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Regulation or strangulation?

Where would we be without new housing? To start with we could not grow as a city and a state, with all the dire consequences for our economy that would result from population stagnation. We had a glimpse of that not so long ago, when Victoria was derided as the rustbelt state, suffering a decline in population as people left for perceived brighter prospects in other parts of Australia.

Then, there is the aesthetic factor. As faded post-war houses, worth less than their land value, fall to a new generation of owners as building sites, suburban streetscapes are transformed and refreshed. In this way, whilst period homes of quality are conserved and restored, Melbourneʼs lesser housing stock is replaced and updated.

So you would think that governments would welcome new housing, wouldnʼt you? You would think that they would encourage it, even. Well, you would be wrong.

In a devastating report, Ron Silberberg of the HIA has revealed the outrageous extent of government

disincentive to new- home buyers, amounting to $88,000 in indirect taxes on a typical, newly built house in Melbourne.house in Melbourne. As he points out, (AGE, 9.7.03) “new home owners are being taxed to pay for urban infrastructure such as roads, parks and sewerage, benefiting others for decades to come”.

But that, as they say, is not all. To over-taxing, you can add over- regulating. When the planning implications of ResCode are matched with the new 5 star energy-rating requirements there can be some farcical results. I have seen one site where, by the time provision has been made for boundary setbacks, over-looking restrictions, constraints on south facing glass (too bad that is where the views are), and other issues too complex to mention, the owner is left with blinkered view lines and a building footprint resembling a phone box. And that would still need double-glazing on its southern side! Project builders wonʼt touch it and even our design team will be sorely tested. Really, you wonder where it will all end.