Modular construction set to play key role in addressing regional Australia’s housing crisis

The National Regional Housing Summit identifies modular construction as a potential pathway to addressing the affordability and supply constraints in Australia’s regional housing.

Addressing the escalating housing crisis in regional Australia, leaders from various sectors including local, state, and federal government, industry, peak bodies, and the not-for-profit sector gathered at Old Parliament House, Canberra, on February 9. (main pic: TR Homes Hamelin Bay modular home)

The National Regional Housing Summit, an effort led by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), the Real Estate Institute of Australia, and Master Builders Australia, with support from the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, the Australian Forest Products Association, and the National Farmers Federation hosted the Summit.

The Summit aims to tackle the pressing housing needs across regional Australia, amidst a societal shift towards regional living, a trend that has gained momentum over the last decade and was further amplified by the COVID pandemic.

Liz Ritchie, CEO of the RAI.
Liz Ritchie, CEO of the RAI.

Liz Ritchie, CEO of the RAI, stated, “We know housing is an economic enabler and the growth that we’ve seen in our housing market has been to the order of 54% in housing price growth in the last three years, which is starting to price people out.  So, we’ve now got regional Australia with an average house price of where our cities were sitting only just two years ago. We’ve also got record low vacancy rates hovering around that 1%. So, we know that the need is immense right now.”

These unique challenges regional areas face compared to metropolitan counterparts, further underscore the urgency for tailored solutions that reflect the diverse character of regional Australia.

This situation is also exacerbated by regional job growth and the pivotal role these areas are expected to play in the nation’s transition to net zero. Ritchie points out that the challenges are varied across different regions, necessitating a bespoke approach to each unique situation.

The Summit also explored various facets of the housing challenge, including home ownership, social and affordable housing, and rental availability.

Amidst the discussions, modular housing has emerged as a significant component of the solution to the housing crisis, and further aligns with the Summit’s focus on place-based, adaptable policies.

Ritchie’s Regionalisation Ambition 2032, a ten-year framework, aims to increase the regional rental vacancy rate to above 3% and ensure that annual building approvals keep pace with population growth.

See: Regional Australia Institute

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