Sophie Underwood and Peter McGlone respond to the Minister for Housing on fast-track rezoning plans for Huntingfield

Huntingfield public meeting held on 25 July 2019

Previously published: Talking Point, Mercury, Saturday 3 August 2019

Housing and Planning Minister Roger Jaensch’s defence of his government’s fast tracking of land at Huntingfield for housing is not convincing (“Rezoning will fast-track more housing where it’s needed”, Talking Point, July 29). We expect the Huntingfield Housing Supply Order to be tabled in the parliament next week.

The Minister defends fast-tracking land rezoning because: “We need to pull all the levers we can to address the housing shortage”. But the Huntingfield fast-tracking will deliver very small gains for affordable and social housing (the Minister says up to 15 per cent out of 500 houses) while the Government ignores bigger levers such as population growth and Airbnb.

The Minister says that land to be fast-tracked is in the areas of “high demand” for social and affordable housing but Huntingfield just happens to be where the Crown land is. There has been no evidence provided that this area is more deserving than Glenorchy, Rokeby or others.

The Minister keeps repeating the claim that previous housing rezoning orders have passed the parliament as if this automatically makes the Huntingfield housing order acceptable.

Planning Matters Alliance Tasmania president Anne Harrison and Tarremah Steiner School Council chair Rachel Downie address the crowd at a Kingborough community meeting

Huntingfield is much bigger and denser and the Tasmanian Parliament has a perfect right to refuse this one and accept others.

The Minister says that “at least 15 per cent [of house lots] will be set aside for social and affordable housing” but there is no guarantee that this target will be achieved as it is not included in the legislation going to parliament. Also, there is no separate target for social housing (housing paid for by government). This is a major concern as this should be the highest priority.

Incredibly, at Huntingfield, the Minister is happy that 85 per cent of house lots will be sold on the free market at any price, when more could be earmarked for more social and affordable housing.

The Minister says that the Huntingfield land has “been earmarked for housing for many years and is clearly identified in Kingborough Council’s Land Use Strategy”. Yes it is, but the council’s strategy and the state government’s 2015-2019 Housing Action Plan earmarked the land for 230 house lots, not 500.

Plus the Government’s Quarterly Housing Report June 2017 outlines that a master plan for Huntingfield would be developed in conjunction with community prior to any rezone.

The Government’s main justification for this fast-track rezoning is that it will “deliver more homes sooner” as stated by the Minister. However there is no guarantee that homes will actually be priced to be affordable.

The nearby 2017 Stage 1 Huntingfield Crown land subdivision was intended to deliver affordable houses but delivered none. All house lots were sold on the free market at the going price.

In addressing community concerns about the fact that the proposal was not publicly advertised and bypasses the normal council and Tasmanian Planning Commission process, the Minister simply says that: “Importantly, rezoning is just the first step.” Yes, rezoning is the first step and most critical step. Once the rezoning is approved, most concerns, such as the impacts of greater density (such as on traffic), cannot be fixed in the next stage of the process.

The Minister says “the subdivision itself will still need to go through all the normal planning and approval processes with the Kingborough Council, including further consultation.” When the development application goes to council the housing component is “permitted”, which means council is obliged to approve it and the community will not get a say or a right to appeal the decision.