Planning 'Flying squads' to the rescue as January dwelling approvals fall by 46.3%

The Property Council of Australia has commended the funding announcement by the New South Wales Government to introduce ‘flying squads’ to speed up housing approvals as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported a staggering 46.3 % fall in the total number of dwellings approved in January. 

NSW Executive Director Luke Achterstraat said the pandemic had hit housing approvals hard, with the total number of dwellings approved falling 27.9 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms in January.

“This reflects a range of factors including regulatory uncertainty due to constant changes in the planning system, the economic impacts of COVID, supply chain concerns and increase in cost of building materials,” Mr Achterstraat said. 

“Today’s announcement to introduce ‘flying squads’ will help ensure that councils can have access to skills to confidently assess and approve developments and rezonings in their area, increasing the availability of housing in the regions to seek to meet increasing demand.

“Often regional areas find it difficult to source the specialist and technical skills needed to undertake detailed and complex assessment work, significantly slowing approvals and impacting the delivery of housing.”

Mr Achterstraat said there has been a deluge of complex changes to the planning system over the last 12 months.

“The demands of strategic planning and development assessment can be overwhelming for small councils with limited resources, creating a backlog of work and delays,” he said.

“This support from the state government is essential and will help ensure that these councils can undertake the high-quality strategic planning needed to attract jobs, growth and investment to their areas.

“Similar initiatives should be implemented in greater Sydney where only one in 35 councils is on track to meet their housing targets. To shore up our economic recovery we need a greater supply of housing, not only to improve affordability for the next generation but also to generate jobs and productivity.”

Approvals for private sector houses also declined sharply, falling 17.5 per cent in January, following a 0.3 per cent decline in December. The series has now returned closer to historic levels, with the January result 0.8 per cent higher than the pre-pandemic level in January 2020.

Media:  Aidan Green | E: [email protected]