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Queensland Streets Ahead in Race to Create Smart Cities

Queensland Streets Ahead in Race to Create Smart Cities

Queensland has several flagship masterplanned communities under development, including Ripley, Springfield, Yarrabilba and although a little further away, Flinders.

This puts the local government areas of Ipswich City Council and the City of Logan in an enviable position to lead the rest of the nation as benchmarks for creating truly smart cities.

That benchmark will be measured in large part by how well early-stage masterplanned communities can overcome the major challenge posed by people’s dependency on private car ownership and the need to develop effective public transport networks.

According to research, people are put off by public transportation if they need to walk more than 500 metres to catch a bus or train.

Put simply, we prefer to drive—even down to the local shopping centre—which not only creates traffic but also unnecessary parking space pressures.

The parking space dilemma is a problem certainly worth solving.

Historically, we have seen many cities add more parking space to their suburban train stations only to eventually run out of space, and inadvertently creating last-mile traffic congestion with commuters exiting the train station car park during peak hours.

This scenario extends to shopping centres, dining precincts, sporting venues, and the list goes on in highly-urbanised suburbs, especially during weekends and around special events.

Because Queensland’s flagship masterplanned communities are starting from almost a blank canvas, they can work closely with the local government area and public transport authority and autonomous transport solutions providers like industry leader EasyMile to integrate urban design and autonomous vehicle technology to address any first- or last-mile transportation blackspots and make public transport more appealing.

▲ EasyMile EZ10 on Karragarra Island, in partnership with RACQ.
▲ EasyMile EZ10 on Karragarra Island, in partnership with RACQ.

This is a very important narrative, especially considering the vision of communities such as Springfield for people to live and work locally.

Currently 47 per cent of Ipswich workers work locally but only two per cent commute to work via public transport.

Imagine how much space could be used for anything but parking if public transportation became a more attractive option?

Masterplanned community developer Sekisui House Australia, the developer behind the Ecco Ripley and Ripley Town Centre masterplanned communities, says connectivity is “critical to manage future transport demand, and will ultimately affect the region’s and south-east Queensland’s ability to compete globally, grow sustainably and achieve high-quality living outcomes for the community”.

In addition to preparing for a much-needed rail connection (between Ipswich Central and Springfield Central), the developer is also exploring opportunities for an autonomous transport solution to connect residences to key transport infrastructure as it looks to future proof against the projected growth of the region— approximately 133,800 new residents by 2036.

Masterplanned communities can lead the way by delivering on their integrated transportation and smart mobility vision.

Many cities around the world want to promote active modes of transportation such as cycling and walking, however, uptake can be mixed, with safety concerns often cited as a key deterrent.

Building townships from scratch gives masterplanned communities the advantage of creating “complete streets” ripe for shared autonomous transport.

These streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities—which in turn can facilitate a truly smart mix of transportation options.

▲ EasyMile EZ10 on Karragarra Island in partnership with RACQ
▲ EasyMile EZ10 on Karragarra Island in partnership with RACQ

To date, what we’ve learnt is the modern city is one that will be smart and connected: not just from a data perspective but a truly physical one, where people can move seamlessly from point A to point B using a multimodal array of travel options including scooters, ride-sharing, e-bikes, autonomous shuttles.

The transition has not been straightforward, because our streets have not been built to safely accommodate these new means of transport.

But Queensland is in the box seat to change this.

The Sunshine State’s visionary masterplanned communities, located in one of Australia’s fastest population growth corridors, have the advantage of doing things differently from predecessors by creating truly smart cities.

Autonomous vehicles are already solving first and last mile transport challenges around the world, and they can deliver the same impact in Logan and Ipswich.

The reward of a smart and autonomous first- and last-mile solution offers a plausible return on investment: it will not only reduce the dependency on private vehicles, unlock economic benefits, create sustainable communities through integrated land use but also improve property value.

To find out more about how these benefits have been delivered in other smart MPCs, please drop EasyMile a line.

This article is republished from under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Gold Coast

Desperate renters squeezed out of Qld market

Desperate renters

The property market is so squeezed in one state at the moment that Aussies are taking desperate measures to simply secure a home.

Desperate renters are being squeezed out of the Gold Coast and Brisbane rental markets, with some forced to stay in cars and caravan parks, agents say.

