December 8, 2016
by Michalina Lisik

$512m Logan Motorway Enhancement Project gets green light from Queensland Government – Urbanalyst

$512m Logan Motorway Enhancement Project gets green light from Queensland Government

Queensland’s first Market-Led Proposal – the $512 million Logan Motorway Enhancement Project put forward by Transurban Queensland – has been given the green light by the State Government. 

Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the project would significantly upgrade the Logan and Gateway Extension motorways, improve road safety and travel times, as well as create jobs and stimulate the economy. 

“The Logan Motorway Enhancement Project will support about 1,300 jobs over its two-and-a-half year construction period, as well as deliver increased productivity and efficiency in South East Queensland’s road freight transport industry. 

“The project has been examined through the staged assessment process of the state government’s Market-Led Proposals initiative that offers private sector proponents the chance to get their ideas for new projects or services off the ground faster.” 

Mr Pitt said the Logan Motorway project was one of four market-led proposals (MLPs) worth more than $700 million in total that have progressed to stage 2 of the MLP process and the first to proceed to final binding contract stage. Other MLPs at stage 2 include:

  • Port of Brisbane’s proposal to establish a new international cruise ship terminal;

  • Plans for a Queensland Aquarium and Maritime Museum incorporating a new aquarium and redevelopment of the existing Maritime Museum at South Bank; and

  • RACQ’s proposal to transform the aging Mt Cotton Driver Training Centre into a driving centre of excellence and a world-class innovation hub for government, education and industry, education and industry groups to research, design and test new vehicle and road safety technologies. 

Minister for Main Roads and Road Safety, Mark Bailey, said the final concept design for the motorway upgrades reflected feedback from the community, road users and the trucking industry.

“They all want improved efficiency, travel times, safety, and connectivity that the Logan Motorway Enhancement Project delivers,” Mr Bailey said. 

“The Logan Motorway Enhancement Project now delivers greater scope and value for motorists as a result of working with stakeholders and locals.”

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December 6, 2016
by Michalina Lisik

Herston Quarter declared a priority development area by Queensland Government – Urbanalyst

Herston Quarter declared a priority development area by Queensland Government

The $1.1  billion Herston Quarter Redevelopment project was last week declared a Priority Development Area (PDA) by the Queensland Government to help accelerate the development of the key health and knowledge precinct in Brisbane. 

In August, one of Australia’s oldest health and financial services mutual organisations, Australian Unity was announced as preferred Herston Quarter developer after a comprehensive selection process conducted by Queensland Treasury. 

Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning Jackie Trad said declaring the site a PDA means Australian Unity will be able to deliver local investment opportunities and jobs sooner. 

“The Herston Quarter is a prime example of the Palaszczuk Government’s Advancing Our Cities and Regions Strategy which is generating jobs and economic growth by unlocking the potential of underutilised government-owned land. 

“Declaring a PDA means that the State Government becomes the assessment manager of the project, taking responsibility for approvals ensuring less red tap and a more cohesive and efficient outcome across the whole site.” 

Treasurer Curtis Pitt said declaring the Herston Quarter a PDA would deliver immediate benefits to the local economy. 

“By fast tracking this process we will see workers on the ground sooner, a great outcome for the community and for the local economy,” Mr Pitt said. 

“As part of the overall project, Australian Unity will develop a pedestrian link between Herston Road, the heritage core and the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) to provide easy access around the precinct and the high-frequency public transport.”

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said this project further demonstrates the government’s commitment to ensuring Queenslanders have access to modern world class health services close to home. 

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December 5, 2016
by Michalina Lisik

Brisbane apartment ‘hot boxes’ not suited for local climate, QUT research suggests – Domain News

Brisbane apartment 'hot boxes' not suited for local climate, QUT research suggests

Much of Brisbane’s new apartment stock is not built to handle the city’s sub-tropical climate, leaving residents short-changed in an attempt to keep cool, new research suggests. 

Of nearly 4000 planned apartments in 15 developments studied by QUT Associate Professor Rosemary Kennedy, the majority did not have necessary architectural solutions to deal with sub-tropical heat. The largest developments were the worst offenders, she said. None of the buildings examined were in the CBD. 

Apartments in Brisbane tend to be more focused on views and glamour, Professor Kennedy said. 

“I think the supremacy of the view is being used as a marketing tool,” she said. “They seem to be designed for short-term living.”

