- The pandemic has led to greater demand for property in regional areas
- Diversification in regional areas is needed to create and sustain employment
- Long-term and high-value industries are also needed in regional areas
As we have previously reported on The Property Tribune, regional Australian property markets have been booming, thanks to a Covid-induced exodus from the capital cities.
Demographer Bernard Salt even coined the word for this trend – VESPAs (‘virus escapees seeking provincial Australia’).
In light of this, the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) has conducted new research to find out if this trend can also drive new economic activity in these centres, while potentially reducing urban congestion and housing affordability pressures in the capital cities.
“Our research revealed that successful regional areas across Australia shared a number of similarities,” said lead researcher Professor Nicole Gurran from the University of Sydney.
“They all benefited from being close to a larger state capital city, or, in the case of Albury-Wodonga, from being an important transport and logistics interchange on the NSW and Victoria border.
“In addition, they all have important regional service roles as administrative headquarters for local and sometimes state, services, and health, education, commercial, and retail services.”
The report noted that in all the regional cities examined, the largest industry sectors in terms of employment as health care and social assistance followed by either retail or education.
To attract and sustain employment and population in regional areas, the research highlighted the importance of transport, telecommunications and infrastructure.
This included high levels of government support through grants, decentralisation of agencies and investments in universities, hospitals and other major facilities, which help to diversify local economies.
“A clear message to emerge is that population and economic growth are not on their own sufficient to drive sustainable and balanced employment outcomes, and that ‘success’ should be measured more broadly, by also looking into liveability, environmental impacts and the social impacts of growth,” added Professor Gurran.
According to the report, none of the international cases were unambiguously successful, however, they offered several insights.
This included the importance of long-term regional planning and coordination with success building over time due to regional level targets for balanced housing and job development.
In terms of industries to identify, the report said it is important to select those that have long-term and high-value potential. Along with those not susceptible to automation.
“The shift to the regions could be the precursor to a rebalancing of Australia’s settlement and population growth; but it needs to be planned for.”
“With the current housing crises in the regions … [this is] something that needs to be worked through to ensure that the long-term benefits of a more balanced urban and regional settlement pattern can be sustained,” concluded Professor Gurran.