Planning announcements – how do we ensure a fast track to excellent?

In NSW, there have been two significant announcements concerning housing and affordable housing supply. Overall, we are pleased to see the NSW Government moving to increase the supply of affordable housing, but remained concerned that the overall long-term value to the people of NSW may be compromised.
The first was proposed new planning rules to deliver more housing including affordable housing. It provides substantial incentives to private developers of large residential projects (capital investment of at least $75 million) which include at least 15% affordable housing in their plans (with the latter only required to be held for 15 years). These developments would gain access to a 30% floor space ratio boost, and a height bonus of 30% above existing local environment plans and would be able to access a fast tracked approval pathway.
For clarity, this is in addition to the NSW Government commitment to deliver a minimum of 30% social and affordable housing on surplus government land.
We want to see a fast-track to excellence delivered by a planning approach that builds public confidence in denser but more inclusive and more affordable communities. 
Shelter NSW is calling for major changes to this proposal to ensure that the people of NSW see a significant public return over the next 5, 10, 20 years and beyond, commensurate with the sizeable incentives that are being offered to private developers.
Changes we are calling for:

  •  15% affordable housing set as a floor not ceiling, why not a 20% requirement?
  • affordable housing needs to be in perpetuity (not 15 years), delivered by experienced Not-For-Profit Community Housing (not private developers as current regulations allow) – (see note below)
  • genuine and improved consultation and collaboration with local Councils
  • density incentives to be matched by requirements on developers for additional, high quality public green space around these very large buildings
  • a requirement for a design excellence competition for these big buildings to encourage iconic and innovative design that everyone can be proud of
  • date limits set for these approvals to combat land banking

(Note: while these recent announcements don’t technically rule out private developers from managing affordable housing within their developments, we understand that there is a preference from the NSW Government that developers partner with Community Housing Providers to play that role. We hope this preference translate into a regulated commitment)
Shelter NSW welcomes the second NSW Government set of planning reforms. These provide NSW Government-owned entities like the NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) and the Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) with an expanded fast-tracked approval pathway for projects with more than 75 homes or more than $30 million capital investment. This is designed to prioritise the delivery of social and affordable housing. Landcom will have access to the same pathway where any project it develops contains at least 50% affordable housing. While not a feature of the announcement we are calling on the Government to use the opportunity to build showcase quality social and affordable housing especially in in-fill environments.