Saul Eslake backs AHURI report into inclusionary zoning

PLANNING: Economist Saul Eslake thinks the state government should strongly consider inclusionary zoning in some instances. Picture: Phillip Biggs
PLANNING: Economist Saul Eslake thinks the state government should strongly consider inclusionary zoning in some instances. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Affordable housing quotas on some private developments could form part of a solution to Tasmania’s housing crisis

That is the view of economist and Housing Choices Australia director Saul Eslake. 

Mr Eslake said inclusionary zoning, which mandates a quota of affordable housing be built in a property development, should be considered for housing built on government land. 

“In South Australia [inclusionary zoning] worked well when housing was being built on government land,” he said. 

“The government ought to be talking about land available for housing where inclusionary zoning could be used as a tool to increase affordable housing supply.”

A state government spokeswoman said there were plans to release 239 hectares of government-owned land that is potentially suitable for residential development.

There were no plans for inclusionary zoning for the predicted 3000 future homes on this land, however the spokeswoman said the government aimed to build another 1500 affordable homes over the next five years. 

Mr Eslake’s suggestion comes in the wake of a report by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute looking at inclusionary planning in Britain, America and South Australia.

The report found 17 per cent of residential property built in South Australia between 2005 and 2015 was affordable, partly thanks to state government inclusionary zoning measures.

Another form of inclusionary planning outlined was the use of density bonuses, whereby developers are awarded subsidies high-density housing projects.

The report also revealed that every state in Australia had attempted some from of inclusionary planning project since 1980, except Tasmania.

Outgoing Master Builders Tasmania executive director, and soon-to-be senior adviser to Treasurer Peter Gutwein, Michael Kerschbaum said inclusionary zoning would make life difficult for developers. 

“Setting a quota is ridiculous, because it’s using a blunt instrument,” he said.

“When you’re in a blue ribbon suburb it is hard to achieve the affordable targets.

“If we can fast-track the proposed land release that’ll put a lot of land into the market that is affordable housing.

This is a broad societal question – do we want affordable housing integrated into a community or to create ghettos and fringe suburbs?

Economist Saul Eslake

Mr Eslake said he was unsure about property quotas across all private developments, however he emphasised the importance of not concentrating all affordable housing in one area. 

“One of the things inclusionary zoning tries to address is a change of attitude –  that it is not a bad thing to live next to low-income people and this will not affect the prices of your property,” he said.

“This is a broad societal question – do we want affordable housing integrated into a community or to create ghettos and fringe suburbs?”