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REDWatch UrbanGrowth Central to Eveleigh and Housing Diversity Policy Statement - May 2016

The REDWatch UrbanGrowth Central to Eveleigh and Housing Diversity Policy was finalised on May 2 2016 following indications that UrbanGrowth's Central to Eveleigh Urban Transformation Strategy would not propose a significant response to the areas affordable housing needs. These concerns were borne out in late November 2016 when UrbanGrowth unveiled their strategy which showed only a target of 5-10% on the government owned Central to Eveleigh land.

REDWatch UrbanGrowth Central to Eveleigh and Housing Diversity Policy

 Setting high targets for Affordable Housing on government owned land and setting inclusionary zoning creating Affordable Housing from a zoning uplift on private land are major mechanisms internationally for suppling Affordable Housing. Parts of London require developments to deliver 50% affordable housing through a range of options.

Without capturing funds for permanent Affordable Housing, NSW is selling off public lands, redeveloping government lands and changing planning controls to encourage high rise development. This means that not only is Affordable Housing not being delivered now but also that there will be less land for future Governments to leverage for Affordable Housing.

Programmes such as Central to Eveleigh are being repeated around Sydney and NSW in places like the Bays Precinct, Parramatta and Newcastle. Up zoning of land is occurring around transport corridors for growth precincts such as Parramatta Road, Anzac Parade and Sydenham to Bankstown; all without delivering significant Affordable Housing.

This has led to calls for a moratorium on government land sales and housing redevelopment that do not also generate significant affordable housing. In REDWatch’s area, this issue arises for UrbanGrowth’s Central to Eveleigh.

Currently the Affordable Housing contribution plan for most of the Central to Eveleigh corridor contributes a miserly 1.25% of floor space for affordable housing – that would fund only 10 affordable units from the developer of the 700 units at North Eveleigh! Ironically this 1.25% is much better than most of Sydney and some of the Central to Eveleigh corridor where there is no mechanism at all for new Affordable Housing.

The affordable housing fund currently has about $32m unspent. Most of this money came from Fraser’s Central Park which under 2004 Legislation had to pay its affordable housing levy for Redfern Waterloo.

UrbanGrowth say North Eveleigh will achieve 11-13% affordable housing. This is only because 88 units already exist on the site. UrbanGrowth’s predecessor received National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS) federal funding to build the access road on the understanding it would make land available for Affordable Housing. City West were reported (SMH 25/3/16) as covering the entire $26m construction cost.

The City of Sydney Council LGA target is 7.5% Social and 7.5% Affordable Housing. To meet these targets, given the LGA’s heritage conservation areas, new developments have to significantly exceed the combined 15% target.

For the NSW Land and Housing Corporation land at Waterloo, the NSW Government expects to deliver a combined public housing equivalent Social and Affordable Housing target of 30%. Government land on Central to Eveleigh could deliver the same as Waterloo and still pay for the parks and community facilities any such development needs. That alone could be up to 148 more affordable homes at North Eveleigh.

At a recent Central to Eveleigh consultation UrbanGrowth indicated that its Urban Transformation Strategy (UTS) to be released mid-year will propose a target of 5% to 10% - higher than the current 1.25% but lower that the 11-13% from the existing 88 units at North Eveleigh and much lower than the 30% proposed for the Waterloo public housing estate.

The low Affordable Housing target at Eveleigh compared to Waterloo is because government is redirecting profit from the Eveleigh sale to pay for state level infrastructure like an upgrade of Redfern Station rather than prioritising public housing equivalent social and affordable housing as it is at Waterloo. The land mass being resumed for construction of the Metro Station at Waterloo is also being sold post station construction with significant Up zoning and associated ‘profit’ for the government.

REDWatch understands UrbanGrowth is considering an affordable purchase mechanism. REDWatch has major concerns about Affordable Housing schemes that define affordability as a discount, often 20%, off market rents or purchase. Twenty percent discounts on market rents or purchase in Sydney remains unaffordable to those most impacted - low income people needing to live in most parts of the city.

REDWatch is also concerned about schemes that only provide “affordable” stock for a limited period of time and then see that stock sold without a contribution from the sale going towards further affordable housing stock.

In light of all of the above REDWatch:

1) Affirms: REDWatch’s long held position that proceeds from the sale of government owned land should not be diverted to NSW Treasury or used to fund state level infrastructure delivery.

2) Resolves that: REDWatch adopts a position in support of, and campaigns for, public, social and “low family income” affordable rental housing delivery in the Central to Eveleigh and other developments projects in line with international community best practice.

3) Resolves that: REDWatch supports ongoing affordable rental housing mechanisms based on capacity to pay rather than discounted market rates.

4) Resolves that : REDWatch supports long term income based rental housing mechanisms providing for low income individuals and families. These might be delivered through Government owned or subsidised housing, Community Land Trusts, Co-operatives or by registered Community Housing providers.

5) Resolves that: REDWatch supports the application of Inclusionary Zoning Principles to all land sold by the government for residential usage

6) Resolves that: REDWatch also supports Inclusionary Zoning being applied to any uplift in value resulting from re-zoning of private land.

This policy does not preclude REDWatch commenting, as it has in the past, on a broad range of other issues of concern in UrbanGrowth projects but it aims to define REDWatch’s affordable housing response.