and varied. The task for Government and the planning system is not simply to increase the supply of housing generally, but to provide a diverse range of housing that supports the full spectrum of housing needs in regional communities now and into the future.
The Recommendations Report identifies eight principles to serve as a foundation for decision-making and guide reform of policies and processes to increasing housing supply and improve housing outcomes across regional NSW:
- Invest in upfront, place-based strategic planning to improve decision-making, provide certainty and enable more efficient assessments.
- Provide a more transparent and certain supply pipeline and activate latent supply by addressing infrastructure requirements and resolving site constraints.
- Strengthen collaboration by the NSW Government with the Federal Government, local governments, and industry to improve the identification, funding, and delivery of infrastructure to support priority housing.
- Ensure new housing is appropriately located, well-designed, fit for purpose, and better provides for the diversity of housing needs, including strengthening planning and approval pathways for innovative typologies and tenures.
- Consider social and affordable housing as essential social and economic infrastructure.
- Facilitate the delivery of diverse housing that meets demonstrated need through targeted use of government land.
- Build the capacity of local government and local industries to plan and deliver housing in the regions.
- Enhance monitoring and evaluation of policy and housing outcomes.
The Taskforce has made five key recommendations for Government and 15 supporting targeted interventions that relate to the recommendations.
The five key recommendations are:
- Support measures that bring forward a supply of “development ready” land.
- Increase the availability of affordable and diverse housing across regional NSW.
- Provide more certainty about where, when and what types of homes will be built.
- Investigate planning levers to facilitate the delivery of housing that meets short term needs.
- Improve monitoring of housing and policy outcomes and demand indicators.
The NSW Government is closely considering the Recommendations Report to determine how best to improve housing supply and affordability in regional NSW and will release a response to it before the end of 2021.
The Taskforce is led by Newcastle-based independent planning expert Garry Fielding as Chair.
Mr Fielding is a qualified town planner with more than 40 years’ experience in State and local government and the private sector. He has worked at senior executive levels with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and also as head planner with Newcastle, Woollahra and Maitland Councils.
Mr Fielding is a Life Fellow and former NSW President of the Planning Institute of Australia and is the State-appointed Chair of the Western Regional Planning Panel.
The Taskforce also comprises senior experts from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and Department of Regional NSW.
For any further enquiries to the Regional Housing taskforce email [email protected]