Saturday, December 04, 2010

Tamworth, GPs & rental housing

I reported on Tamworth's GP shortage In February this year (Tamworth GPs close their books) and then again in July (Update on Tamworth GP shortage). Now there is a new twist to the story.

According to a report by Alysia Ferguson in the Northern Daily Leader, Rental crisis looms for new doctors, rental accommodation in Tamworth is now so short that medicos who do want to come are struggling to find places to rent.

I blinked a bit, but then realised that this was an example of a broader problem. I just wanted to broadbrush this for later discussion, following up on a post I did in March, Conundrums with New England real estate.

Recently, Tamworth's growth has picked up, something of a trend across inland New England. This quickly creates a housing problem.

Inland New England centres who have experienced relatively slow population growth, even declines in some cases, do not have large stocks of serviced blocks available for development. Further, the stock of rental housing is not high. In some smaller centres, there may be none at all.

Earlier this year, the Federal Government's stimulus package took a slab of housing out of the normal rental marketplace. The first home buyers grant increased house prices and reduced housing rental availability at the lower end of the marketplace. Then the social housing programs with their focus on quick to market developments reduced stock in the development pipeline.

In saying this, I am not being critical of the programs, although I was very critical at the time of the increased grants relating to existing house. I am simply commenting on the effects.

With reduced stocks and some growth, the rental marketplace is primed to go critical.

When you consider that inland towns generally have lots of land nearby, there really shouldn't be a housing shortage outside short term effects. The problem, at least as I see it, is that it NSW Government rules and taxes now make it so difficult and expensive to both develop land and then build houses that it can take a long time for new stock to become available.

This problem holds across the state. However, it is actually most acute in areas where stocks are small. In Sydney, life becomes more difficult and expensive, but the city limps by. In country areas, it can quickly become an absolute growth stopper.

There is, I think, a measure of agreement that it would be better if population growth were to be better spread. If this is to happen, we have to reduce Government imposed barriers to growth.

In fairness, the current NSW Government has taken steps to reduce fees and charges. Further, in the case of Guyra it has been prepared to join with council in funding a new green fields land development. That said, its rules and controls still accentuate the problem.  Real change is needed.  

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