Unfragmenting Sydney For Development

14/05/2012 3:56 am

The top Development lobby group  Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) said  last week that fragmented land ownership was making development unviable across much of  Sydney.

UDIA believes that government needs to consider solutions for amalgamation of these holdings.

“The day is going to come when we’re going to have to confront the issue of fragmented lands,” UDIA NSW chief executive Steve Albin said. “But it needs to be done in a co-ordinated way and we really need to sit down and think very carefully about how we’re going to do it because it involves people’s property rights.”

Mr Albin made the comments after revealing the findings of a three-year investigation into the most suitable lands for new housing in outer Sydney.

The report by development group Cardno, called Building Blocks, found existing growth areas were hampered by fragmented ownership or lack of infrastructure.

The aim of the report was to identify why housing construction had fallen to record lows in NSW, despite state government assurances that there was no shortage of re-zoned land. The findings of the report were unexpected. The report found land outside the growth areas would be more suitable in places where land holdings were over 10 hectares, close to major transport routes, electricity networks and an existing urban fringe area.

“No one has really considered the economic feasibility of development in this state,” he said. “The key drivers of that are cost of land and cost of infrastructure.”

In February, the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure called for public comment on how to resolve the issue of paper subdivisions. The paper calls for input on how to deal with the problem of fragmented ownership, in particular how people should be compensated if their land is compulsorily acquired and how to calculate that compensation.

The Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority set up by the former NSW Labor government has legislative powers to acquire land for development. NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard said he had heard the concerns from developers “when there might be one or two blocks sitting in the way of a major development”.  “We’re certainly listening to all sides when it comes to getting more housing in NSW but we’re not rushing any unfettered rights of resumption of people’s homes, that would be an anathema to the Liberal and National parties,” Mr Hazzard said.

Fragmentation of land is a also a major significant barrier to development on urban infill projects throughout NSW, particularly in Sydney. The issue is exacerbated when you consider strata title.  These issues are not going away and they are going to be some biggest issues facing  the development industry over the next 20 years. Government and the industry will to be innovative with their solutions if we are to have any chance of providing more affordability in the market.