Dozens of potential tenants are competing for scarce rental properties with some offering up to $50 more than the asking price to secure a home.

First quarter results for 2021 show 70 per cent of Queensland’s rental vacancies remain under one per cent according to Real Estate Institute of Queensland figures released in April.

“There’s an over demand of tenants and lack of stock,” said Carmen Kennedy from Coomera Realty on the Gold Coast.

Two recent rental properties on the Gold Coast’s Coomera area both drew more than 40 people to inspections, she said.

“They weren’t aware, they thought it would try and help them get the property over other people applying.

“They were just so desperate, staying in cars and sleeping at caravan parks. It’s been pretty tough couple of months for people out there.”

The development is being driven by record-low rates, government support measures and a pandemic-driven migration, pushing Brisbane’s private rental market’s vacancy rates to their lowest levels since October 2012, the REIQ says.

In the last year, rental vacancies dropped 1.1 per cent across the Brisbane local government area, while Greater Brisbane saw the market tighten by 0.9 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Gold Coast rental market tightened to reach a record low of 0.6 per cent in the last 15 years of data records. The western suburb of Oxenford had the lowest vacancy rate of just 0.1 per cent.

Ms Kennedy said advertised on its rental promotional material for people not to call or email the agency because it was so overwhelmed.

“We received over 200 inquiries per property, so it’s just too overwhelming for us to do our job to try and speak to every single person who’s interested in the properties,” she said.

“That was probably six weeks ago now and we haven’t had another available property since then.

“We’ve had lots of people crying to us, begging for properties, leaving domestic violence situations and having to get accommodation for them and their kids.

“It’s pretty hard to have to process those applications.

“Everyone has a bit of a situation at the moment where they don’t have friends or family to stay with, so they’re in caravan parks or staying in short term accommodation and it’s costing them double the rent if they were renting a normal house.

“It’s pretty heartbreaking.”

Natgroup Real Estate in the Gold Coast suburb of Helensvale has a register of more than 1200 people looking for a rental property.

Manager Edgar Natolo said people were applying for properties without seeing them in person, based on the online ad alone.

“We’re now leasing them to pre-approved tenants, so they’re not even hitting the market,” Mr Natolo said.

Desperate renters

People are being forced to stay in cars or caravan parks due to the competitive rental market, agents say. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy PiperSource:News Corp Australia 

“You probably get 60 inquiries in one day and 30 turn up for the open home inspections, and by the time you get back to the office you’re flooded with applications.

“It is a bit sad because a lot of them do cry when one of the girls rings them up and says they’ve missed out.

“It’s tough.”

Tenants Queensland CEO Penny Carr said some renters were being asked to leave without grounds, then seeing the property have a significant rent rise.

“Some of those people might have been living there for some time, paid the rent all the time and then asked to leave,” she said.

“Then they’re turning up to inspect properties and there’s large numbers of people there and they’re having to put in multiple applications.

“That’s pretty stock and standard in terms of reports I’m getting from across the state.”

Ms Carr said some renters were offering long periods of rent upfront, which agents aren’t allowed to ask for, but can accept.

“Sometimes there’s subtle encouragement for offering up higher rent or a longer period of rent upfront,” she said.

“It’s a very difficult situation for renters statewide. It’s not just Queensland, it’s across Australia.

“They’re under enormous pressure.”

Ms Carr said some renters were being taken to the tribunal for not moving out while others were staying at inappropriate accommodation like boarding houses or couch surfing.

The situation was preventing renters from asserting their rights, for fear they would be pushed out and would have to find another property.

“You don’t ask for repairs, you don’t push for things you need or want in the property,” she said.

“You don’t assert your rights, basically.”



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Market Place

Apartments Drive Growth in Building Approvals

Building Approvals

The highs of Australian house approvals have been joined by the apartment sector, with a huge increase recorded.

The number of multi-unit dwellings approved in March jumped 63.6 per cent, the biggest increase since November 2017, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

New house approvals remained at near-record highs, edging up by 0.1 per cent to 14117, an increase of just nine houses on February’s results.

Total dwelling approvals rose in New South Wales by 26.9 per cent, Victoria 24.7 per cent, Queensland 12.1 per cent and South Australia 3.5 per cent, in seasonally adjusted terms.

