The release of $1.5 billion of land for residential development in South Hedland is a welcome step but more needs to be done to address housing shortages, according to John Shipp, Director of the ANDEV/IPA North Australia Project.
“Port Hedland already has an estimated 1,402 dwelling supply shortfall, so it is essential that the new homes are put out to market as soon as possible,” Mr Shipp said.
Mr Shipp expressed concern that the nature of the new dwellings would reflect the preferences of urban planners rather than potential residents.
“Whenever planners have too much influence over the development process, the houses tend to be expensive palaces that are overpriced and don’t reflect the needs of consumers,” Mr Shipp said.
In early June 2012, Mr Shipp warned that a lack of affordable housing in mining towns was killing the prospects of growth in Northern Australia, including the Pilbara.
At the time he said: “In a town where housing is in such hot demand, and local renters are being forced out of town, far more crown land should be released for development.”
“The ANDEV/IPA North Australia Project has been on the front foot on this issue, bringing national attention to the urgent need for affordable housing in the Pilbara,” Mr Shipp said today.
Mr Shipp said it was gratifying to see LandCorp beginning to respond to the housing affordability crisis in the Pilbara.
“In 2011 LandCorp only released approximately 40 allotments of crown land in Port Hedland.
Mr Shipp said that releasing more land would encourage more permanent settlement and less fly-in, fly-out labour.
“FIFO will only ever make sense when it’s cheaper to fly to Port Hedland or Karratha than to live there,” Mr Shipp said.