Two of the most pressing problems for Australian cities are housing affordability and traffic congestion. But there is an approach to both problems that could lead to significant improvements at low cost and relatively quickly. It involves developing transit-oriented centres in conjunction with inclusionary zoning.
This form of development gives priority to housing affordability and low car use. It does so by requiring a certain proportion of permanently affordable housing and dwellings without car parking, but with strong access to local facilities. Travel is mainly by walking and public transport.
At the same time, introducing a special rate on land, similar to existing council rates based on land values, and eliminating stamp duty on property transactions would make the market more efficient, reduce budget impacts and support infrastructure provision.
These measures will in no way completely solve our problems. But they would help increase Australia’s supply of affordable housing and reduce road congestion.
Why is a two-pronged approach needed?
A transit-oriented centre is relatively dense and primarily residential, with limits on parking.
Inclusionary zoning would require the provision of transit-oriented housing and good local infrastructure. To make a transit-oriented lifestyle possible, centres would have a range of facilities, like supermarkets, chemists and medical and childcare centres. Since these are essential for the system’s success, they are part of the local infrastructure.
The underpinning idea is to reallocate private spending on car travel to housing and a special rate for infrastructure.
Currently, the average car-dependent household’s transport costs total roughly A$20,000 a year. On the presumption that the equivalent transit cost would be about $10,000, the saving would be $10,000. This would be enough to service debt of about $330,000 (at 3% real interest).
The point of this rough calculation is to suggest that travel cost savings could be used to significantly increase our capacity to fund infrastructure and make housing more affordable.
Martin Payne, Casual Lecturer in Planning, University of Sydney
Make housing affordable and cut road congestion all at once? Here’s a way (The Conversation)