Western Australia and Tasmania fell -6.4 per cent and -4.8 per cent respectively.

Dwellings approved by building type

 Building Approvals

^Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, March 2021 Seasonally Adjusted

ABS director of construction statistics Daniel Rossi said the apartment market was the major contributor to building approvals continuing the record climb this month.

“The total number of dwellings approved in March was the second-highest recorded, only exceeded by the November 2017 result,” Rossi said.

“The number of private sector house approvals also remained at elevated levels due to HomeBuilder.

House and apartment approvals 

Building Approvals

^Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, March 2021 Seasonally Adjusted 

Commonwealth Bank senior economist Kristina Clifton said the end of HomeBuilder on March 31 would have an impact on new house approvals.

“We expect approvals for houses to drop off relatively sharply during the next few months as many people who were looking to build a home would have brought this decision forward in order to receive the grant,” Clifton said.

“Nonetheless, record low interest rates will continue to support the demand for dwellings.”


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Speculators back in the game to push up property prices

property prices

Investors in residential property have come out of hibernation and were the driving force behind the record 5.5 per cent increase in housing finance in March.

Having kept a low profile during the pandemic, investors and speculators are now returning to the market with gusto. And that suggests only one thing – home prices will continue to be pushed higher.

The colloquial definition of what turns a housing boom to a housing bubble is the increasing participation of investors. Judging by the latest numbers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) investors could soon replace first home buyers as key drivers of the red-hot property market.

The 12.7 per cent increase in financing to investors dwarfed the (already strong) 5.2 per cent increase in finance to owner occupiers. And the value of those loan commitments to investors is up 54 per cent on March last year.

And the phoenix-like rise in housing investors has coincided with early signs of a peak in demand for finance by first home buyers whose participation in the housing market appears to be running out of steam. In March first home buyer finance fell by 3.1 per cent (seasonally adjusted), according to the ABS.

The levelling out of first home buyer demand was only ever a matter of time as this group would ultimately come up against the barrier of affordability.

Government assistance and low interest rates spurred demand from first home buyers last year but as prices have moved up the window of opportunity has narrowed. Meanwhile, some of the robust demand from those making their first move into property is thought to have been pulled forward.

Investors deserted the residential property market in response to COVID as rents and returns fell as did values in the early stages of the pandemic. The apartments segment was hit particularly hard as immigration disappeared.

While rents remain at historically low levels, there are clear signs that rental increases are starting to come through – particularly in the outer suburbs of capital cities, the smaller capitals and in regional areas. In March rents rose by 0.6 per cent in Sydney and by 0.2 per cent in Melbourne according to CoreLogic

But the broader enticement for investors is capital gains on offer in the housing market, which is now in full swing. Prices nationally rose by 1.8 per cent in April and by 2.8 per cent in March and careered ahead 6.8 per cent over the past three months.

For big banks lenders the return of the residential property investor could provide them a new source of demand growth in the event the first home owner market continues to run out of puff.

Despite historically low interest rates, the banks say they are not seeing any deterioration in the quality of their loan books. This is despite intense competition among bank and non-bank lenders to capitalise on the demand for housing finance driven by low rates.

Westpac’s accounts for the six months to March, which were released this week ,showed that only 2 per cent of customers were behind on repayments – a level that has remained the same for a year.

For the most part the banks are arguing that there is no need to apply any macroprudential brakes to the housing market.

But history tells us the rise in investor participation also sets off alarm bells within the regulatory agencies, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and the Reserve Bank.

Both have been disinclined so far to wade into the rapidly heating property market and introduce measures that will hamper first home owners. But regulators have plenty of form in targeting the more speculative investor cohort with macroprudential tools. And the banks will need to avoid the riskier lending that has traditionally been associated with financing investors.

’The resurgence in investor financing and the continuing surge in owner occupiers who are trading up points to further near term strength in home prices,” according to AMP chief economist Shane Oliver.

“It also points to a further acceleration in housing debt, a further rise in the share of interest only loans and increasing lending at high loan to valuation ratios. All of which is increasing pressure on the RBA and APRA to move to tighten lending standards in order to head off increasing risks of financial instability – which we expect to occur sometime in the next six months.”



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