Development land: the broad landscape

Rich, fertile and attractive land is a desirable commodity in Australia and New Zealand. 

Regulators and developers in both countries have seen the light with the formation of the Australia-New Zealand Partnership for Development Co-operation in the Pacific. 

The partnership seeks to address economic, social and sustainable measures to address regional housing and build a secure, equitable and prosperous Pacific region. 

The main objectives

As outlined in the partnership agreement, Australia and New Zealand have complementary approaches to development in the Pacific, with a focus on results, mutual accountability and the alignment of development resources with individual country priorities.

Australia and New Zealand will use this partnership to deepen its development cooperation, enabling the organisation to assist Pacific island countries to achieve broad-based economic growth and create and maintain sustainable livelihoods.

In short supply?

Reported land shortages pose the greatest challenge in maintaining these development goals.

As is widely known and expressed in a federal government report, there is a broad consensus that more new dwellings need to be built to improve housing affordability in Australia. There is some conjecture, however, as to whether limited or artificially constrained land supply has been the main driver of higher house prices, and whether the main solution is to release more land.

Australia’s capitals — with the exception of Canberra — all have the geographic constraint of coastline; many are also restricted by mountains, river systems and national parks. 

There are significant greenfield options on the fringes of the capitals, which state and local governments could access. Is the solution to housing affordability simply to build more houses in these areas? Building smartly and sustainably appears to hold the key.

From an industrial perspective, recent reports in New Zealand highlight a need for suitably zoned land. 

In Auckland, the country’s largest city, this shortage has been exacerbated by the reluctance of the Auckland Regional Council to extend the Metropolitan Urban Limit (MUL) to open up new greenfield areas for business and industrial development, particularly in the South Auckland. 

An imbalance between supply and demand is also pushing land prices beyond the means of many developers. 

The solution

Regional growth corridors are experiencing record housing sales, despite dwindling land stock — calling for a long-term liveability, affordability, lifestyle and supply outlook.

Experts suggest that these land and housing issues can only be solved by focusing on building smaller homes; prioritising affordability rather than luxury developments; addressing social housing and rent control; and limiting land speculation.

Crucially, others suggest the need for grassroots involvement. This includes governments buying land and real estate to ensure that adequate regulation and development processes are maintained, and higher taxes should be imposed on returns from real estate investment to level the playing field.  

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