Things have progressed so poorly since then that The Property Council of Australia recently suggested that there is a chronic housing shortage in the region. As a result, there are concerns that the regions house prices will continue to rise and the rental market tighten even further.
So why is this happening?
Newcastle (the Hunter’s biggest hub) is becoming increasingly popular with Sydney families who are being driven from the state capital by inflating house prices.
The return of students to the local universities has squeezed rental vacancy rates in popular rental suburbs around the University of Newcastle such as Jesmond, Wallsend and Hamilton North. In other areas such as Singleton-Branxton, the mining and construction boom and the influx of workers have also contributed to the shortage.
Last month, however, NSW planning director Andrew Jackson said that infrastructure was the main reason behind the Hunter’s housing shortage.
“We simply have too few new dwellings being created to accommodate the demand for housing. In our economy the level of housing is mostly driven by supply and demand and partly by government policy and interventions. If demand exceeds supply, prices rise.”
“Rising housing prices means more people opt to rent and so rents rise with the result that working families struggle to make ends meet and more disadvantaged members of our community don’t even get a look in.”
The Property Council have suggested the State Government reduces red tape so developers are encouraged to invest in the Hunter.
“The current strategy has really fallen well short of targets, particularly in terms of homes,” says the Council’s Regional Hunter Director, Andrew Fletcher.
“The only way we can really improve the situation is by cutting red tape and making investment easier, matching infrastructure and housing to where people want to live.”