New home buyers in Nowra will settle for smaller backyards

The Australian dream of owning a home on a block of land large enough to host a game of backyard cricket in summer has fast-become a dream for many.

The average lot size in Australia is 474 square metres, but those wishing to build on soon to be released land in the Shoalhaven will have, on average, 350 square metres to play with.

Shoalhaven City Council plans to reduce its minimum lot size for subdivisions from 500 to 350 square metres, starting with the Moss Vale Road North Urban Release area.

Aware that the Shoalhaven’s in the midst of a building boom, in which there has been an unprecedented demand for property and higher than average number of development applications submitted, mayor Amanda Findley defended the proposal as a solution to the housing affordability crisis.

The minimum lot size in Shellharbour was reduced to 300 square metres before the development of Flinders and Blackbutt, developments Mayor Findley does not wish to emulate in the Shoalhaven.

“No one wants this to be the next Shellharbour," Mayor Findley said.

“We are at a critical point in the development history of our area.

“Some subdivisions have been approved in line with the older standards, but this looks to be the way of the future.”

Mayor Findley said the move is the better of two evils.

“Visitors come here because of the unspoiled environment,” she said.

“We are faced with the question, do we bulldoze more bushland for housing or open blocks with less land?”

Last week, Shoalhaven Councillors toured Kiama, Flinders, Nowra and Tullimbar, viewing affordable and high quality urban design projects courtesy of the Urban Development Institute of Australia.

“There is often a fear that smaller land parcels lead to inferior housing product, as part of this tour we have looked at what does and doesn’t work and recognised that the final outcome is much more dependent on good design, than actual lot size,” UDIA Shoalhaven spokesman Lawson Fredericks said.

“There is an enormous market demand for smaller housing product; there are people who can’t afford a large home on a large block of land and equally there are people who simply want a smaller home with less maintenance.

“As an industry, we need to be able to provide people with choice and a range of housing options across all price points.”