Development red tape cut in NSW budget housing plan

William Ton |

New homes will be fast-tracked under NSW budget initiatives worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to reduce development red tape as the government looks at mimicking the bank of mum and dad.

A $253.7 million budget boost to pay for more planners and technology will speed up housing development approvals critical to addressing the housing crisis which the government said has resulted in a generation of young people and families leaving NSW.

The funds will address budget uncertainty in the planning system with investments in reforms incorporating the government’s net zero goals, technological upgrades to the planning portal and artificial intelligence.

Treasurer Daniel Mookhey
Treasurer Daniel Mookhey says the $253.7 million boost will put certainty into the planning system. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

Treasurer Daniel Mookhey said any steps that get housing approvals moving are a “must-have” investment.

“This investment puts certainty into the planning system and will deliver better outcomes for a better NSW,” he said.

It follows previous schemes to train more planners through a cadetship program and a planning TAFE diploma. 

Property developer advocacy group Urban Taskforce welcomed the plan, saying it brought NSW into line with other states that had already updated planning rules.

“Today’s announcement is an investment in the future capability and workload of the state planning assessment team,” acting chief executive Stephen Fenn said.

The government will also explore ways to help the home construction industry obtain finance to speed up new home builds and increase the viability of housing projects.

Increased costs of building materials, labour shortages and financing issues were hampering new homes being built in NSW, it said.

A pilot project will explore whether the government should become a guarantor for some development loans and whether pre-purchasing a specified number of houses could provide industry confidence among other options to increase affordability.

Homes under construction
Developer groups and housing advocates have welcomed measures to address home-building bottlenecks. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

Planning Minister Paul Scully likened the proposed scheme to parents acting as a guarantor for their children’s homes.

“What we’re hoping to do is a repeat of that on a larger scale so we can deliver the thousands of new homes that we need in NSW,” Mr Scully said.

Financial institutions and applicants will be consulted on the project’s guidelines.

Housing Now!, an alliance of business groups, unions and housing advocates, welcomed the new measures emphasising the urgency of turning development approvals into homes.

Chair David Borger said the additional measures to address bottlenecks in home building would help relieve the state’s housing crisis, branding the pilot “bold and exciting”.

From 2025, foreign home buyers and the state’s 20,000 foreign residential property owners will be slugged more in land tax, from eight to nine per cent and four to five per cent respectively.

The government expects more properties to be made available to NSW residents under the change, with a windfall of about $1.68 billion across four years including the state’s land tax threshold increase to be used to address the housing crisis.

“We want to make sure that every available home is given to domestic buyers ahead of foreign buyers,” Mr Mookhey said.

The Productivity and Equality Commission will also be tasked with reviewing housing supply issues in NSW, including the barriers impacting housing supply and the construction industry, with a report to be handed to the government in August.

The housing funding comes as the state government announced a four-year, $1.4 billion investment in new school builds and upgrades for regional communities.

Families living in Sydney’s west will also benefit from a government investment of $6.5 million, matched by the Paul Ramsay Foundation, for a new integrated child and family hub in Carramar.