Back to News page

Save Our Sydney Suburbs (NSW) Inc.
News Release December 2004

Planning driven by Profits

Hi SOS Members

We wish you a Merry Christmas Season and the very best for a happy and peaceful New Year. We thank you for your support this year and look forward to continuing our efforts to change matters so that the future development of our State is for the benefit of everyone instead of just for politicians, developers and bureaucrats at the expense of the wider community.

A notable hit to start off the holidays - we have had the following letter published in the Sunday Telegraph today. The Sunday Telegraph is the most widely read paper in NSW (probably interstate as well), especially at this time of year with people on holidays. The publicity for SOS should be huge. Thanks to SOS members Anthony Meaney for his innovative strategic suggestions and to Gordon Hocking for some excellent wording ideas that I incorporated. A collaberative effort always achieves the best result.

Sunday Telegraph 26 December 2004

Planning driven by profits

It is not only at a council level and not only recently that we have seen allegations that developer donations instead of community benefit drive NSW planning. Back in 1970 the then Premier was reported to have accepted $15,000 in a brown paper bag.

Sydney’s planning madness is driven by huge profits from high density developments, coupled with developer donations to political parties and entrenched collaboration with developers by State Planning Department DIPNR. No matter that densification destroys our Australian way of life, increases traffic congestion, generates pollution and drives our infrastructure to breaking point. Numbered among Australia’s richest 200 billionaires are forty developers, the largest single group.

The current lamentable long-standing state of affairs will continue until a better example is set from the top.

president, Save Our Suburbs

It would be good if other members follow this up - you have the rest of the week before next Sunday to think up something. Email your letter to:

The rest of the world is noticing

Here is part of an article written by Wendell Cox of the Wendell Cox Consultancy : Demographia

................. As in the case of Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, San Diego, Denver, Boston and other urban areas that have implemented "land rationing" policies,Sydney has experienced an unprecedented loss in housing affordability. Indeed, Sydney may have become the most unaffordable housing market in the English speaking New World (USA, Canada, Australia & New Zealand). In 2001, housing affordability in Sydney had become worse than Portland as bad as the North American "champions" San Francisco and Vancouver.

But things have only gotten worse, and rapidly. By now, the median house price has increased nearly 40 percent from 2001. Needless to say, the incomes of Sydney residents have by no means kept up with that "smart growth" driven explosion.

Government leaders, civic leaders and citizens groups all agree that something must be done to solve the housing affordability problem. But everything seems to be on the agenda but what would work. For example, there are myopic proposals to create subsidies to improve affordability. Australia is a rich country, but no country is rich enough to pay the $200,000 to $300,000 per new buyer that would be necessary to remove the smart growth tax that urban consolidation policies have added to Sydney housing. As my friend Christchurch, New Zealand developer Hugh Pavletich put it, Sydney has strangled its housing market.

But there are no serious proposals to implement the only strategy that can return housing opportunity for the younger and less affluent households not fortunate enough to have climbed on the economic ladder before the planners pulled it up. The answer, unpopular as it might be to those who would take away futures to preserve a few square kilometres of overly abundant land, is to repeal the ill-conceived urban consolidation policies that have caused the problem. As basic economics teaches, rationing leads to higher prices. Regrettably this is beyond the comprehension of too many land use planners, whether releasing too little bread in the mercifully long-gone Soviet Union or releasing too little land to sustain economic opportunity in Sydney.............................

Without allowing the market to determine where development should occur, housing affordability for young and less affluent residents of Sydney is a thing of the past. And, with urban development occupying so little of coastal New South Wales, the argument that there is not enough land will make sense only to those who haven't ventured outside the urban area. There is plenty of land. Plenty of land has already been protected from development, yet there is still more than enough available land for any conceivable expansion of urbanization.

The government advocates prefer to think that Sydney's growth is the root of the housing affordability problem. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Atlanta are the fastest growing large urban areas in the English speaking New World. Each is already larger than Sydney and growing faster. They also have the most affordable housing markets. This is because Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Atlanta have been careful not to apply Soviet bread line policies to their housing markets. While median house prices are certainly more than six times median household income in Sydney, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Atlanta have multiples less than three. While the income Sydney household faces median house prices that would take more than 300 weeks of income to purchase, their counterparts in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Atlanta would need less than 150 weeks.

The message is simple. Strangle housing markets and you risk strangling the future...........

Tony Recsei
Save Our Suburbs (SOS)

Back to News page