Thursday, August 25, 2016

Brad Hazzard media release: Ivanhoe Estate + new Communities Plus sites

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Thursday, 25 August 2016


The first Communities Plus renewal project at Ivanhoe (Macquarie Park) has sparked strong interest from the private sector development industry and Community Housing Providers (CHPs), said Minister for Social Housing, Brad Hazzard.

“The three shortlisted organisations represent the top echelon of the private development sector and strong Community Housing Providers,” Mr Hazzard said.

“This is an extremely positive response to the Communities Plus program and shows how Government, the private sector and CHPs can be innovative and band together to deliver more housing and better social outcomes.”

The shortlisted groups are: Exemplar Living (Lend Lease) with St George Community Housing and Capella Capital; Frasers Property with Mission Australian Housing and Citta Property Group; and Stockland with Evolve Housing and Brookfield Multiplex Constructions.

The renewal project at Ivanhoe will boost social housing, more than doubling the current 259 social housing dwellings. The project will see 556 new social housing dwellings, at least 128 new affordable housing dwellings and some 1900 private dwellings on the eight hectare site.

The NSW Government has also announced that the second Communities Plus Neighbourhood Renewal package will be offered through an Expression of Interest to Community Housing Providers and small to medium sized private developers. These ten sites will deliver an estimated 790 new private, social and affordable homes into the high demand NSW housing market.

“These ten sites will provide a 300% increase from the current number of social housing dwellings and give residents modern new homes,” Mr Hazzard said.

Neighbourhood Renewal Release 2 involves sites in Corrimal, Wagga Wagga, St Marys, Padstow, Liverpool, South Granville (two sites), Warwick Farm, Parramatta North and Lane Cove.

Communities Plus is a $22 billion redevelopment of NSW Government owned social housing estates to deliver 23,000 new social housing dwellings and 40,500 private and affordable homes in integrated communities with better community outcomes.

Monday, August 22, 2016


Washington Park is seen as a good example of an integrated private/public housing precinct developed on government owned land.

From ‘We are Washington Park’ website

Stephen Cox writes: 'Architects are meeting the challenge to create social housing that looks and feels like modern private housing, with the key being to mix those subsidised dwellings with private housing.' Read more here.

Government spin, real-estate-talk or just good, old gooble-de-gook?

The last word comes from a Riverwood public housing tenant speaking at the Tenants Union's 40-year anniversary celebrations on 15 August 2016. Her point ... if they want to do away with the stigma of public housing estates, then why hive off the redeveloped part of the estate and give it a different name. Here the public housing estate is Riverwood? The developer proclaims: 'Not simply a new development but an entirely new suburb, Washington Park is situated ...' Read more here and view their spiel here.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Millers Point sell off continues

Nine more Millers Point properties have been listed for sale - you can read the full announcement here. Curiously, this announcement comes from Finance, Services and Innovation rather than FACS or anyone associated with the Social Housing portfolio.

The announcement says:
The nine Windmill Street properties each contain three bedrooms and will be sold via an Expressions of Interest process through McGrath Estate Agents that closes on 5 September 2016. 
Properties are 3, 7, 13, 17, 23, 31, 35, 41 and 45 Windmill Street. 
The new listings mark the commencement of a new stage in the Millers Point program which will see a different product mix, including a diverse range of lofts and other apartments, and blocks of units, listed on the market over the coming months.

The nine Windmill Street properties have been listed on McGrath's website for between $1.75 million and $2.3 million.

The media release states that the above properties will be sold under a neighbourhood scheme title structure, rather than Torrens title, to facilitate protection and management of the streetscape over time.

Numbers 15, 19, 21, 25, 27 and 29 Windmill Street already have been sold at auction. You can check these sales here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Sirius will not be listed on the NSW Heritage Register

After almost four decades serving as a public housing complex, the NSW government has confirmed that it is putting the harbour view apartment block in the path of a wrecking ball. Read the media release here and the story here.

