A new survey has suggested that local governments could be sitting on billions of dollars worth of property and land that could be redeveloped to ease Australia’s housing problem.
A report commissioned by the Property Council of Australia (PCA), which focused on a number of Victorian suburbs, identified 101 properties worth more than $550 million that could be developed for alternative use. The survey identified car parks, council depots in residential areas and under-utilised buildings as ripe for transformation.
The individual sites identified by the PCA were valued between $750,000 and $25.2 million, and totalled 131 hectares across 10 municipalities.
Among the council areas surveyed were Melbourne, Darebin, Manningham, Port Phillip, Greater Dandenong, Booroondara and Wyndham. Inner-city and middle-ring suburbs are under pressure from rising city populations and baby boomers wishing to downsize.
The report, titled Hidden in plain site: opportunities for local government asset recycling and redevelopment,
found that most of the properties in question were being used as off-street car parks, community facilities, or for transport and storage.
Responding to the study, Booroondara mayor Jim Parke said that the identified sites provide valuable community services.
“Sadly, the report fails to recognise that governments acquire land with a view to meeting the needs of generations to come,” said Parke.
The PCA analysis did not include other potential redevelopment sites such as parks, gardens, sports grounds and childcare centres, and did not look into stumbling blocks to residential development such as contamination.
“It's up to councils to decide what to do with their assets but they need money to cope with growing populations,” said PCA deputy executive director Asher Judah.
Victorian Local Governance Association president Sebastian Klein regarded the PCA report as the beginning of an essential dialogue, saying, “If this report precipitates a genuine discussion around how government, and that's all levels of government, increase affordable housing in the community then that's a good thing.”