A paper released by the NSW Government in relation to the tender process for Communities Plus has revealed new details about the scheme. The document, published on NSW e-tendering and entitled 'Expressions of Interest: First Six Sites of the Communities Plus Program', is intended for developers and community housing providers with an interest in participating in the scheme. It concerns the sites at Gosford, Warwick Farm, Glendale, Seven Hills, Telopea, and Tweed Heads. A standalone equivalent is expected to be released for the larger Macquarie Park site.Build characteristics
The Communities Plus Telopea site
The paper most comprehensively discusses build characteristics. It describes the project as consisting of "medium and high density" construction. At present, the Seven Hills, Telopea, and Warwick Farm blocks are zoned for high density residential, Glendale and Tweed Heads are zoned for medium density residential, whilst Gosford is designated mixed use. It is provided further that “The program is predominantly seeking one and two bedroom dwellings as social housing, with a preference for more two bedroom dwellings. A number of dual key dwellings could be attractive as they provide greater flexibility.”
Regarding the quality of residences to be delivered, the paper states that “as a minimum, the social housing will be required to meet the Silver Level of the Liveable Housing Design Guidelines as published by Liveable Housing Australia.” Liveable Housing Australia describes itself as a "not-for-profit partnership between community and consumer groups, government and the residential building industry". Its primary function is to "advocate the mainstream adoption of liveable housing design principles in all new homes..." - especially housing that "better respond[s] to the changing needs and abilities of people over their lifetime". It has not made its housing design guidelines publicly available.
The residences constructed will also incorporate energy efficient design features; “Passive environmental design, which maximise solar access, orientation and cross flow ventilation to reduce energy heating, cooling, lighting and clothes drying costs...will be a requirement”.
The paper also addresses anticipated commercial arrangements between LAHC, developers, and community housing providers - including the overarching commercial objectives of the project. LAHC will seek to optimise its commercial return for the land it contributes to the project, whilst adding to the overall supply of social housing and "seamlessly integrating" social, affordable, and private market housing.
The paper contemplates the manner in which the Government will dispose of and/or retain the sites earmarked for development in some detail. Although there will be no mandatory commercial structure, it outlines two "non-binding" arrangements. Under 'Contract for Sale of Land', LAHC would concurrently "offer a Contract for the Sale of Land to sell the site and a Contract for the Sale of Land to purchase the completed social housing dwellings.” Under 'Project Delivery Agreement (PDA)', "LAHC would retain ownership of the land until the project is completed and would appoint a Proponent to develop the site at the Proponent's cost. The proponent earns a return through a development fee equal to the proceeds of sale...[and] will be responsible for and accept all risk selling the private dwellings".
The affordable housing component of Communities Plus developments is also discussed. The Government anticipates that affordable residences will be owned or controlled by the developers, and managed by a registered community housing provider. Further, “it is not intended the value of land contributed by LAHC will fund the affordable housing component.” These residences will be managed according to Department of Family and Community Service guidelines as to what constitutes affordable rental housing.
The paper also notes that parties contracted to construct and manage the sites will not be able to draw on funding from other NSW Government housing initiatives, such as the Social and Affordable Housing Fund.