Shaun Carter, president of the Institute of Architects and chairman of the Save Our Sirius Foundation, said the government's decision was disappointing. "Sirius is fundamentally bound in that aspect of Sydney, and with the greens ban movement," Mr Carter said. "It's embedded in the whole society, culture and understanding of the Rocks. This government is showing it can't understand what society values. It's just about a zero-sum game. [The decision] confirms that they understand value, but not much about the society it is in." He said the decision would have "a very real human toll" by forcing out long-time tenants of the public housing building. The government says the building is not fit for purpose. But it was designed for housing, operates as housing, is fit for tomorrow, and is perfectly fine for housing right now. Read more here.

You may read the response from a resident of Millers Point here.

The Sirius Building is expected to be sold to developers for $100 million plus. Read more here.

Read the Tenants' Union's reaction to this news on the Brown Couch here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Proposed 'State Significant Precinct' at Riverwood

Minister for Social Housing, Brad Hazzard, recently announced a $3.4billion renewal of Riverwood in Sydney's south east, that will draw on the apparent success of the Washington Park project of Riverwood North. The announcement is reflected in this article from 'The St George and Sutherland Shire Leader' - 1600 new social and affordable homes to be mixed with private housing at Riverwood.

Image from
The announcement says "The remaining 30.5 hectares of the Riverwood estate is being submitted as a State Significant Precinct (SSP), which will involve planning to identify all types of housing, community amenity, services and infrastructure needed for the local population."

State Significant Precinct's are a creature of planning law - specifically the State Environmental Planning Policy (State Specific Precincts) 2005. Determining an area to be a State Significant Precinct allows the NSW Government to override local government planning processes by either adjusting applicable Local Environmental Plans (as has happened with areas around Macquarie Park), or adjusting the SEPP to include zoning and planning controls within the document itself (as has happened with the Redfern-Waterloo area). More information about State Significant Precincts can be found in this document: here.

It is not clear which of the options will apply to the Riverwood site. However, in either case there is a process that needs to be followed and we understand this to be as good as underway. Responding to our enquiries, Minister Hazzard's office has confirmed that the Planning Minister has instructed the Department of Planning and Environment to provide the NSW Land and Housing Corporation - the Government entity that owns our public housing, and current owner of the Riverwood site - with an outline of what would be required to have the site considered a State Significant Precinct. The Land and Housing Corporation will then produce a submission, against which the matter will be considered. This will take some time, as it will involve a process of "consultation, design and planning".

It appears there will be opportunities for residents, the community and other stakeholders to have their say in the coming months. We can expect public exhibition of the resulting plans in the second quarter next year.

In the meantime, Minister Hazzard's announcement gives us a little more to go on. It says that “conservative estimates tell us we can get at least 1600 new social and affordable homes but there is a lot of planning and community consultation to do before we settle on final figures.” It also promises that "current residents in social housing will be able to continue to live in Riverwood, in the new housing. It will be two years before any resident will have to temporarily relocate to allow new building works to begin."

We can also expect involvement from the Community Housing sector in the renewal of Riverwood, and the management of any new social housing properties. SGCH, a Community Housing landlord that has worked with Government and the private sector on the Washington Park project, has noted Minister Hazzard's announcement in a recent newsletter (and a slightly reworded press release). CEO Scott Langford, said: “We very much look forward to having an input into the plans for the redevelopment and to seeing the next stage deliver housing that caters for the diverse needs of all people in our society.”

Monday, July 4, 2016

Affordable Housing at 'Lachlan's line', Macquarie Park

NSW Government developer UrbanGrowth has released details of its plans for Affordable Housing at 'Lachlan's line' - a major residential development in Macquarie Park, Northwest Sydney. Measuring 9 hectares, Lachlan's line sits between Epping Road and the M2 motorway, and adjacent North Ryde train station. The brownfield site was most recently owned by NSW Government agency RailCorp, and used to assist construction of the Epping to Chatswood train line. Once complete, the site is expected to house approximately 5000 residents in 2700 apartments, across 10 'super lots'. 

Above: Concept art of a completed Lachlan's line

On June 27 2016, UrbanGrowth announced that it is seeking expressions of interest from Community Housing providers - potentially in partnership with private developers - to purchase and develop one super lot as Affordable Housing for key workers. According to the associated information memorandum, this 2507 square metre lot is zoned R4 (high density residential), and has a concept design for 96 apartments, including the floor space bonus available under the NSW planning policy for Affordable Housing. Expressions of interest for CHPs and developers close on 29 July 2016, and UrbanGrowth will issue invitations to tender later this year. No timeline for the development of the Affordable Housing lot specifically is available. However, construction of residential towers at Lachlan's line generally is expected to commence in 2017, with residents moving in by 2019. 

