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You are here: Home / UrbanGrowth, SMDA & RWA Plans & Activities / Elizabeith Street SSDA / Bridge Housing wins on 600-660 Elizabeth Street and flips 70:30 model

Bridge Housing wins on 600-660 Elizabeth Street and flips 70:30 model

Bridge Housing and Capella Capital were announced on 23 January 2023 as the successful tenders of the Elizabeth Street public housing site which also included the PCYC. Below is how REDWatch unpacked the announcement in our email update. This post details the announcement, some history on the site and what has been learnt about to consortiums plans for the site.

Bridge Housing to develop 600-660 Elizabeth Street LAHC Redevelopment  Bridge Housing - successful pitch for 600-660 Elizabeth Street

On Monday 23rd January, Minister Anthony Roberts, responsible for Planning and Homes, announced that The NSW Government has appointed a consortium including one of Australia’s leading community housing providers, Bridge Housing, and national infrastructure developer Capella Capital, to deliver the $230 million renewal of Elizabeth Street, Redfern. 

The announcement was dropped initially to the Sydney Morning Herald, which ran the story Hundreds of apartments to transform empty block opposite Redfern Oval and was followed by a later ministerial media release Innovative Partnerships see Inner City Housing Boom.  

The actual commercial details between the successful bidder and LAHC remain Commercial in Confidence. LAHC forbids tenders from talking to local organisations during the selection process under its confidentiality agreement, so it is only after the announcement that information starts to become available from the successful consortium. Bridge, in partnership with Frasers, is one of the four shortlisted development consortiums still in the selection process for the Waterloo South and Estate development so it is still bound by the confidentiality agreement relating to that LAHC redevelopment. 

The media statements says the Redfern Redevelopment is expected to commence in 2025 and be complete in 2028. The 100 social housing units on the Redfern site, along with 70 social housing units from the Waterloo Metro site have been promoted by LAHC as places that will be used for relocations from Waterloo South during its construction. The first Waterloo South relocations are scheduled to start in 2024. Waterloo South residents now know that their new landlord will be Bridge Housing if they get relocated after 2028 to the 600-660 Elizabeth Street redevelopment.  

The government announcement contained little detail of the successful proposal other than the project would be around 300 units and that LAHC would receive the 100 social housing units it wanted from the site. In the media statement Natasha Maclaren-Jones said “in addition to more than 100 social homes, the project proposes a mix of housing including affordable homes, homes for key workers, disability support units and private homes.”

The 600-660 Elizabeth Street site was part of a larger site covering 106 public housing units, master planned for a public-private partnership redevelopment and approved by South Sydney Council in 2002, but a developer partner could not be found. In the end the NSW government sought approval in 2007 to build the public portion of 106 public housing units between Walker and Morehead Street itself, which were completed in 2010. The Elizabeth St, Phillip St, Walker St, Kettle St site had approval under the 2007 plan for 158 private apartments.

The original walk-ups on the Elizabeth Street site remained fenced off until 2013 when, after a campaign to formalise homeless people sleeping in them failed, the housing was knocked down. The site sat vacant since as demand for public housing increased. Only the PCYC remained opposite Redfern Oval after turning down a government funding offer to move to the NCIE. 

The site was a focus for protests against government housing inaction and the sale of government owned land to fund new housing rather than government funding new social housing on land it already owned.


Under Communities Plus, LAHC proposed its first Build to Rent redevelopment for the site, but when it became obvious it could not get the high densities it required LAHC reverted to its standard Build-to-Sell model where around 30% of the site would be new social housing paid for by selling the rest of the land to a developer for private housing.  

While LAHC put a plan to the City of Sydney for up-zoning on the site, the Council developed its own lower scale proposal for the planning controls and also pushed for the site to deliver affordable housing, as well as social housing. LAHC pushed back on the affordable housing arguing that it had a mandate to deliver social housing and had a broader mandate which allowed it to extract a return from the site so it could be used in other parts of the state.  