Sustainability consultant Valerie Bares, of ESC Consulting, agreed with Professor Kennedy. 

“From a developer’s side of things there’s a perception that building a climate responsive building will be more expensive, so they won’t make as much profit,” she said. 

“I think we’re starting to see a trend now where people are becoming more environmentally aware but I don’t think that’s yet translated to demand for that type of product.”

Professor Kennedy is concerned the long-term value of the houses would take a hit as energy costs continued to rise and climate control became more expensive, Professor Kennedy warned, adding that many residents would pay for energy they did not need. 

“In our climate in Brisbane, 80 per cent of the year, the natural conditions are quite conducive to not having to use air conditioning,” she said. 

“As better designs come on the market and people will vote with their feet.”

Future buyers could even shun the developments altogether, Ms Bares said. 

“The generations that are coming up are going to be a lot more discerning in terms of what they’re looking for,” she said. “Millenials are more environmentally aware and will be more demanding in what they buy.”

The choice of whether to open a window or turn on the air conditioning has the potential to make or break a sale. 

“If you can decrease that cost by moving somewhere else, where you can take that opportunity to stay cool in other ways, you may take that opportunity,” Professor Kennedy said. 

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November 24, 2016
by Michalina Lisik

Federal financing to support new runway and terminal expansion at Sunshine Coast Airport – Urbanalyst

Federal financing to support new runway and terminal expansion at Sunshine Coast Airport

The Australian Government has agreed to partly finance the transformation of the Sunshine Coast Airport into an international air passenger and freight hub, including a new runway and terminal upgrades.

Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester said under an agreement with the Sunshine Coast Council, the Federal Government will provide a concessional loan to $181 million to help finance construction of a new runway and extensions of the airport’s terminal and aircraft aprons. 

“Upon completion, the airport will be able to accommodate aircraft as large as the Airbus A330 or Boeing 787, which opens the region to a broader range of international locations, including important growth markets in Southeast Asia,” Mr Chester said. 

“The agreement to provide the Sunshine Coast Council with a concessional loan for the works demonstrates the Turnbull Government’s clear commitment to jobs and economic growth in regional economies, particularly those that will have a significant positive flow-on effect for the Australian economy as a whole. 

“The Federal Government’s decision to help finance the upgrade follows Sunshine Coast Airport’s recent formal designation as an international airport – a move which provides opportunities to promote the region as a leisure and business destination for new overseas markets.” 

The Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project includes:

  • A new 2,450m long x 45m wide runway aligned to the north-west/south-east

  • Two runway end taxiway loops and navigation aids

  • Expansion of the apron at the existing terminal

  • Staged expansion of the existing terminal 

  • A combined new Air Traffic Control tower and Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting station, access road and utilities

With the new runway, aircraft movements are forecast to grow by 20 per cent to 38,270 by 2020 and a further 30 per cent to 53,480 by 2040, making Sunshine Coast Airport a similar size to Mackay and Newcastle airports.

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November 23, 2016
by Michalina Lisik

$63m retirement village rises up on Sunshine Coast – The Queensland Times


They’re growing up and going up. 

The new-wave of retirees, the city-slicking, apartment-owning oldies will be rolling into a new-look Kawana from early-2018, after construction started today on Stockland’s $63 million Oceanside Retirement Village. 

The first sods were turned this morning on the eight-storey development which will deliver 140 units, a combination of one, two and three-bedroom, dubbed a ‘vertical village’.

Each unit will have a car parking space and there will be large amounts of visitor parking, but no specific caravan parking available for those grey nomads looking to settle into a lower maintenance lifestyle. 

The development marks the first of its kind in the Stockland portfolio and signals a possible shift in the way aged living is delivered in the region, with the new Maroochydore CBD also set to feature vertical retirement living.

All residents of the future Oceanside Retirement Village will be able to access a 660sq m clubhouse, gym, outdoor pool with decks and dining areas and the gardens will be fully landscaped and close to the new Kawana Health Precinct.

“By 2056 a quarter of our population will be over the age of 65. Vertical villages like this create options for older Australians to downsize and move into continued communities with centralised health and lifestyle services,” Stockland Group executive and CEO of Retirement Living, Stephen Bull said. 

“Today’s retirees expect to live in beautiful places, demand a high level of services, and enjoy a great lifestyle. Oceanside will offer all of this and more, encouraging happier, healthier residents with world class health and wellbeing services right on their doorstep.”

