Lots of land, yet few houses

THERE'S sufficient building land zoned and approved in the Rockhampton region to meet demand for the next 30 years.

So why isn't it being developed?

It's a question Mayor Brad Carter will pose this morning in an address to business leaders.

He will tell those attending Capricorn Enterprise's Leaders Series Forum that there is land with the potential to yield 14,850 lots either approved or zoned for residential and rural residential development.

And despite the high demand for rental properties and a rapidly rising population, the council says only 500 homes are being built a year across the region.

In a speech aimed at dispelling the myth that the council is responsible for holding up development, Cr Carter will say that it's the developers and land owners sitting on their assets that is at the root of the problem.

"Some might have paid too much for the land before the global financial crisis and the numbers just don't stack up for them.

"At the moment we estimate there are 3200 serviced blocks of land out there, but they are not being built on.

"Some developers are land-banking, some might be finding it difficult to get finance and some of the blocks might be difficult to build on but I want to make it clear that the council is not the reason that more homes are not being built.

"If the council didn't approve another development for the next five years there's more than enough in the pipeline to meet demand.

"Real estate agents are saying that there is a growing demand and land sales are picking up, but the region is not booming like Gladstone."

Although the number of approvals had declined in the last few years, so had completed projects.

He says 65% of the approved or zoned sites are on the Capricorn Coast.

In relative terms land is relatively cheap in the region. In 2010 the median land price in Rockhampton was $140,000 per block. In Gladstone, it's between $220,000 and $250,000. In Mackay blocks go for $200,000.

Yeppoon-based developer Ravi Setu laid the blame for the partial stagnation at the door of the resources boom.

The owner of Pacific Properties has three housing projects under way but says developers are facing massive increases in costs.

"We are paying a heavy price for the boom in Gladstone and out west. Demand for materials and labour has pushed up production costs by $200 a square metre in the last two months. That's a 200% rise.

"In my experience the planners and engineers at the council are fantastic to deal with. Land prices here are dirt cheap at the moment but the cost of production is often more than developers can sell for and that's what's holding us up.

"Landowners and developers have to make a profit. No-one can afford to do it for nothing."

He said there was not a lot more the council could do to help developers.

HOUSING NUMBERS

  • The region needs 21,000 homes in the next 20 years
  • Developers are currently building only 500 a year, half of what's required
  • Lots currently fetching up to $250,000 in Gladstone are $140,000 here
  • There are 3200 fully serviced blocks of land where building could start
  • 65% of approved developments are at the Cap Coast

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