HIA’s Gold Coast and Northern Rivers executive director Colin Buttenshaw.
HIA’s Gold Coast and Northern Rivers executive director Colin Buttenshaw.

Property more costly than Coasts

IT’S OFFICIAL: Land in the Northern Rivers is the most expensive in Australia outside Sydney and Melbourne.

Median residential land value in Richmond Tweed in the quarter to September 2009 was $255,500 – outpricing Brisbane, on $220,000, as well as Adelaide, Launceston and Perth.

The shock figures are given in the latest Residential Land Report from the Housing Industry Association and RP Data, which puts the Sunshine Coast at number two on $241,500 and the Gold Coast coming a close third on $240,275.

HIA’s Gold Coast and Northern Rivers executive director Colin Buttenshaw said there was ‘no good reason for land to be more costly here than everywhere except the two major cities’.

“We have concerns that land prices in the Northern Rivers and Gold Coast region are outstripping building prices and will impact on new home sales. State and local governments need to be doing more to help developers release moreaffordable land,” Mr Buttenshaw said

The astronomical figures were caused by several factors, mostly related to supply and demand, he said.

Many councils had approved development tracts in the region, which stretches from the Tweed to Casino, but the land hadn’t been built on because development costs were prohibitive.

“State and local government development charges, further contributions required to connect a project to council infrastructure, and the holding costs during the five years or so before a project comes on line mean it is just too expensive for many developers,” MrButtenshaw said.

He called on local councils to do more to take some of the red tape out of development.

“The new State planning scheme – which capped contributions on residential blocks at $20,000 – has moved some way in the right direction to freeing things up, but if anything fallsoutside the ordinary it has to go back into a drawn out planning process,” he said.

But Richmond Valley Council general manager Brian Wilkinson said the HIA figures did not give a true picture of the region’s land values.

“The higher prices of property in the coastal areas of Tweed, Byron and Ballina boost the average costs,” he said.

“Late last year we released an area of land near Casino in the $100,000 range. So there is still plenty of very affordable land in the Richmond Valley.”

Mr Buttenshaw said that while Richmond Tweed council charges were not the highest in the country, they were high for a country area, especially compared with some other regions of NSW, South Australia and Western Australia.

“Up here we tend to have a Rolls-Royce type of planning system,” he said.

“Councils look at all the things that may eventuate down the track, such as libraries and parks, and developers have to make a contribution to them. They need to look at it from a different perspective, to take a longer-term view and hold off on those charges.”

Ballina Shire’s general manager, Paul Hickey, said while land prices had increased significantly in the past decade, council costs had stayed much the same.

Councils and the development industry were both facing hikes in resources expenses, he said.

“Trying to balance the supply and demand for land is one of the major concerns of the council, and the high demand around Ballina is the result of more and more people wanting to live by the coast.

“Ballina Shire is looking at anaffordable housing strategy toaddress this.”

Many councils also faced a large anti-development lobby, Mr Buttenshaw said, especially on the coast – people who didn’t want their pristine environments affected by development.

“But for us all to survive, we must have it,” he said.

10 LEAST EXPENSIVE

Murray Lands (SA) 69,500; Mallee (VIC) 70,000; Mersey-Lyell (TAS) 78,000; South East (SA) 85,000; Northern (SA) 85,000;

Central Highlands (VIC) 86,500;

East Gippsland (VIC) 87,750; Loddon (VIC) 88,975; Goulburn (VIC) 90,000; Southern (TAS) 90,000



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