A partnership with Opal will see residents able to transition from the retirement village into the nearby, 151-bed Opal Aged Care facility which provides higher, more acute care for the elderly. 

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November 23, 2016
by Michalina Lisik

56% of Mortgage Borrowers are Sacrificing Time With Family to Pay off Debts – Your Investment

56% of Mortgage Borrowers are Sacrificing Time With Family to Pay off Debts

Alarming new research reveals that over half of Australian mortgage borrowers are sacrificing their social lives and time with their families to meet their mortgage repayments. 

The nationwide research was released by UBank, a division of National Australian Bank, as part of its Home Truths campaign

Of those surveyed:

  • One in four admit they are financially stretched because of mortgage repayments

  • 50% turn down at least two social outings a month because of their mortgage debts

  • 56% skip time with family in order to work longer hours to help pay the mortgage

  • 54% passed on a family holiday due to financial pressures

  • 59% cut short a holiday due to mortgage payment considerations

Even though interest rates are sitting at historically low levels, with many fixed and variable rate loans under the 4% mark, borrowers are being forced to take on additional hours at work and given up social events in order to afford repayments.

“The research uncovered some…alarming results, with the key takeout being that Australians are working too hard to pay off mortgages they can only just afford, and subsequently not living comfortably,” observed Lee Hatton, chief executive officer of UBank.

“UBank wants Australians to borrow less and live more in order to find balance and ensure they’re happy an not crippled by financial stress. While it’s important to be smart with money, we encourage Australians to choose houses that are in reach financially so they can live fulfilling and happy lives without undue financial stress.”

UBank’s research also indicates that many Australians are subjecting themselves to undue financial stress by buying homes that are bigger than what they actually need. 

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November 23, 2016
by Michalina Lisik

There was a slight dip in the national vacancy rate in October – Your Investment Property

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New data from SQM Research for October 2016 reveals that the number of national residential vacancies has fallen slightly, with 74,368 rental homes available. The national vacancy rate for October 2016 was 2.3%, down from 2.4% in September 2016.

Sydney and Melbourne recorded vacancy rates of 1.7% and 1.9% respectively, down marginally from September 2016. Meanwhile, Brisbane’s vacancy rate rose slightly to 3.0%, up from 2.9% in the previous month. Brisbane was one of the few capital cities to record a rise, along with Darwin. Darwin’s October 2016 vacancy rate was 3.2%, up slightly from 3.1% in September 2016. 

Perth reported the highest vacancy rate at 4.9%, though it was down slightly from September 2016, when it was 5%. Hobart had the tightest vacancy rate at just 0.5%, down from 0.6% in the previous month. 

Sydney remains the most expensive city for rents in the country. Asking rents in the Harbour City sat at $738 a week and $510 for units. In Canberra, asking rents increased to 9.3% for houses and 8% for units from a year earlier. 

Despite a tight vacancy rate, Hobart continues to offer the most affordable rental accommodations, with houses costing just $365 a week and units averaging just $297 a week. 

Perth has recorded falls in asking rents of 11% for houses and 10.7% for units over the past 12 months. Yearly falls have also been posted in Darwin, with asking rents down 2.5% for houses and 3.1% for units. In Brisbane, asking rents are down 1.8% for houses and up just 1.1% for units. 

“Asking rents have slipped back in Brisbane as vacancy rates have continued to rise this year. At 3.0%, the rental market is finally favouring tenants and given the surge in new apartment supply, rents in Brisbane could continue to fall from here, particularly in the inner city,” said Louis Christopher, managing director of SQM Research. 

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November 23, 2016
by Michalina Lisik

Sydney’s one-bedroom apartments becoming out of reach for first-home buyers – Domain News

Sydney's one-bedroom apartments becoming out of reach for first-home buyers

The median price for a one-bedroom apartment in Sydney has soared $200,000 in four years, leaving first-home buyers in a “bleak” situation where even entry-level homes are becoming out of reach, new data shows.

The new median of $630,000 means that more first-timers are becoming ineligible for the stamp duty concessions designed to help them enter the market – currently capped at $650,000 on new homes. 

“[This price] isn’t really considered affordable for the first home buyer,” said Taj Singh, co-founder of lobby group First Home Buyers Australia. 

