The ACT Government has flagged another record release of dwelling sites in the territory, with 18,500 housing sites to be supplied over four years.

The announcement adds 2500 sites to the accelerated release program announced in last year’s budget and will put another 4000 blocks into the mix in 2014-15.

Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said the releases would help the territory address housing affordability.

”Managing land supply is vital to help stabilise prices, to ensure adequate land is available to meet demand, and provide certainty to the private sector, helping ACT builders plan ahead,” he said.

Most of the sites will be released in Gungahlin and Molonglo, with others in Phillip and the Kingston Foreshore precinct.

The Government has allocated almost $90 million over four years to support the residential land release program, with another $20 million earmarked for commercial and industrial blocks.

Millions will go towards extending John Gorton and Horse Park drives into Canberra’s fringes, and $10million has been set aside for water and sewage services into Molonglo.

But Master Builders Association of the ACT executive director John Miller questioned whether continuous accelerated release of greenfield land was a sustainable tactic.

”It’s somewhat aspirational do we really need that many residential sites,” he said.

”I guess time’s only going to tell on that.”

He said the Government could be forced to re-evaluate its land release policy in coming budget rounds.

”We’ve had commencements at very high levels over the last couple of years, around the 4000 mark.

”Whether that’s sustainable in the out years will be determined by the market, and there has to be a point really where we catch up [with demand].”

About 2400 of the sites will be dedicated to affordable housing.

Housing Industry Association southern NSW and ACT executive director Stuart Collins welcomed news of the boosted release program.

”My concern has been, however, that when they talk about accelerated land release it does translate to release itself but we’re still not seeing that land progress through the pipeline to the point where it’s shovel ready,” Mr Collins said.

Canberra Times, 4 May 2011, by Louis Andrews

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