Social Housing Renewal – are the people of NSW getting a good deal?

The NSW Government Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) has been very busy putting development proposals out for comment. As a result, we have also been busy responding to them! Generally, these proposed developments are in the City of Sydney local government area (Waterloo Metro Over Station Development; Explorer Street, Eveleigh and Cowper Street, Glebe).

Some of the proposals are renewals of existing social housing estates, others development of land for commercial and residential purposes. The one thing they all have in common though, is that the proposed development is on public land – and in some cases land that is currently used for the sole purpose of social housing.

Across all of the projects, we have queried: the compelling case for effectively gifting public land to private developers the fixation on the 70:30 public:private mix that has come to dominate the Communities Plus renewal projects (and why that ratio is so skewed against social housing; and why Affordable Housing isn’t part of the equation) the tendency to propose new estates dominated by studios, 1- and 2-bedroom units when we know the waiting list for larger dwellings is so high Overall, we’re concerned about the number of proposals (noting there are more LAHC projects proposed even within Glebe) and what feels like a piecemeal, site-by-site, building-by-building approach. Where is the strategy and co-ordination of proposed changes to these valuable public assets? 

And this is not just about planning and design – we’re concerned about the impact on current social housing residents, many of whom have already been relocated from other estates like Millers Point.
Having observed the progress and impact of a number of Communities Plus renewal projects, we are also highlighting in our submissions the critical need to actively engage and support community members, but especially current social housing residents in the design of their future homes and community.

We have and will continue to offer the Compact for Renewal as a template for how the NSW Government might best engage with the communities from the early contemplative stages right through to relocation and possible return.

Here’s a bit of detail and links to the proposals and links to our submissions.
Cowper Street, Glebe

Shelter NSW recently submitted comments on the redevelopment proposal for 17-31 Cowper Street and 2A-2D Wentworth Park Road (bounded by Wentworth Street, Cowper Street and Mitchell Land) – existing public housing sites. This project is being undertaken by NSW Land and Housing Corporation and is partly funded by the Prince’s Trust Australia.

According to the City of Sydney, the site currently includes 19 social housing residences. The proposed changes will enable development for 35 new social housing dwellings and buildings and 5 three-storey terraces fronting Mitchell Lane East and MJ Doherty Reserve. As part of the proposed redevelopment, social housing will be redeveloped and reinstated in the new development.
Image: the two specific sites being redeveloped at Cowper Street, Glebe
Our submission noted that the social housing dwellings in Cowper Street were only built in the 1980s (requiring a substantial investment of public funds at the time). By our estimates (noted in the submission) a private developer stands to gain quite a bit from this development for a net gain of just 16 social housing dwellings! 

To read Shelter’s submission go to: Cowper Street, Glebe Submission

For information about the proposal and its progress go to: City of Sydney Cowper Street Glebe proposal
Waterloo Metro Over Station Development

This is a proposal by LAHC to build a combination of commercial and retail spaces; private residential; social and affordable dwellings as well as a substantial number of student house rooms. The proposed three high-rise buildings would, as the name suggests, be over the new Waterloo Metro station scheduled to open in 2024.

Shelter NSW is not able to support the proposal as it stands. The proposed development is on public land. As such, we believe there is a significant requirement that the proposal makes a substantial and far greater contribution to increasing the stock of social and affordable housing (including that dedicated to Aboriginal people).

Our submission also recommends that any proposed student housing come with an affordability requirement. Take a quick look at the local commercial student housing sites and you’ll see that its entirely unaffordable for a large number of students (domestic and international). 
Image: NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
To read Shelter’s submission to LAHC go to: Waterloo-Metro-Quarter-OSD

To review the NSW Government’s proposed State Significant Development go to:  Sydney-Metro/Waterloo OSD proposal

Explorer Street and Aurora Place, Eveleigh

The NSW Government recently announced that it intends to develop the South Eveleigh social housing estate under its Communities Plus model.  The proposal would see the current estate of 46 dwellings (largely 3 – 4 bedrooms) demolished with 430 dwellings to be built (including 120 social housing). 
The proposed Explorer Street development is on NSW Government land currently used for the sole purposes of social housing. As such, we believe there is a significant requirement that the proposal makes a substantial and far greater contribution to increasing the stock of social and affordable housing (including that dedicated to Aboriginal people) – commensurate with the local need and the ability of Government to drive a better outcome in the broader public interest.
Shelter NSW CEO, John Engeler, on a site visit to Explorer Street where we spoke to some locals and noted some beautifully maintained gardens.
Of course, we noted the need for high-quality and genuine consultation with the current residents, some of whom have only recently relocated from Millers Point. We look forward to seeing how the NSW Government will respond to the community feedback it will have received about this project.
To read Shelter’s submission go to: Explorer Street, Eveleigh

To review the NSW Government’s proposal go to: Explorer Street, Eveleigh proposal