Monday 30 June 2014

Melbourne gets it

Alan Davies reports on housing in Melbourne:
[Planning Minister] Mr Guy included some astonishing ABS statistics on new dwelling approvals in his media release. They show that more dwellings – both detached and medium/high density – were approved in metropolitan Melbourne between January 2010 and April 2014 than in metropolitan Sydney (see exhibit). According to Mr Guy:
Since 2010, 54 per cent more homes have gained building approval in metropolitan Melbourne than in Sydney, and 11 per cent more than the entire state of New South Wales.
That’s an extraordinary set of numbers. Their significance is underlined in Mr Guy’s next sentence: by building more homes, he says, Melburnians “are ensuring we won’t have the drastic and harmful housing shortage Sydney is experiencing”.
He provides this picture of dwelling consents, January 2010 through April 2014:

Dwellings approved, metro Sydney and metro Melbourne, Jan 2010-April 2014 (source data: Minister for Planning, Vic, media release)
Melbourne has a bit less that New Zealand's population. They averaged about 3600 consents per month from January 2010 through April 2014.

Housing Minister Nick Smith issued a press release in April celebrating a massive rise in New Zealand dwelling consents:
“There were 1999 consents issued in March 2014 – the highest for the month of March since 2007, and an increase of 36 per cent from March 2013. Today’s figures also show the highest number of consents issued in the first quarter of any year since 2007 and an increase of 25 per cent on the first quarter of 2013. They reflect a steady trend of growth which has seen the number of consents continuously rising since March 2011,” Dr Smith says.
It's good that things are moving in the right direction, but Auckland and Christchurch have a ways to go yet.

Back to Davies:
Some of the complaints published regularly in The Age about sprawl and the rate and scale of development in the centre of Melbourne are important and warrant the close attention of planners. But as the stark contrast between housing supply/prices in Melbourne and Sydney shows, everything comes at a cost. 
At least in comparison to Sydney, Melbourne is getting some aspects of housing supply mostly right, especially in the city centre and the fringe. Progressives who’re concerned about issues like inequality and social justice need to understand everything involves trade-offs; they need to factor in the big picture as well as traditional planning concerns.
The new metropolitan strategy for Melbourne, Plan Melbourne, actively limits the scope for construction of medium density housing in the established suburbs (see Does this strategic plan really spurn sprawl?). Mr Guy therefore needs to make sure that his proposed alternative sources of supply, especially urban renewal areas, have the muscle to keep up with demand.
I sense a note of scepticism in the last paragraph.

Update: the latest numbers, for May 2014, have 2,125 new dwelling approvals in New Zealand.

1 comment:

  1. Not to mention that scooters can be carried on buses by students living in outlying areas