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Sabina To Develop “Eco-Lifestyle Village” Delivering Affordable “Build-to-Rent” Properties on 56-Acre Site at Howard, Queensland 

The Chairman of the Sabina Group, Mr Peter Chen, announced that through the group’s consultancy arm, G8 Consultants Pty Ltd, they have taken up the challenge to design and develop a uniquely master-planned residential estate on a 56-acre site at Howard; about 30km (26 minutes) by car west of Hervey Bay – the whale watching capital of the world. Earlier this year, G8 Consultants were named in the 2018 APAC Excellence Awards as the Leading Expert in Property Development.

The unique “Eco Lifestyle Village” development is designed for a mixed-age community of about 200 residents, but it expected to be predominantly retirees and youth aged between 18 to 25 years old. Developers in Europe and the USA have already diversified into the build-to-rent residential market, which is also known as the multifamily housing concept, with yields on capital usually around 4.5%. By all regards, the build-to-rent industry is thriving in these regions but is virtually non-existent in Australia. Sabina believes that this sector will undergo a “supply and demand” testing period, depending on government involvement. Property data has shown that house prices in Sydney and Melbourne have doubled since the global financial crisis in 2009, with prices now outside the reach of many Australians.

As a result, there is now a whole generation of lifetime renters that is about to emerge. Indeed, research has revealed that a third of Australian households rent and more than 40% of those have been in the rental market for more than 10 years, says a recent survey by Choice, the National Association of Tenants’ Organization and National Shelter.

Traditionally, developers and investors have been unwilling to enter the rental market because of weak returns compared to other asset classes such as commercial property. However, this sector can change easily if Federal and/or State Governments decide to offer incentives by way of tax concessions and subsidies; or by Local Authorities relaxing the development conditions required on planning schemes and infrastructure contributions.

Mr. Chen takes a moment to emphasise the importance of authoritative support. “We have designed a build-to-rent residential package for the Howard site that would show a net yield of around 8% on capital investment. This is almost double the current average yield normally available in this sector of the industry. However, this would only be possible if we are able to secure the support of the local authorities to allow the site’s rural zone in the planning scheme to be relaxed for this new innovative concept. The proposed community development is unique and important as it addresses three key fundamental issues – sustainable development, food production, and employment generation.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has already thrown his support behind the long-term rental sector in Australia. “Progress must be made boosting and diversifying supply of rental stock”, he said in a speech to the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute in Melbourne in April 2017.

In regional areas such as Fraser Coast, there is not only a dire need to solve the housing problem, but also the urgent need of addressing the high rate of unemployment; especially amongst young people, which is currently growing in excess of 26%. All sectors of government, officials, politicians, councillors, developers, consultants, and business leaders must share this social responsibility and take urgent respective actions to help correct the crisis.

Renters on the Fraser Coast are struggling to keep roofs over their heads. Worrying data reveals Fraser Cost is one of the toughest places to live as a renter, with high unemployment taking its toll on vulnerable households. Fraser Coast’s high rates of unemployment, disability and low education are contributing to rental stress even though the median rental prices are considerably less than those in Brisbane. In Hervey Bay it has been found that 40.7% of renters are experiencing rental stress. However, rent is only part of the problem.

G8 Consultants Pty Ltd has developed a unique scheme where its community operating structure is different from the normal intervention strategies that have traditionally fallen into five program categories: school, government, industry, community, and generic economic schemes.

To achieve a sustainable and viable development, the raw land cost has been secured at a low price and building material selected by G8 Consultants Pty Ltd is in the form of a special prefab modular system where the wall and roof panels are structural and insulated and can easily be assembled without crane equipment. Each module is about 30m2 in floor area and can be erected in four hours on a pre-prepared foundation platform.

“Our unique scheme incorporates the aforementioned three key underlying principles of sustainable development, food production, and employment generation. However, these key principles also work under an overall philosophy that advocates: i) better utilisation of resources; ii) promotion of cottage enterprises; and iii) self-esteem discipline”, explained Mr. Chen.

He continued: “The village residents would also benefit from special features such as a green energy grid, organic waste recycling, car-sharing, labour exchange, casual job opportunities, bulk buying discounts, security, value-adding processes, craft workshops, and community friendship. With the support of the government authorities, we hope that the success of “Eco Lifestyle Village” at Howard would be a positive demonstration towards promoting an innovative social solution to the housing and employment problems facing Australia”.

Mr. Peter Chen has over 40 years of experience in the property development industry in Australia. He is currently the Chairman of the Sabina Group and was a former Vice-President of the Queensland Division of the Housing Industry Association, Member of the Valuers Registration Board of Queensland, Member of the Queensland University of Technology, and President of Australian Chinese Chamber of Commerce (Gold Coast).


Contact: Mr Peter Chen
Company: Sabina Corporation
Address: 34 Hinchcliffe Dr, Kooralbyn, Queensland, Australia
Web Address: www. sabina.com.au
Telephone: 617 5544 6698