Housing availability on Coast is “slim pickings”

UDIA CEO Steve Mann, Shadow Minister for the Central Coast, David Harris, UDIA Central Coast Chapter Chair, Caine King, and Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch, at the luncheon

Housing supply and demand is out of balance on the Central Coast, which is pushing house prices up, says Chair of the Central Coast Chapter of Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA), Caine King.

He was speaking at a UDIA luncheon on the Coast on November 17.

“Housing at the moment is slim pickings, there’s not much in stock, so houses are selling above where they should be by about $100,000 to $200,000 in some cases,” he said.

“The migration from Sydney is so strong, which we’ve encouraged for a very long time, and we shouldn’t be discouraging that, but the housing stock isn’t there.

“So, what we have now is that the affordable Central Coast that has long been promoted, is not so affordable.

“On top of that there’s also the rental market which is at an all-time low.”

King said housing completions were high, sales were strong but building new housing was being delayed and deferred through the approval process, thereby tying up the marketplace and reducing prospects for jobs through growth.

It is estimated the Coast needs 2300 new homes a year to keep up with demand.

King said the Southern Growth Corridor from Erina to Somersby was crucial and there should be a focus on “brownfield” (pull down and develop) sites to provide more diversity in housing to cater for the influx of people, such as what was happening in Gosford.

“We need units, townhouses and duplexes and these could be accommodated in a well-planned and co-ordinated urban design for town centre hubs such as Erina, East Gosford and West Gosford, fanning out to residential areas of single dwellings,” he said.

“I think that is what’s missing from the growth corridor and we should really be focussing on that corridor.”

He said housing needed to be developed more quickly than it was now and while there had been a steep rise in housing completions, there was a massive drop in development application approvals.

“Housing projects are being delayed, deferred and taking too long for local government to make a decision,” he said.

“Biodiversity and environmental regulations are some of the most significant issues that constrains development on the Coast and it’s just red tape on red tape on red tape and we need to simplify these.

“Industry and government at all levels need to work together to find the balance to ensure we are protecting the environment but also providing housing and new jobs that we need on the Coast.”

King said delays by Central Coast Council to adopt a Local Environment Plan (LEP) was not inspiring confidence in developers looking to invest in the region.

The LEP refers to the two Local Environment Plans, one from the former Gosford Council and one from the former Wyong Council, that are still to be consolidated into one Central Coast LEP.

“The Central Coast has been planned to death yet it’s the LEP that is instrumental for development proposals to give clarity of direction and consistency,” King said.

“It’s baffling why it is taking so long and unfortunately it’s been roadblocked in the Council room three times.

“We need the LEP, I can’t stress that enough and we’ll be asking the Administrator (to make it) a priority.”

Sue Murray