Get in the zone for more affordable housing

Restrictive land use regulations play a part in Australia’s housing affordability crisis and have reduced affordable property options in Adelaide suburbs, a Flinders University study shows.

Dr Michael McGreevy, a research associate from the Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity, analysed the impact of prohibitive land use regulations in Glenelg, Hallett Cove, Seaford and Mawson Lakes.

“Planned estates and council land use regulations have reduced housing diversity in three of the suburbs,” says Southgate researcher Dr McGreevy, at the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders.

The research reveals there are significantly more affordable properties available, for both rent and sale, in Adelaide suburbs where land use regulations, specifically minimum allotment sizes,  have been absent for prolonged periods of time.

“The study also shows there is a direct link between the type of housing on offer and affordability when it comes time to rent or purchase a property,” he says.

“While zoning has curtailed the construction of affordable small properties in Seaford and Hallett Cove, multi unit developments have produced affordable options in Mawson Lakes and Glenelg when minimum allotment size regulations were absent,” Dr McGreevy says.

The study shows land use regulations have reduced housing yields from ad hoc redevelopments and contributed to an imbalance between townhouses, and walk-up flats and detached houses.

“As flats and townhouses are substantially cheaper when sold and resold compared to detached houses in the same area, this has reduced affordable housing options.”

“As a result there are far more affordable dwellings available to purchase or rent in Glenelg and Mawson Lakes than Seaford or Hallett Cove, despite the fact that detached properties in Mawson Lakes and Glenelg are on average more expensive,” Dr McGreevy says.

These land use regulations have been the norm across many Australian suburbs for decades, advantaging the construction of detached family homes and making small dwellings in multi-unit blocks commercially unviable reducing affordable housing options across the metropolitan area.

Dr McGreevy’s research also shows using median house prices to measure affordability is an inadequate method.

McGreevey M, ‘Housing diversity and affordability: The effects of 35 years of exclusionary land use regulations on housing affordability in Adelaide, South Australia’ will be published in the Journal of Urban Policy and Research. 

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