Commercial Property Leaders Key to Affordable Housing Solution

February 28 2024

Kollosche Commercial considers how a partnership between commercial developers and council could end the city’s intensifying housing crisis.
Commercial Property Leaders Key to Affordable Housing Solution

After City Plan reforms were abandoned by government bodies in February, commercial property leaders may now hold the key to alleviating the Gold Coast’s housing crisis.

Council officials and the State Government had spent eight years and millions of dollars evaluating the construction of high-density towers to cater for the city’s booming population.

With work on the reforms now shelved, the housing crisis has been stripped of any solution-based strategy, inspiring commercial property experts to step in and provide alternative answers.

Kollosche Commercial sales agent Adam Grbcic says the crisis has pushed the city to a critical point as an undersupply of existing dwellings has compounded with a 30 per cent shortage of new dwellings.

“The commercial arm of Kollosche works closely with developers in purchasing sites. However, frequently, their plans fail to materialise due to prolonged approval processes and various external factors such as build costs and shifting market trends, which render them unfeasible due to bureaucratic red tape,” Adam explains.

“It’s evident that there’s been a conflicting dynamic between the council and developers, but this must evolve in order to find workable solutions.”

As the Gold Coast’s annual population growth rate climbs to 1.4 per cent, property prices continue to rise, putting increased pressure on buyers hoping to enter the market. The rental market also remains strained despite high vacancy rates.

Southport | Kollosche

Introduce means testing

Adam believes the key to housing accessibility and affordability lies in actioning a series of collaborative and immediate solutions.

Currently, the development approval process lacks rigorous guidelines as it aims to maintain a level playing field and invite widespread applications. Adam believes this process must be overhauled.

“Applicants should be required to provide both a needs analysis and a feasibility study with their application,” he says. “This would offer evidence to support the viability of the proposed development on a commercial basis.”

Adam acknowledges that providing accurate projections may be difficult during the early stages of approval, however increased transparency will lead to smarter and faster decision-making.

“Additional screening would eliminate flawed plans, not to mention the council workload required to approve each application,” he says. “It would reduce the pressure on council resources and allow for a more efficient review of the applications expertly crafted to succeed.”

Engage the private sector

Unlocking the knowledge and experience of the city’s most successful development companies would provide unparalleled insight into town planning, according to Adam.

“With the news of the City Plan reforms being abandoned after eight years and the millions reported to have been spent, the Gold Coast is left with little solution to the housing shortage,” says Adam.

“Utilising the knowledge of the more successful developers and consultants, in conjunction with both the local and state government, would be a far more efficient strategy.

“We are so fortunate to have developers who have dedicated their careers, thrived, and survived through multiple property cycles whose knowledge and experience are invaluable.”

“There are a handful of developers whose visions alone have ultimately shaped our city. Their ideas have created dwellings and infrastructure within areas previously deemed undevelopable.”

Adam believes that leaning on the expertise of architects, engineers and consultants within the private sector would result in more considered town planning.

“These professionals have delivered esteemed projects right across the country and, quite often, globally,” Adam says. “These are the people, in conjunction with local councils and the State Government, who should be making their mark on the city’s future.”

Increase builder support

Adam strongly believes government intervention is essential in solving the affordable housing crisis and says incentivising quality developers is the way forward.

“To curb the challenges of affordable housing and promote a build-to-rent model, providing targeted financial support and resources to teams with proven track records will spark an increase in the development of affordable housing projects,” says Adam.

“Why not integrate affordable housing into stages of multi-tower or multi-staged projects being developed by the private sector? Pre-committing to portions of developments would further assist with the overall funding of so many of the projects across the Gold Coast which have not commenced.

“In doing so, government bodies will also be fostering innovation and affordability within a much broader housing market, appealing to a larger spectrum of Gold Coast residents.”

The perception of affordable housing needs to change, according to Adam, who says young families and hard-working individuals are among those who can no longer afford accommodation.

Adam also highlights the need for government intervention to assist with the delivery of these projects, to the benefit of all stakeholders.

“Several builders have been unable to wear the rise in building costs over the last few years which leaves no winners,” he says.

“It’s not only the developers who wear this cost, but the builders, sub-contractors, the city’s reputation and, most importantly, the consumers who have waited two, three or even more years for the delivery of their new dwelling.”

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