The site, like public housing redevelopment sites in Waterloo, Eveleigh and Glebe, has more recently attracted protests against the government’s self-funding Communities Plus model which sell off 70% of the site to a developer to pay for the delivery of new social housing on the remainder of the site. The response from local Newtown MP Jenny Leong reflects these concerns – see her media release Redevelopment of Elizabeth Street, Redfern will be a sell off of public land for private profit - Jenny Leong Response. This was picked up in the City Hub’s Leong calls for Redfern development to retain 100% public housing

The site also was a focus for the Redfern-Waterloo Aboriginal Affordable Housing Campaign’s ask for 10% Aboriginal Social and Affordable Housing on the development of all government controlled land in the Redfern Waterloo area. Warren Roberts from the campaign was on 702 radio pushing that campaign’s claim on 25 January 2023. 

While the Elizabeth Street redevelopment announcement does see public housing land sold off, the outcome is not the usual Community Housing Provider manages the social housing for LAHC and the developer sells off the rest of the units to private owners. Campaigners may yet get a lot of what they have argued for. 

Bridge Housing flips NSW 30:70 model in Redfern Development 

Now that the announcement is out it is possible to also see what Bridge Housing has said it wants to do. The site has reasonably tight planning controls so the final outcome will not be determined until the DA stage when the final building designs and layouts are submitted, but in the past LAHC has talked about 300 units on the site, but Bridge thinks it can get over 300. 

The first surprise about this announcement is that Bridge Housing is the development lead for the redevelopment, not just a CHP that will run the LAHC owned affordable housing. This is the first time a CHP has been appointed to lead a Communities Plus project. It is a model that was used by the Aboriginal Housing Company for the Pemulwuy Project on The Block. 

Being the developer means that Bridge can choose to use its developer margin to deliver affordable housing it will own on the site. Bridge says “all our profits must be used to deliver more affordable housing and better services”. Bridge estimates that it will be able to provide 39-40 units of low to medium income affordable housing on the site it owns. Bridge has also said that it plans to relocate its headquarters to Redfern once the project is complete. The Bridge office was in the old TNT Towers prior to their redevelopment. 

Bridge Housing’s consortium partner is Capella Capital, a leading infrastructure advisor. Bridge has also said that Hickory will be the builder and local employment opportunities will be created. We know nothing about how the redevelopment will be financed other than a general statement by Bridge CEO Rebecca Pinkstone that the “development will become a blueprint for how the community housing sector, working in partnership with government, institutional investors, commercial lenders and the private sector, can deliver social and affordable housing at scale”. 

The next surprise is that Bridge is only proposing 100 market homes rather than the expected 200 in the LAHC plan. Some of the private housing will be replaced by the 40 homes Bridge will build and retain ownership of, but it is also saying there will be 80 affordable homes for key workers and 11 specialist disability homes.  

Given the Bridge model, it might still be possible, if Federal Government funding for Affordable Housing was to become available that the site could still end up a mix of social and affordable housing of different types. Such an outcome would further strengthen the argument that government itself should be able to do such developments while retaining government land. 

In its fact sheet, Bridge has said that “10% of all of Bridge Housing’s allocation of homes will be dedicated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tenants”. This will go some way towards the outcomes sort by the Aboriginal Affordable Housing Campaign even if they are also aiming for Aboriginal housing to be run by or in collaboration with Aboriginal organisations. Bridge has however given a “commitment to engagement with First Nations communities to find opportunities for involvement in the further development of the project” so that element of the Aboriginal Affordable Housing ask may not be off the table either.  

It is not clear from the Bridge statement about what is happening with PCYC, the fact sheet says the project will deliver “3,500 m2 of community space as a hub for local services, potentially including the PCYC subject to funding, and Bridge Housing’s new head office with community meeting space”. 

So while all this is subject to the final DA, it is looking a lot better than many in the community feared after dealing with LAHC. Bridge Housing say it looks forward to working with stakeholders in the coming year as it prepare the DA for submission. If you would like further information you can email Bridge Housing on redfernplace@bridgehousing.org.au or visit our website www.bridgehousing.org.au

On the REDWatch website you can find the Bridge Housing Fact Sheet on Elizabeth Street, Redfern Redevelopment and the text of the initial website Bridge Statement on Redfern Estate. You can also see one of the Bridge graphics released by LAHC on the REDWatch website under Bridge Housing - successful pitch for 600-660 Elizabeth Street

For more information visit Bridge Housing’s Redfern Estate Page and the Elizabeth Street Tab on the REDWatch website.

Media see - Bridge Housing wins on 600-660 Elizabeth Street