South Australia could “run out of land” within 30 years unless drastic changes are made to meet housing demands, a landmark report has found.
Greater Adelaide needs another 300,000 homes to meet demand by 2050 and there is one rising demographic driving the crisis: single-person households.
The Greater Adelaide Regional Plan, which sketches a vision for sustainable development across South Australia’s population core, credits single-person households as the main reason housing demand now outstrips population growth, with the cohort increasing 78 per cent in the past 30 years.
“If this trend continues, we will need an extra 300,000 homes over the next 30 years,” the report claims.
The discussion paper identifies while there is enough land for an additional 200,000 homes, the state will run out of land within 30 years without an “ongoing rezoning program”.
Australian National University demographer Dr Bernard Baffour says young Australians are driving the shift towards single-person households.
“There is delayed marriage and partnership formation,” he said.
“Changing relationship dynamics, higher divorce rates, and economic factors might be playing into that as well.
“Career and educational pursuits, particularly in terms of women, are driving those changes as well.”
Dr Baffour said about 25 per cent of Australia’s population currently fell into the single-person household category.
South Australia Housing Minister Nick Champion said the impact of changing household formations would inform government decision-making moving forward.
“We recognise the pressure this shift has on housing supply and want South Australians to have their say on how it can be addressed,” he said.
“Providing diversity and choice for families is vital amid evolving societal change and the community feedback received through the discussion paper will help ensure those needs are met for future generations.”
Detached dwellings make up 75 per cent of housing in Greater Adelaide and the plan identifies more diverse housing options, particularly a “missing middle” option between detached housing on large blocks of land and multi-level apartment buildings, as a pathway to consider.
“Census data reveals that the ongoing trend for detached dwellings, typically with three or more bedrooms, does not necessarily match the needs of increasing numbers of smaller households,” the plan states.
“We need to encourage a broader range of dwelling types and dwelling sizes.
“Addressing the Missing Middle means providing more affordable housing choices in inner metro areas – that is more townhouses and multi-unit dwellings that cater for first home buyers, young families and downsizers.”
In 2014, the government introduced a grant to encourage seniors to downsize, though Mr Champion said the uptake had been low.
“Our current focus is on helping those who haven’t been able to buy a house to take that step and get a foot on the property ladder,” he said.
The 2023-24 budget boasted a $474.7m package to encourage housing development and affordability, including the release of 25,000 new blocks of residential land across Adelaide’s northern and southern suburbs.
The plan also assesses potential growth in satellite cities around Adelaide and how infill areas can expand housing supply.
The public consultation period on the plan runs until November 6.