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Councillors unite to support Affordable Housing Strategy

On the issue of affordable housing, we may have a united City of Sydney Council. In fact, on this occasion, the smaller parties are publicly speaking out in defence of the Council’s Draft Affordable Housing Policy as developers move against the public interest reports the South Sydney Herald of May 2009.

NSW Greens spokesperson on Housing, Sylvia Hale MLC, and Greens City of Sydney Councillors Chris Harris and Irene Doutney, have called on property developers to stop opposing more affordable housing in the City of Sydney.

“The Urban Taskforce, the lobby group representing property developers, is obviously worried about the City of Sydney’s quest to provide more affordable housing in Sydney. The Council’s excellent Draft Affordable Housing Strategy is currently on exhibition and the developers’ lobby doesn’t like it because the City of Sydney is proposing a four per cent affordable housing levy on new large residential projects,” said Ms Hale.

She was particularly critical of the role played by the Urban Taskforce. “The claim by the Urban Taskforce that the private sector is being ‘blocked’ from providing affordable housing is just ludicrous. Unlike developers in many overseas cities, Sydney developers represented by the Urban Taskforce have done all that they can to resist affordable housing schemes. They continually demand that levies and charges on new developments be reduced but then want to retain the right to sell at whatever price the market will bear,” Ms Hale said.

“The affordable housing levy is used successfully in many overseas cities in both Europe and the US. It will help maintain diversity and an available workforce in the city,” said Greens Councillor Irene Doutney.

Greens Councillor Chris Harris said: “The City of Sydney is going to do its bit as well. We are looking at all surplus Council-owned sites to see if we can include new affordable housing in any redevelopment. We have an exciting new housing project in partnership with the government on our Bay Street depot site in Glebe.”

Labor Party Councillor Meredith Burgmann told the SSH: “I certainly support the Council's affordable housing strategy and also call on developers not to put obstacles in its way. Developers have a false belief that their bottom line will be affected by affordable housing strategies but history has shown us that well thought out schemes can deliver high quality affordable housing and also keep developers happy.”

Independent Councillor Marcelle Hoff concludes that “there is an ongoing misconception that additional development costs, such as levies, are passed directly to the consumer. There are always more robust explanations for price movements as developers will maximise profits by charging the maximum sale price that the market will allow, irrespective of the introduction of a levy.”

Source: South Sydney Herald May 2009