Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) is investigating additional measures to assist the release of extra greenfield housing sites, as well as incentives to generate greater numbers of rental housing in the existing urban areas, to the property market.

TRC Planning and Development Committee chair Cr Megan O’Hara Sullivan said a report, (including financial and community impacts), detailing likely assistance measures would be prepared for consideration at the June committee meeting.

“Council is investigating measures to bring product through the residential development pipeline to market, such as temporary financial incentives (fees and infrastructure charges reductions), temporary planning instruments to streamline the development process and engineering solutions that could unlock more sites for medium density development in appropriate locations,” Cr O’Hara Sullivan said.

“We acknowledge that housing supply and housing rental stress are key issues being experienced in our community, that have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and other economic changes.

“These challenges are not unique to the Toowoomba Region and are reflective of similar challenges being faced by communities across Australia.

“Despite a healthy land supply pipeline, Council acknowledges that there are market-based challenges being faced by the development industry which may impede development; especially in the medium density housing market that feeds rental accommodation vacancies.

“Some of these market challenges include: rising costs and availability of construction materials; civil contractor capacity and labour shortages; the cumulative effects of recent natural disaster recovery efforts and issues around the fragmentation of land and the willingness of existing owners to sell and develop land.

“Releasing additional land ahead of schedule will not help the housing supply situation. There is sufficient land available for residential development, but barriers such as economic conditions and other factors are affecting development and bringing housing to market.

“Council continues to meet with the development industry as part of ongoing discussions to address land supply concerns across the Region.

“Council must manage growth sustainably and responsibly and is actively planning for the future in developing a new Toowoomba Regional Growth Plan and planning scheme.

“We invite feedback from the development industry and our community for the new Toowoomba Regional Growth Plan during consultation starting on May 16, 2022.”

Cr O’Hara Sullivan said measures which Council this week identified as possible assistance measures included, but were not limited to:

• Potential discounting of operational works fees to encourage developers to continue to bring residential subdivision product through the pipeline to market,

• A Temporary Local Planning Instrument, subject to State Government approval, to streamline development in Emerging Community Zoned land,

• Potential infrastructure charges discount for medium density-type housing to provide more housing choice and particularly rental accommodation, and

• Consideration of use of a Charge Pipe system to provide an alternate stormwater solution for sites in the Low-Medium Density Zone that slope away from the street, making them more feasible for redevelopment.

These and other potential assistance measures will be the subject of further discussion and consideration by Council.