Lots ‘n’ lots queued for council approval

NEW figures released by the Western Downs Regional Council reveal a gradual rate of approval for housing developments in Chinchilla and Miles.

In Chinchilla 57 lots have been given the nod in the past two months while 514 lots have been passed in Miles, including 366 lots on Hookswood and Pelham Roads on the north side of town.

Still queued for approval are 2458 lots, including 454 on Price St in Chinchilla and 696 on the Warrego Hwy in Miles.

WDRC spokesperson for planning, Councillor Ray Jamieson, said the absence of sufficient infrastructure is preventing development approval in some cases.

“Council’s position is to support the development of long term residential population and Council has a long term strategy to upgrade infrastructure over an extended period,” he said.

“For any development refusals, the outcome would be based on planning grounds and could involve staged developments to be in line with Council’s Infrastructure Development Program.”

Cr Jamieson said residential development over the next two years will depend on the development of current approvals.

“In each of the centres… there are approvals that have either not been delivered or developed and not released to the market,” he said.

“It is expected that those currently going through the approval process will be approved subject to conditions over the next period.”

Developers are urging that continued development approvals would ease rental market pressures and encourage permanent residency in the Western Downs, maximising the potential community benefits from the resource boom.

The region dominated a new report released by the Surat Basin Property Group last month that highlighted the top 20 rental yield areas across the state.

Miles topped the list with a return of 9.3%, while Chinchilla recorded 7.7%, Tara 7.3% and Dalby 6.5%.

http://www.suratbasin.com.au/news/thousands-lots-queued-council-approval/1886421/

CSG projects to intensify rental pressure: report

A property report commissioned by the Surat Basin Property Group has found Western Downs communities are under enormous rental pressure similar to Moranbah.

The report found acute shortage in the availability of residential accommodation in the area and the situation was going to get worse as coal seam gas projects increased, The Chronicle reported.

Surat Basin Property Group CEO Jason van Hooft said this was the most detailed report compiled on the Surat Basin housing market.

“We saw a huge gap in the data being produced in relation to growth figures in the Surat Basin,” van Hooft said.

“The problem has been planning. Some planning has been done which is just incorrect. The thinking and infrastructure needs are simply not there.

He said the Western Downs Regional Council has not allocated resources where it is needed.

“It is no secret the Western Downs Regional Council is struggling with a boom and their resources are being severely stretched.”

Van Hooft believes the focus should be on places like Miles, Chinchilla and Wandoan, not Dalby.

He said Miles and Wandoan were already facing acute shortages, with soaring prices as a result.

“A house was only recently rented out in Wandoan for $3000 per week,” he said.

“A four-bedroom house in Chinchilla is fetching $1000 per week. If nothing is done we will see immense pressures placed on these towns and communities similar to the cycle Moranbah is experiencing.”

The report was compiled by property advisory consultancy firm MacroPlan Dimasi. The findings were given at a Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise meeting in Chinchilla on Thursday night.

http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/csg-projects-to-intensify-rental-pressure-report

Buying can be cheaper than renting in mining towns

DESPITE an overall downturn in property prices, Moranbah and Dysart remain two of the top five suburbs in regional Queensland where buying a house is cheaper than renting.

Moranbah topped the list, followed by Blackwater in Fitzroy, Dysart, Miles on the Darling Downs and Kunda Park on the Sunshine Coast.

In August, the Daily Mercury reported that the median weekly rent for a house in Moranbah was $1900.

That price has since dropped to $1500, according to a report by RP Data.

The median weekly rent for a house in Dysart was $1400 in August and this price has also fallen – to $980.

In Australia, Queensland has the highest number of suburbs and towns where it’s cheaper to buy than rent – greater Brisbane accounts for 42 suburbs while the remaining 105 can be found in the regional areas of the state.

Based on principal and interest payments on a variable mortgage rate, the difference between buying and renting a house in Moranbah could save you $2859 a month, and $1253 in Dysart.

But they weren’t the only suburbs in the region where buying could be cheaper than renting.

Buying a unit at the Mackay Harbour could save you $565 a month compared to renting, while buying a unit in Blacks Beach could save you $413.

