The below statement is attributable to Howard Maclean, Convenor, Greater Canberra.
An ACT Legislative Assembly inquiry this week has revealed that the ACT Government has done no assessment of the number of new homes that will be built under the Government’s changes to the RZ1 Suburban Zone. The Government’s minor changes to RZ1 will allow construction and unit titling of secondary dwellings up to 120m² in size on RZ1 blocks larger than 800m².
Both the Planning Minister, Mick Gentleman, and the Chief Planner, Ben Ponton, told the Planning, Transport and City Services Committee that development patterns are too uncertain to measure, as they are up to individual landowners.
This is being proffered as an excuse for not attempting to quantify the impact of this reform, despite there being numerous case studies to draw on: the introduction of the ‘Mr Fluffy’ duplex rules, the Demonstration Housing Project, the ‘granny flat’ reforms in New South Wales, and similar reforms overseas. Planning agencies both interstate and overseas have developed methodologies for creating realistic estimates of new housing supply from these reforms.
While the Government says that there are 40,000 RZ1 blocks where new housing could be built under their reforms, many industry participants are predicting that uptake will be poor, and won’t achieve the goal of building homes in areas where people want to live.
That is why we have consistently advocated for more far-reaching reforms, including upzoning all existing RZ1 areas to the RZ2 zone, which would allow more sustainable and abundant housing by permitting more than two dwellings on our largest suburban blocks, and allowing for block consolidation. The Missing Middle Canberra coalition has presented a sensible plan for zoning reforms that will deliver the housing we need. The Government must model the Missing Middle Canberra plan and other policy alternatives before committing to a meagre planning change that won’t ensure Canberrans have housing choice.
Projections and forecasts are always subject to uncertainty, but the fact remains that you cannot manage what you don’t measure. The ACT Government has an entire agency dedicated to greenfield land development - surely it can take the time to analyse the impact of banning medium-density homes on the vast majority of ACT residential land. For a Government committed to strong climate action, and creating housing opportunities for all Canberrans, doing anything less is pure negligence.
We will be holding a panel event, “Why Canberra needs the Missing Middle”, with our Missing Middle Canberra partners on Wednesday 29 November to discuss how stronger planning reforms can deliver a more liveable, sustainable and affordable city for all Canberrans.
About Greater Canberra
Greater Canberra is a community advocacy group committed to affordable and high-quality housing in Canberra. We believe in a future where housing is abundant, and where everyone can enjoy a more sustainable and liveable city. For more information, see https://greatercanberra.org.