A State Planning takeover under the guise of ‘affordable’ housing

Two giant shadows have been cast over Noosa’s right to plan its own destiny.

Our council has been hit with a double whammy; first the unrealistic housing targets imposed by the State Government through last year’s SEQ Update and now the state’s overreach through its housing availability and affordability legislation.

The state government’s simplistic approach to a complicated issue is to sheet home the blame for the housing crisis on councils’ planning processes, arguing it is the planning process that is the obstacle to the construction of housing – including affordable housing.

It is worth noting that proposed amendments to Noosa Plan 2020 (Amendment No.2) have been with the state government for over 12 months. Council’s comprehensive housing strategy and short-term accommodation monitoring report were endorsed in 2022 and have only now received approval from the state government to allow for community feedback.

Data presented at council’s general committee meeting on 13 May would also give the lie to the assertion that council planning processes are an obstacle. For the first time, council has included additional supporting indicators to its quarterly operational planning report relating to development approvals and planning applications. In almost all cases development applications have been decided within statutory timeframes.

Our Noosa Planning Scheme under threat

It is probably no exaggeration to say that the state government’s housing availability and affordability legislation is the greatest threat to Noosa’s hard fought planning environment.

A point well made by Noosa’s independent state MP, Sandy Bolton, Noosa mayor Frank Wilkie and a number of community groups and individuals.

Deputy mayor, Brian Stockwell, put it more bluntly stating that not since the Jo Bjelke-Petersen era have we had a state government that has given the minister such sweeping powers over development.

Overriding the council’s planning scheme sets a dangerous precedent and completely undermines our local planning scheme; a planning process that enjoys strong community support that has been so rigorously defended by successive councils. And one that has served the community well and protected it from the type of overdevelopment that has characterised areas such as the Gold Coast and parts of the Sunshine Coast.

Federal and State housing failures – the real problem.

The state government’s overreach undermines Noosa’s hard fought planning scheme and will do little to address the housing crisis.

Noosa’s concerns (and those of many other councils and community organisations) will be labelled as “nimbyism”, an accusation that overlooks the fact much of the problem lies with successive federal and state governments who, over many decades, have vacated the public housing market in favour of the private sector to fix the problem. We know where that has got us.

The core of the problem is not council planning processes but rather the steady abandonment of public and social housing over decades of inaction by successive federal and state governments.

From the 1940s to the 1980s government housing agencies built large volumes of new public housing. In recent decades federal and state governments have abrogated their responsibilities in this regard to the extent there has been a one-third decline in social housing as a share of the housing stock, from a peak of 5.6 per cent in 1991 to 3.8 per cent in 2021.

The housing shortage has less to do with red tape, administrative delays, and outdated planning instruments and more to do with developers land banking, supply bottlenecks (particularly as a fall out from the COVID years) and the current economic circumstances as the reason for the shortage in the housing supply.

Higher costs of materials and finance are making it harder for developers to build large projects profitability, while increases in interest rates have limited buyers purchasing powers.

It seems that Noosa and other councils have been made the scapegoats for the failures of successive federal and state governments. 

Noosa residents should not have to pay the price for the poor housing policies of successive federal and state governments.

Who will fight in Noosa’s corner?

We know what the Labor government wants to do, so where does the LNP stand on this? Well, the Hansard record of the “debate” throws little light on their intentions. And at the end of the day the motion to approve the housing affordability and availability legislation was agreed to.

Pressed on whether an incoming LNP government would repeal or amend the legislation, the shadow minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, Jarrod Bleijie, is yet to respond. Don’t hold your breath.

Our Council and our Independent MP have a big battle ahead of them to convince both big parties that over-development and state over-reach, however it is sold to voters, is a threat to Noosa’s entire social, environmental and economic model.   


This Post Has One Comment

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    Well said, but while the nationwide housing problems can be sheeted home to Federal and State governments, our local representatives are not without blame. Noosa Council has, for over a decade, had its head in the sand in relation to the impact of STA on housing availability and affordability. The 2022 Monitoring Report mostly reiterates what was made clear in numerous earlier reports. Noosa has enough housing. The problem is so much of it (and an increasing amount over the last decade) is being used for visitor accommodation. The 2017 HNA report concluded that the growth in tourism/use of dwellings for STA was unsustainable. How long does it take for the penny to drop? The rubber stamping of registrations, existing rights and SPS applications post the 2020 Plan has added to the problem.

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