You could also save $309 on a house in Ooralea and $298 on a unit in East Mackay. Buying a house at Bakers Creek could save you $280 and buying a unit in Eimeo could save you $166.

According to RP Data national research director Tim Lawless, the Australian housing market experienced one of its toughest years during 2011 and the early months of 2012.

“In some suburbs it (buying) may actually be cheaper than renting, especially where we are seeing evidence of tight rental markets resulting in rental increases and lower home values,” Mr Lawless said.

Surat Basin Evolution

The population in the Surat Basin last year was 209,000 and it is tipped to rise to 301,000 by 2031 as Liquid Natural Gas (LNP) exports quadruple and Australia takes the mantle of the world’s largest gas exporter.

The regional towns of Dalby, Roma, Chinchilla, Roma, Miles, Injune and city of Toowoomba are poised to experience phenomenal growth as the planned energy resources projects come online.

Queensland’s resources industry workforce is forecast to increase by a total of 30,000 additional workers in the next five years and many of these will be employed in the Surat Basin.

The small regional towns with populations ranging from 1200 and up are set to explode as, unlike more remote resources sector hot spots where workers camps have sprung up, new workers will move with their  families to these established communities because of their location (relatively close to Brisbane)  and the lifestyle they provide.

Also differentiating the Surat Basin from some other resource rich centres which experience ups and downs based on coal demand and pricing the LNG industry is based on 20-year, long term agreements that are underpinned by the world’s desire for cleaner energy.

Apart from direct involvement in the LNG sector via employment there is also a significant wealth creation opportunity for savvy investors who can recognize the long term status of this sector and the demand that is starting to grow for accommodation in the Surat Basin.

The Surat Basin Property Group, headed by a group of Chinchilla locals, is spearheading the wave of new residential and industrial development that is currently underway in an attempt to keep up with the demand.

SBPG’s CEO Jason van Hooft said : “  We offer three things that astute investors want, low risk, good yields and strong growth.”

“The growth that is underway in this region is staggering and investors Australia wide have already recognised the opportunity and purchased quality residential and industrial property from us.

“The workforce in the Surat Basin was about 85,000 in 2009 and by 2016 it will have reached 110,000 and is headed for 158,000 by 2031.

“All  those people have to live somewhere and they all require goods and services which means that businesses have to gear up to cater for them. “ This is rolled gold for investors.”

Mr van Hooft said that the region’s reserves of coal, coal seam gas and liquid natural gas combined with the traditional economic base of agriculture guaranteed its economic future.

“Unlike places in remote Western Australia where the resources boom has seen massive workers’ camps spring up in the Surat we have active thriving small towns where people enjoy the lifestyle and where they have existing services and infrastructure,” he said.

“These towns are set to swell in size and as a result more city style services and facilities will become available. “When you see McDonalds and KFC target towns like Chinchilla you know that the word is getting out.”

SBPG has a limited number of tailored house and land investment packages currently available from a little over $400,000. Properties in the Surat basin rent for up to $1000 a week.

Early adopters to the Surat story have enjoyed 18.1 percent annual growth in values (in the 12 months up until June 2012) and yields of around eight percent. They are riding the biggest and most diverse resources boom in Australia’s history and it is showing no signs of abating.

There are more than 200 new projects across 13 different industries currently underway and demand for housing is far out stripping supply. You don’t have to be a resources sector or mining worker to capitalize on this phenomenon growth – you just have to seize the investment opportunity.

Surat set to step on the gas

A MAJOR demographic change is sweeping Queensland’s Surat Basin.

The towns in the region, such as Dalby (population 9800), Roma (8000), Chinchilla (3700), Miles (1200) and Injune (370), along with the far bigger Toowoomba (131,000), are poised to grow, fueled by energy and resources projects involving unprecedented investments and workforce movements.

Skills Queensland, in its report Surat Basin: Workforce Development Plan, estimates new projects in coal-seam gas (CSG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) will bring $30 billion in investments to develop export markets over the next 20 years.

“While the Surat Basin has traditionally been known for its agricultural production, significant reserves of coal and coal-seam gas have created a new energy and resources industry in the region,” the report says. “Over the coming years, the new CSG/LNG industry is expected to impact on the region and become one of the top five sectors of employment.”

