Toowoomba’s current supply of residential land can cater for the expected population growth in the short term while Council continues to plan for the future, a new report has found.

Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) Planning and Development Committee Chair Councillor Megan O’Hara Sullivan said the report showed there was no immediate need to create additional land supply for residential development.

“The Region is in a good position in the short term and we are already planning to meet the demands of future population growth,” Cr O’Hara Sullivan said.

There is currently 1,600 hectares of unconstrained vacant and under-developed land zoned for residential development within the Toowoomba Urban Extent (TUE) with the potential to accommodate over 12,000 houses and 3000 units.

“This land supply is spread across nine locations throughout the TUE, supplying multiple housing markets and supporting a range of housing types,” Cr O’Hara Sullivan said.

“Currently there are around 4,300 approved lots and 1,300 approved units that have not been released to the market. This represents approximately eight years' supply.

“Council’s ability to release new land for residential development is restricted to land within Toowoomba’s Urban Footprint under the South East Queensland Regional Plan (SEQRP).

“Most of the land within the Urban Footprint is already zoned for residential development. The areas that aren’t currently urban zoned do not offer a viable short-term development option.”

TRC Planning and Development Portfolio Leader Cr Bill Cahill said while there is currently enough land designated for residential development, the report recognised there were some issues experienced by developers in acquiring land. These issues included current land ownership patterns, land fragmentation, infrastructure requirements and market preference.

The report was compiled in response to concerns raised by local developers and industry professionals during discussions with Council in September 2020. It includes a review by PSA Consulting, which analysed the current supply of residential land within the TUE to determine whether additional land needed to be made available to meet market demand within the short term.

“Council is required by the State Government to maintain an adequate supply of zoned land in urban areas to cater for housing and employment activity that supports anticipated population growth in the TUE,” Cr Cahill said.

 “We must also ensure the Priority Infrastructure Area (PIA) provides sufficient land capable of being serviced for a minimum of 10 years.

“The current supply exceeds the established planning benchmarks and will meet demand generated by population growth for the immediate future.”

Cr Cahill said the report includes a housing needs analysis undertaken by the National Property Research Company, providing an in-depth look at the characteristics of the local housing market with regard to demographics and economic trends.

“Council is already planning for future growth with the development of the Toowoomba Region Growth Management Plan to identify preferred areas for residential development over the next 30 years. The Plan is a foundation block for a new planning scheme and is expected to be completed by the end of 2021,” Cr Cahill said.

The Plan will provide clear direction on where future land supply should be created and inform an upcoming review of the SEQRP.

“When completed, the Plan will enable Council to advise the State government on changes that may be required to the Urban Footprint to support residential development within the TUE as part of the upcoming review of the SEQRP,” Cr Cahill said.

The new planning scheme is expected to be completed by 2024.