Why can’t I live in Kiama? Homebuyers despair at lack of housing in the region.

Lack of supply, skyrocketing house prices and overly complex planning system have prevented many from realising the Australian dream of home ownership. But according to the Chairs of both The UDIA Illawarra and Shoalhaven Chapters, to understand what has led to this escalating situation, you have to look at a number of facts.  To start with the Kiama Local Government Area has had the highest price growth of any suburb in all of NSW, pricing most out of the market.  An alarming statistic for an area that would typically house essential workers, nurses, teachers, first responders as well as university students who just want an affordable home reasonably close to their place of work and study.

If that seems like a critical issue that should be dealt with by local government… it’s actually not the most extreme story.  A University Professor has been forced to live in his car, families have been forced out of Wollongong due to the significant rise in house prices, people are downsizing – opting to live in apartments rather than houses, just so they don’t have to leave the area and it’s only getting worse.

There are actually very few one and two-bedroom apartments currently available in Wollongong, there may be plenty of cranes, but units are snapped up off the plan before most even know they are available. In 2019, UDIA Illawarra Chapter Chair Simon Kersten presented a report Everything in Place for Recovery which showed that by the end of 2021 the region would be out of apartment stock – sadly that prediction has come true.

Up until a few months ago, people were paying a deposit on a block that they wouldn’t get for two years.  It is next to impossible to buy a block of land to build on and if you are successful, it’s currently a 12 month wait from deposit to being able to start the process of the build.

So, there was light at the end of the tunnel for prospective homeowners when a proposal was put forward to rezone a patch of land that would house 350 dwellings which were given the gateway by the Department of Planning.  However, locals objected to the proposal in such a way that the Minister is now reviewing the rezoning decision.  This is just one example of many such obstacles.  What people may not realise, is when they object to development such as this, they are constraining supply and by effect, raising house prices.

UDIA calls for easier, quicker and less red tape in the planning process and is encouraged that Kiama Council is currently preparing their Housing Strategy. We hope that Council will maintain regular pipeline of housing and make every effort to streamline the planning system, the provision of infrastructure including local roads which state transport does not provide.

Below are some key facts from UDIA’s Greenfield Land Supply Pipeline Report (June 2021) for the Illawarra Shoalhaven region:

  • 7,000 lots that are programmed for delivery by fy29 in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven need enabling infrastructure of water, sewer, power and roads to be delivered.
  • 67 per cent of expected lots are constrained by sewer infrastructure and water infrastructure.
  • Even if current unmet demand is disregarded, at the expected rate of land release there will be an additional 5,700 homes worth of unmet demand for greenfield housing in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven by FY30.
  • If all expected lots are delivered, including those currently facing infrastructure constraints, supply will fall short of demand in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven by 700 lots per annum.
  • Accelerating key rezonings will unlock an additional 600 lots by FY25 without negatively impacting future development. This will significantly reduce the predicted undersupply of new greenfield homes in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven while supporting jobs and generating economic growth.

The Illawarra-Shoalhaven faces significant challenges in meeting the annual estimated demand for new greenfield housing. From FY22 – FY25, the key challenge is to deliver enabling infrastructure, with opportunities to boost supply through accelerated rezonings. Before supply drops off in FY25, the supply pipeline needs to be replenished through the faster release of new precincts.

 For more information or for comments from Chair of UDIA Illawarra Chapter– Simon Kersten or Chair of UDIA Shoalhaven Chapter – Lawson Fredericks,

please contact Deanna Lane, Media & Communications Manager UDIA NSW
on 0416 295 898 or dlane@udiansw.com.au

ENDS