This coming month promises to be a significant one. The Australian population will reach the 25 million milestone, and our growth is happening at an unprecedented rate. The last million people were added in less than 2.5 years – almost half the time it took to add the previous million.
So what does all this mean for the property industry?
Dr Laurence Troy, from the UNSW City Futures Research Centre, claims Australia needs a population growth policy. “The current approach is just to let it happen and that generally means it happens in Sydney and Melbourne,” he says. “It creates a lot of pressures and a lot of that is borne out via the urban development process because we need to find new houses.
The Planning Institute Australia (PIA) has welcomed a Parliamentary Select Committee’s call for greater investment in Australia’s rural and regional towns, citing their report, “Regions at the Ready: Investing in Australia’s Future”, as further clear evidence of the need for an integrated national settlement strategy.
An increasing population means the need for more accommodation, and home hunters in the current market can take some small comfort from the recent housing affordability figures. The Housing Industry Association (HIA) says affordability will continue to improve in Sydney and Melbourne as a cyclical dip causes prices to fall further and earnings to keep growing.
However, the HIA notes the situation is only likely to provide a modest opportunity for buyers, with the size of the fall in house prices only slight relative to the preceding increase.
Just as urban planning needs to take into account the housing needs of our burgeoning population, it also must factor in the impact that automated vehicles will have on urban design and land use.
This challenge has exercised the minds of our Chairman, Brian Haratsis, and Gary White, who left MacroPlan to take up the role of Chief Planner with the NSW Department of Planning & Environment. Brian and Gary spoke last week at a hypothetical webinar run by the driverless vehicle initiative, ADVI. As we know, automated vehicles will emerge on Australian roads as early as 2020 and they will stimulate different travel patterns and new city geography.
Vehicle transport was also the focus at an industry lunch MacroPlan held in Brisbane in partnership with Vaughan Construction. Our Queensland General Manager, Mark Courtney, spoke on ‘the Last Mile’, that least efficient and most costly segment of the supply chain where goods are moved from a transport hub to their final destination.
From road vehicles to trains and planes: The Victorian Labor government has promised to match a $5b pledge from the Commonwealth in a bid to kickstart construction on Melbourne’s airport rail link by the close of 2022.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says he wants the route to go through the suburb of Sunshine, creating a ‘super hub’ which would connect regional and metro train lines. In this way, Andrews claims that the line will be more than just an airport rail link; it will unlock capacity for rapid services to Geelong and Ballarat.
I can’t sign off without mentioning another major event of the past month, the one that took place in Russia. As we all know, France won the World Cup and MacroPlan staffers had their own skin in the game with our in-house sweepstake. S Tonks and C Jones, who were lucky enough to draw France, walk away with $100 Westfield vouchers. Prizes also go to the holders of tickets for second and third place getters, Croatia and Belgium, with a wooden spoon prize for Panama ticket-holders and one for the very keen M Daniels, who was first to sign up.
I’d like to think that MacroPlan is also a winning team, and we’re currently recruiting for two positions in our Melbourne office, a striker and a goalie . . . only kidding . . . a town planner and economist. If you know anyone who might be interested, please encourage them to be in touch.