Expert report shows SEQ housing crisis can be solved without more urban sprawl

qcc-report.jpgExpert analysis released today shows consolidation and well-designed infill can deliver all the housing that South East Queensland needs, with fewer costs and better social outcomes than urban sprawl. Commissioned by Queensland Conservation Council, the independent report from SGS Economics and Planning (PDF 3mb) provides a welcome injection of impartial and expert analysis to the housing debate.

The State Government is currently updating the SEQ Regional Plan in response to the housing crisis and growing population, with SEQ expected to grow to over 6 million people over the coming two decades.

Patrick Fensham, Principal and Partner, SGS Economics and Planning said:

"What we have done is draw on our extensive experience in metropolitan and local strategic planning in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and SEQ to identify 'best practice' approaches for SEQ. SGS understands both the benefits associated with good planning and the costs of not getting things right. We bring these perspectives to our best practice advice.

"Our Best Practice Report (PDF 3mb) emphasises that there are community wide and household benefits from better planning for a more compact city.

"The research and evidence tells us that if SEQ built more dwelling in already developed areas than is currently the case, the community as a whole stands to benefit and save money - because existing infrastructure and services are better utilised and less new infrastructure is required.

"Households also stand to benefit from a reduction in the rate of outward urban growth - with lower costs of living, more households closer to more of the jobs in SEQ, more opportunities for women to contribute to the economy because they will be closer to jobs which are matched to their qualifications, and lower transport and travel costs which drain household budgets.

"The environment benefits too - with less destruction of habitat and less risk and exposure to flooding and climate hazards.

Queensland Conservation Council Director Dave Copeman said:

"The report shows we can't keep building new suburbs around the urban fringes, when in reality these greenfield developments are slower to develop, more expensive and riskier, including to the environment.

"Queensland can do planning better, and end our current reliance on urban sprawl.

"This report from nation-leading planning experts SGS provides a clear summary of current science, that gentle density is healthier, better for the economy and better for communities.

"It shows it ends up cheaper, when you factor the uncosted infrastructure costs of urban sprawl that taxpayers end up paying.

"No one wants to be forced to commute for hours stuck in the traffic jams, leaving satellite suburbs with no community, schools or hospitals.

"The only winners are the developers who are using the housing crisis as an excuse to argue we must push out our urban footprint.

"We are calling on the State Government to really lock in good design principles and smart density, and protect remnant habitat in the SEQ Regional Plan review.

"We are at a critical junction point in SEQ. People are moving here because of its natural values, its liveability and biodiversity. Yet poor planning and development is killing the thing we love most."

Nicole Bennetts, Queensland State Manager, Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) said:

"PIA welcomes the release of this report from the Conservation Council today. It makes a positive contribution to the ongoing dialogue about regional planning in SEQ.

"This report is released as the community is being asked to have their say on the draft SEQ Regional Plan. This report and the draft SEQ Regional Plan both highlight the important role of good planning.

"We’ve got an extra 2.2 million people coming to live in South East Queensland over the next 20 years. To prepare, good planning is essential so that we can have the housing we need as well as the jobs, infrastructure, green space and services to maintain the great lifestyle we love and protect our natural environment.

"We agree that a greater focus on growth within existing neighbourhoods is key to ensuring our region gets better, not bigger. Planning has a role to play, however planning interventions alone cannot solve the housing crisis. Non-planning factors, such as labour and material shortages, need to be addressed as a priority in order to boost housing supply in the short to medium term.

"The Planning Institute is the national peak body for town planners, and we have members in all levels of government, private sector and non-for-profit sectors. PIA is advocating to ensure that future growth of this region continues to be well planned and delivers great benefits for communities."