A Domain Group analysis shows it now takes someone on an average salary four years to save a 20 per cent deposit for a one-bedroom apartment. And that’s provided they can afford to put aside close to $540 a week – or a third of their pre-tax income – and prices don’t go up. 

“Is it any wonder there’s record low numbers of first home buyers in Sydney?” said Domain Group chief economist Andrew Wilson. 

“Even on a measure of one-bedroom apartments it’s bleak.”

But in areas such as Hornsby, Asquith and Baulkham Hills – more than 25 kilometres from the CBD – one-bedroom apartments often sell “in excess of $600,000,” he said. 

And first-time buyers with children, or considering them in the near-term, would find a one-bedroom home “far from the best option”, he said. 

Despite this, the appetite for one-bedroom apartments has shown no signs of slowing. 

Take JQZ’s development Prime, in Macquarie Park. In the first week of November, more than 200 off-the-plan apartments were bought in under two hours. 

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November 23, 2016
by Michalina Lisik

Concerns Sydney levy could push prices higher – Australian Property Investor

Concerns Sydney levy could push prices higher

The revised Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney along with the six District Plans contains a 10-per-cent levy proposal on new housing to fund affordable housing, which could increase the cost of all new housing according to Urban Taskforce Australia. 

“While there’s a lot of good work in the long-awaited District Plans for Sydney, there’s an ominous proposal to add yet another levy onto new housing,” Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson says.

“The plans use a false logic that by requiring developers to provide up to 10 per cent of new housing as affordable this will help with Sydney’s rapidly escalating house prices.

“Clearly, the cost of giving away 10 per cent of new homes will have to be distributed across the other 90 per cent of new homes, therefore forcing house prices up.”

The Urban Taskforce, Johnson says, has presented a better way to create even more affordable housing by allowing new projects an increased floor space of 20 per cent, provided it’s for affordable housing. 

“We estimate that this could provide 40,000 new affordable homes over the next 10 years,” he says.

“The Greater Sydney Commission fact sheet is now targeting 189,100 new homes over five years, which requires an average of 37,820 new homes a year. The highest number of new homes in recent years has been 30,000 last financial year so the most important task the Greater Sydney Commission has is to increase housing supply, but by adding a new tax the opposite is likely to occur.”

According to Johnson, a Greater Sydney Commission Fact Sheet does suggest that the levy would be in areas where some floor space uplift would compensate for the levy but the approach to “give away affordable homes” under SEPP 70 rather than providing them as low-cost rental for 10 years as indicated in the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP will definitely affect the feasibility of future housing development, he says. 

“Sydney needs a plan to increase housing supply dramatically and to provide large numbers of affordable homes. The Urban Taskforce approach achieves both of these aims. 

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November 23, 2016
by Michalina Lisik

Units will bear brunt as residential building comes off record peak – Australian Property Investor


New residential building will slow for the next two years to bottom out at “what will still be a historically healthy level of activity” according to the Housing Industry Association (HIA). 

The latest HIA National Outlook, which is released today, looks at conditions in the residential building and renovation markets around the country. 

HIA acting chief economist Warwick Temby says: “Notwithstanding the current uncertainties around the broader economic outlook, especially with the future US policy settings up in the air, HIA is forecasting a measured return to more normal levels of home building activity over the next couple of years. 

“The recent peak in new home building was unprecedented: an all-time record 229,823 new residential dwellings started building in 2015/16.

“This record level of building has made a major contribution to Australia’s economic growth over the last few years and eased the under-supply of housing for both owner-occupiers and renters that had built up over the previous 10 years.

“Multi-unit building, especially apartments in the eastern states, has driven much of the growth in this cycle and is also forecast to lead the slowdown in new activity over the next couple of years.

“From their peak of 117,000 in this calendar year, multi-unit commencements are expected to fall by over 40 per cent by 2018/19. 

“A softer landing is forecast for detached homes with 103,000 starts predicted for 2018/19, down 9 per cent on the peak this year.”

Temby says the forecast falls in new activity won’t be uniform across the country – Western Australia and South Australia started their down-cycle well in advance of other states. 

“Total new commencements are forecast to decline 3.1 per cent, 18.5 per cent and 5.1 per cent over the period 2016/1 – 2018/19, which would take commencements to a trough of 172,242, which is the average for the last 10 years,” he explains.

“Actual building activity on the ground won’t decline in the same way as new starts due to the substantial volume of work under construction that won’t be completed until 2018 and into 2019.

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