Log in

Forgot your password?

Unpacking Housing Mix in the Waterloo South Planning Proposal

The housing mix materials for the consultation (website, information boards and brochure) explain housing mix based on the number of units or front doors prior to any of the possible 10% floorspace increase from design excellence. The planning proposal itself provides figures by both housing units and the proportion of residential gross floor area prior to uplift. As the average unit sizes of public and affordable housing is smaller than the private housing the proportion of the floor space allocated to social and affordable housing are lower percentages. Here REDWatch unpacks the housing mix figures.

How many dwellings might there be?

The planning proposal materials talk about the project delivering about 3012 dwellings the same as Council. In fact the DPE exhibited proposal is substantially bigger than Councils proposal. The Council proposal was the maximum number of units expected from the residential floor space it included the design excellence uplift. The DPE proposal however takes 3012 as the minimum and then allows up to 10% additional floor space for design excellence. This means that the likely outcome from the DPE planning proposal is between 3300 and 3400 and definitely not the 3012 dwellings DPE consultation publications state. DPE propose that as design excellence lifts the total number of units that social and affordable housing will remain the same percentage of the total floorspace.

Unit numbers (front doors) v residential floor space

The planning proposal proposes 28.2% of the front doors will be social housing but only 26.5% of the residential floor space. Each affordable home also will be smaller with 7.5% of front doors taking up 7% of the floor space. Together social and affordable housing will make up 35.7% of the front doors but only 33.5% of the floor space.

This contrasts with the Elizabeth Street development planning controls where a minimum of 30% residential floor space has been set for social and if LAHC wishes some affordable housing. This figure was argued on the basis of LAHC’s Communities Plus model of delivering a 30:70 split between social and private housing in their developments. Tenants over the years have questioned if 70:30 represented the number of units or the area and there has never been a clear answer from LAHC and even now we seem to have one approach on Elizabeth Street (floor area) and a different one in Waterloo (front doors).

One area of concern to tenants has been the low number of additional social housing units produced from the development. Currently there are 749 social housing units on the planning proposal site. The planning proposal proposes 847 social housing units from the development an increase of 98 units. If the development delivered 30% of the residential gross floor area as social housing there could be many more social housing units.

Unpacking the units numbers (front doors) in the planning proposal

One of the big benefits for LAHC is that they get 749 aged social housing units replaced by new lower maintenance social housing units as well as the 98 additional units. Unlike Elizabeth Street Redfern, Waterloo also gets 227 affordable housing units. Add in the 1,938 private units and you have an increase across the public housing land of 2263 housing units. All figures before the 10% uplift - so to get the likely outcome add 10% to these figures and the figures below.

So where did the final figures come from? If you exclude the affordable housing you have the development delivering 2785 units of which social housing is 847 (30.4%) and privatise housing units 1938 (69.5%). So at that level you have 30:70 on housing units or front doors.

For the affordable housing component, the department have used the upper end Greater Sydney Commission proposal that affordable housing should be 5-10% of uplift. The uplift from the Waterloo public housing site from the current 749 to the 3012 total number of units proposed is 2263 units, 10% of that uplift gives 226.3 units rounded up to 227!

So LAHC can argue on a front door basis they delivered 30:70 on social housing compared to private housing and DPE can argue they delivered 10% affordable housing on the uplift. When you put all the front units / doors together you get 28.2% social housing, 7.5% affordable housing and 64.3% private housing.

LAHC’s self-funding constraints

All of this is based on LAHC having a requirement from Government to self-fund and hence to sell off public housing land to achieve that. REDWatch and housing advocates have argued that the Government, both state and federal, should be investing in new public housing to meet the waiting list rather than just renewing stock and getting minimal increases at the expense of selling off public housing land.

The 30:70 formula did not take into account the need for affordable housing and selling off social housing land for affordable housing is also not a good use of social housing lands. There is a need for government investment and potentially we can look at some of the other housing mix models overseas that might deliver more social and affordable housing on government owned land.

There is still plenty of room for discussion about housing mix both in the planning proposal and for government long term funding rather than selling off public housing land.