Also announced on June 27 was an EOI and tender process for private developers concerning a further two super lots - of 6883 and 6745 square metres, also zoned for high density residential. Collectively, these are expected to house approximately 172 apartments. UrbanGrowth sold an additional super lot - the largest of the 10 - in late 2014. Shanghai developer Greenland purchased the 1.2-hectare site, zoned B4 (mixed use). According to The Australian Financial Review, Greenland intends to build up to 900 apartments on this land. There is nothing to suggest that any of these lots will include an Affordable or Social Housing component. 

Above: The Lachlan's line build site

Lachlan's line is the second major residential project in Macquarie Park being undertaken by UrbanGrowth - together with the redevelopment of the Ivanhoe Public Housing estate under the 'Communities Plus' program. TUNSW Clearing House has recorded details of the Ivanhoe project here, with an update here. The NSW Government has designated Macquarie Park and its surrounds a 'priority growth area'. 

Our response

Despite the flurry of news this week, Lachlan's line is not an especially new initiative. It was announced way back in September 2013, and the Government's vision for the site as a major residential development can be traced back at least as far as the sale of the mixed use lot in 2014. Until now, all evidence suggested the project would deliver its mammoth 2700 apartments for 5000 residents with a Social and Affordable Housing component of precisely zero; In other words, a rare and valuable opportunity spurned. According to National Shelter, rental housing in Macquarie Park and neighbouring suburbs is 'severely unaffordable' for low income households - meaning they pay over 38% of their income in rent on average. NSW Land and Housing Corporation's own initiatives and decade-long wait times in Northwest Sydney also reflect an urgent need for more Social Housing.

The news that one of the ten super lots comprising Lachlan's line has been set aside for the construction of Affordable Housing is therefore a considerable surprise, but certainly welcome. But it must be noted that the Affordable Housing lot is the smallest of the four to be put to market thus far. It is approximately 20% of the size of the Greenland lot, and one fifth smaller than the other two designated for private housing. In turn, the 96 Affordable Housing apartments will make up around 8% of the 1170 dwellings to be constructed across these four lots. Which is not insignificant in itself; But if the remaining lots are given to private development, that will mean that just 3.5% of all housing at Lachlan's line is Affordable. Moreover, there is still no indication that the project will include any Social Housing at all.

We therefore call on the Government to build on its good work. It should ensure that the remaining six lots at Lachlan's Line include a substantial Social and Affordable Housing component - thereby delivering a true mixed tenure development for the benefit of all of Northwest Sydney. 

Finally, the words of Planning Minister Rob Stokes, speaking to 7 news about Lachlan's line, have also given us pause for thought. He acknowledged there is "plenty of demand" for Affordable Housing throughout NSW, and noted, "We'll earmark a certain percentage in new developments such as this one for key workers - people like emergency service workers, nurses, and teachers". Again, we approve of the principle of including an Affordable Housing component in all major residential developments. We just hope the percentage the Minister has in mind is significantly higher than 3.5. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Affordable Housing project in Armidale

Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall has announced that Community Housing provider Homes North will develop a six-unit Affordable Housing complex in Armidale. According to The Northern Daily Leader, the project will be undertaken in conjunction with property developer Hibbards.

Above: a Community Housing development in Northwestern NSW

National Shelter's rental affordability index provides that the rental market in Armidale is 'relatively unaffordable' for low income households - meaning they pay over 30% of their income in rent on average. 

Although Homes North manages over 1000 Social and Affordable Housing properties in New England and Northwestern NSW, this represents its first foray into property development. According to Mr. Marshall's announcement, the NSW Government "has helped Homes North to increase its borrowings in order to supply more affordable housing". It is believed this was achieved via the transfer of Public Housing stock from NSW Land and Housing Corporation to Homes North. 

The 'Future Directions' plan for the Social Housing portfolio from 2016-2026 outlines an intent to transfer management and/or ownership of Public Housing to Community Housing providers, such that community providers own or manage 35% of all Social Housing in NSW.