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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 25 August 2010) . . Page.. 3873 ..

It is an extensive consultation process and I am sure that, through the committee that Ms Le Couteur sits on, there will be ample opportunity for these issues to be debated.

MS LE COUTEUR: A supplementary, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Le Couteur.

MS LE COUTEUR: Minister, what action is the government taking to facilitate the conversion of excess office space in Canberra into residential accommodation, which could help address Canberra’s housing shortage?

MR BARR: The government has, of course, taken a number of steps to improve access to student accommodation, most particularly working with the universities and a number of investment companies to ensure that there is more student accommodation. I can certainly signal today my intention to continue to take decisive action to ensure that there is more student accommodation available within the territory.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Hunter, a supplementary question?

MS HUNTER: Minister, given that the government’s unit titling laws effectively lock in unit title plans, how does the planning system accommodate new developments with flexible layouts that can change in configuration in order to meet demand?

MR BARR: Ms Hunter may well be aware of recent variations to the territory plan and recent changes to the planning and development system that provide much greater flexibility in this and many other areas. I do acknowledge, though, Mr Speaker, that getting perfect allocative efficiency in the housing market is quite a challenge.

I note that there is quite a concerted campaign being run against one-bedroom units through the Canberra Chronicle in recent times. We have seen quite a bit of commentary in the public arena in relation to that. Yet we all know that by 2025 the predominant household structure in the ACT—the largest group—will be single people.

Clearly, there is a mismatch in our current housing stock to our future housing needs. The government is taking a variety of steps to enable a market-based solution to address that. It is interesting, of course, in the context of some community debate at the moment that there does appear to be fierce resistance to an increase in the number of single-bedroom dwellings.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Bresnan?

MS BRESNAN: Minister, how have you ensured that the planning system facilitates local level environmental initiatives, such as the sharing of grey water and energy generation between different buildings not part of the same body corporate?

MR BARR: I thank Ms Bresnan for the question. Ms Bresnan would also be aware of a number of changes to the planning and development system that make it simpler,

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