Land shortage crisis becomes ‘elephant in the room’ as affordability hits local economy

Terry Ryder

Rising house prices, smaller lot sizes, zero affordable housing, and under employment will all impact on the Sunshine Coast’s economy due to a lack of land availability across the region according to the latest report from leading property researcher Terry Ryder.

‘Sunshine Coast Land Crisis’ (May 2021) the latest report from leading property researcher Terry Ryder

In his latest report ‘Sunshine Coast Land Crisis’ (May 2021) Mr Ryder says new housing supply has become a critical factor across  the region with the lack of developable land the ‘elephant in the room’.

“It is important to understand that the Sunshine Coast’s population will increase and all of the data available indicates that the region has inadequate land to accommodate the level of population growth forecast by both the State Government and the Sunshine Coast Council.  

“It starts with the rental market which is currently below 0.6%, they are generally the first point of entry for those wishing to live and, or work on the Sunshine Coast and should be heard as the first and loudest warning bell in maintaining a sustainable economy.

“Sunshine Coast Council maintains that its planning procedures provide for adequate land supply, primarily through infill development (65% of growth to be accommodated in small to medium sized infill projects, rather than through large-scale greenfield development).

“However industry organisations including the Urban Development Institute of Australia and the Property Council of Australia strongly disagree with this sentiment.  What is apparent from analysing all the data is that there is very little land available for new residential developments and Council’s view on having adequate land supply looks to be clearly in question.

“The vast majority of the greenfield development is occurring at Aura and Harmony and Beerwah East.  However, not all renters or buyers want to live in these southern estates.  More needs to be done to allow locals as well those from outside the Sunshine Coast to have more choice where they wish to live so they can be closer to family, amenity and work.

Mr Ryder’s Sunshine Coast Land Crisis report (May 2021) said Increased land prices and reduced lot sizes impacts on affordable housing as young people and low-income earners struggle to enter the market.

“It also impacts on the local job market where staff simply cannot afford to buy or rent because they have been priced out of the market.

“The region is already feeling the pinch with both the building and hospitality industries struggling to  find staff and there will be long term impacts on major regional projects such as the new Maroochydore CBD, the Sunshine Coast airport expansion and the major health precincts if employees can’t find suitable accommodation for their staff,” Mr Ryder added.

Property Council Sunshine Coast Committee Chair Brad Williams said while the land availability and affordability issue is spread across the region, it was more pertinent north of the Maroochydore River where there is a real lack of housing product and diversity on offer.

“Council’s decision not to approve the DA for the Twin Waters West residential community has exacerbated the issue, so it’s really only the Bli Bli community who are doing the bulk of the heavy lifting in this space to get product to market. 

“We certainly need to fast track some developable land north of the river or we will continue to feel the impact of our growing pains well into the foreseeable future,” Mr Williams said.