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property developersDEVELOPERS have attacked the NSW government in a report showing Sydney ranks last of all capital cities for the amount of land released for housing projects.

The report, by the Urban Development Institute of Australia, backs the opposition’s plan released this week to increase the supply of land on Sydney’s fringes and to scale back the construction of flats in existing suburbs.

The report says the lack of land being released is a key reason why the number of new dwellings in Sydney is falling short of government targets.

The NSW chief executive of the institute, Stephen Albin, said that while there was a shortage of housing supply across Australia, ”the real concern is Sydney, where we’re producing fewer new homes in new release areas than Adelaide, but with four times the population”.

Levies also made new blocks more expensive than in other capital cities. “Developers see NSW as a risk,” he said.

The report criticises the government attempt last year to cap at $20,000 the levies councils impose on developers to pay for infrastructure.

”[The] decision could be described as the manifestation of some of the worst aspects of public policy development – a complete lack of communication between the agencies writing the policy and those responsible for implementation, a failure to consult with industry and local government beforehand, significant delays which stalled private and public sector investment, and a humiliating backdown in the interests of political expediency.”

A spokesman for the Planning Minister, Tony Kelly, rejected the findings of the report and said the institute ranking ”fails to take into account the much smaller share that greenfield housing makes to Sydney’s housing mix, compared to other capital cities”.

The government’s aim of containing Sydney’s footprint was ”a responsible response to the social, environmental and substantial infrastructure costs associated with development on the city’s fringes”.

A conservation group attacked commitments by the Opposition Leader, Barry O’Farrell, to increase from 30 per cent to about 50 per cent the share of housing built on the city’s fringe.

Harry Triguboff, the chief executive of the Meriton development group, said building on the fringes would require investment in infrastructure.

”People want to live closer and closer to the centre of the city and near existing infrastructure, and this is what we will continue to concentrate on,” Mr Triguboff said.

”If Mr O’Farrell wants to encourage people to live further out – and outside Sydney – that will be fine too. The first thing that will need to be done is to provide the transport and infrastructure for those homes, and this will indirectly help infill development as well.”

The Australian Conservation Foundation condemned Mr O’Farrell’s plan to increase city fringe development and backed the government’s focus on developing land near existing transport links.

”People who live in these far-flung suburbs will be condemned to a worse quality of life because of inadequate public transport and the need to commute for hours to get to jobs and services,” a spokeswoman for the foundation said.

Story by Matthew Moore and Sean Nicholls www.domain.com.au

Tags: development, government, marketing, property, real estate

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