The population in the region will grow from 209,000 last year to 301,000 in 2031, registering an increase of about 43 per cent, Queensland government projections show. The workforce in the Surat Basin will increase from about 85,000 in 2009 to 110,800 in 2016 and 158,000 in 2031.

“In part, this strong projected employment growth reflects significant mining, resources and construction work identified for the area, with the fastest-growing workforce being for the CSG/LNG industry,” the Skills Queensland report says.

Unlike in Western Australia, where resources-driven projects have given rise to the phenomenon of workers’ camps, the development in the Surat Basin is likely to lead to the transformation of small towns to larger communities, with the accompanying all-round growth in professional services that will contribute to an attractive lifestyle.

“The difference between the Surat Basin and other (resources-driven) regions is Surat already has active communities,” says Skills Queensland chief executive Rod Camm. “It is about building around that.”

Through “engagement, marketing and communication”, the stakeholders in the region’s development, including the local government councils and the companies involved in exploration and resources export industries, intend to highlight the liveability aspect of the communities.

“There is a saying out there, which is ‘Come for the job, stay for the lifestyle’,” says Skills Queensland general manager Neil Miller. “You don’t have liveable communities without the full range of occupations.”

Labour demand will be felt across a wide range of industries.

“Top occupations to be sourced for the key industries to 2016 include construction, distribution and production managers (130 extra workers each year); school teachers (120 additional workers each year); midwifery and nursing professionals (100 additional workers each year),” the Skills Queensland report says.

The forecast is for strong demand for energy and resources-related professionals such as drillers, miners, shot firers, truck drivers, earthmovers, trades workers; metal fitters and machinists in manufacturing; plant, equipment and machine operators, mechanical and electrical trade workers in construction; chefs (whose numbers will increase from 600 in 2006 to 1400 in 2031) and registered nurses. The Surat Basin, which already has low unemployment relative to the state (3.7 per cent in the region compared with 5.5 per cent in Queensland in 2010) is likely to experience the effects of strong competition for labour from elsewhere in the nation.

“It is expected that the Surat Basin will need to draw its potential labour supply from within the region, and from other regions, interstate and overseas to meet its needs for a highly skilled workforce,” the Skills Queensland report says.

“Businesses in the Surat Basin are experiencing recruitment difficulties, particularly because applicants lack the required skills and experience, or there are generally too few applicants.”

The task of acquiring the needed labour force faces major challenges, including an aging population, the tendency among those losing jobs to leave the region, school leavers seeking jobs or higher education outside the area and the low proportion of residents with post-school qualifications.

Camm believes new training models need to be adopted in order to fast-track the work readiness of those available to work.

“The slowdown in the resources sector combined with the slowdown in the housing sector will offer a tiny bit of breathing space to put the new training models in place,” he says.

Compelling facts on a growth area

THE Surat Basin comprises the local government areas of Toowoomba, Maranoa and Western Downs. Its population in 2009 was 203,790. This is expected to grow to 301,900 in 2031.

The total workforce in the region is set to grow from 85,791 in 2009 to 110,800 in 2016 and 158,000 in 2031, according to Skills Queensland’s report outlining workforce development plan for the region.

The region has one of our largest energy resources, with an estimated 20 per cent of Queensland’s coal reserves and 65 per cent of the state’s gas reserves.

The fastest-growing workforce will be the CSG-LNG industry, albeit coming off a low base.

Other growth areas in the next four years will be construction (7.6 per cent a year); electricity, gas, water and waste services (5.6 per cent); professional, scientific and technical services (6.2 per cent); and rental, hiring and real estate services (5.3 per cent).

The Surat Basin has unemployment levels of about 2 per cent. This includes Toowoomba’s unemployment of 4.2 per cent.

The Surat Basin labour force is likely to grow by 3.7 per cent a year over five years, requiring about 3600 new positions a year, says Skills Queensland.

Agriculture industry, a major employer in the region, will remain stable, economic projections to 2031 show.

Oil and gas sector workforce will increase from 290 in 2009 to 1400 in 2016 and 3000 in 2031. Coal mining employment will grow by 9.9 per cent annually over two decades.

“The Australian” October 02, 2012 12:01AM