Thursday, March 31, 2016

No new Social, Affordable housing for North Eveleigh

NSW Government developer UrbanGrowth has announced plans for new housing in the 'Central to Eveleigh precinct' of inner Sydney. The project concerns the redevelopment of disused and vacant State land around the railway tracks to the southwest of Central Station - though it also takes in the larger Waterloo station redevelopment, and anticipates future works in Redfern

UrbanGrowth has announced that the renewal of the 'North Eveleigh' sub-precinct will primarily deliver "buildings between three and 20 storeys providing 600-700 new apartments with a total floor area of around 57,000 square metres providing homes for between 1,150 and 1,350 people"  - in addition to amenities such as a small park. 

But the project will deliver no Social or Affordable Housing.

Above: The 'Platform Apartments' development in North Eveleigh

The North Eveleigh sub-precinct is a 3.3 hectare site situated to the southwest of Redfern Station, between the Carriageworks site and Iverys Lane Newtown. Though comprised mostly of disused RailCorp land, it includes the 'Platform Apartments' development - consisting of 88 Affordable Housing units owned and managed by community housing provider City West housing. That development predates the Central to Eveleigh program, though a Sydney Morning Herald article provides that the NSW Government contributed the land and the cost of civil works. 

An UrbanGrowth spokesman told the Herald that, including The Platform, the North Eveleigh site will include 11-13% Affordable Housing once works are complete. A spokesman told ABC News that other Central to Eveleigh sub-precincts may deliver Social and Affordable Housing. 

Stakeholder responses

City West Housing CEO Janelle Goulding told the Herald the provider is "surprised to hear" the North Eveleight sub-precinct development will not deliver Affordable Housing. Ms. Goulding also said, "At the end of the day affordable housing is so needed it shouldn't even be a discussion point".

Jenny Leong MP's electoral district of Newtown includes the North Eveleigh site, and much of the wider Central to Eveleigh precinct. On March 26, Ms. Leong posted an update to her Facebook page concerning the announcement. It reads, in part: "...affordable housing is critical to success of urban renewal...Shameful stuff and such a lost opportunity for the NSW Government to follow the lead of other global cities by establishing provisions for ensuring affordable housing is at the heart of urban renewal". Ms. Leong was also co-signatory to a November 2015 submission to UrbanGrowth that calls for 30% Affordable Housing at the North Eveleigh site. Other signatories included local interest groups REDWatch, Friends of Erskineville, Alexandria Residents Action Group, and North Eveleigh Working Group. 

On March 26, Shadow Social Housing Minister Tania Mihailuk MP posted an update to her Facebook page concerning the announcement. It reads, in full: "Another backflip from this Government. Once again developers and investors are the winners and everybody else misses out". Ms. Mihailuk also told ABC News, "Clearly what the Government has already set aside there for its targets is not enough", and, "It's about this Government taking seriously the need to set social and affordable housing targets in each of their own developments". 

Homelessness NSW described the announcement on its Facebook page as "an unbelievable decision that needs reversing"

Our response

We share much the same concerns regarding North Eveleigh as for The Bays Precinct. The site represents a sizeable package of disused and vacant State land, in a region experiencing an acute shortage of Social and Affordable Housing. The NSW Government has also emphasised the need to increase inner Sydney's 'social mix'. 

Furthermore, North Eveleigh is situated in close proximity to the Waterloo site marked for redevelopment over the next 20 years. Approximately 2000 Public Housing tenants will be relocated over the life of that project. New Social Housing at North Eveleigh could have served as a site for temporary relocation, or a permanent new home, for some of the Waterloo tenants whose homes are marked for demolition.

The decision taken is therefore a missed opportunity in multiple respects. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Millers Point 2 years on - projected windfalls

The 2 year anniversary of the announced sale of public housing in Millers Point was observed on Saturday March 19th 2016.


Over the past two years, 323 of the 398 Millers Point properties earmarked for sale have been vacated.

58 of these properties have been sold for a total of $150million, with a median price of $2.4million. A further 13 properties are listed for auction for an expected $35.1million to $36.6million, with a median price range of $2.6million to $2.7million (see

The Government has deferred the sale of 28 properties, which it has set aside for some remaining residents. The Sirius Building comprises 79 units and it is expected that it will be sold as one. This leaves 221 properties still to be placed on the market, as well as the Sirius Building.

Some properties have been divided as flats or boarding houses in the past, but will be sold as single dwellings, so the number of properties left to be sold may be less than 221. Even so, if future sales continue to bring in expected prices, the NSW Government can expect to raise a further $570million or more from these properties.

The Sirius Building conservatively would raise $50million.

This means that, in total, the NSW Government can expect to reap more than $800million in today's dollars. This is a huge windfall, but it comes at a massive cost. It has reduced the "social-mix" within this iconic and historic inner-Sydney community. And to the former and current residents of the 398 affected properties, it is particularly harsh - especially the many older and long term residents of the area.

We understand that as of 20 March 2016 56 tenancies remain on foot, where the tenant has not been relocated, is not in the process of being relocated nor has been approved for one of the 28 properties in Millers Point set aside for remaining tenants.

So, just reflecting on that figure of $800+million...

If the NSW Government converted the Sirius Building to strata title, and then sold 39 of the 79 individual units (varying bedroom sizes) at an average of $1.5million each, they would still obtain their windfall of $800+million plus retain 40 of the units in the Sirius Building for social housing.

If they withdraw 20 of workers flats from the sale at an average of $1.5million each and 10 of the terraces at an average of $2.5 million each, they would still make a windfall in excess of $750million. This would retain a further 30 properties for social housing and also allow some of the older residents to remain in their existing dwellings and age-in-place.

Current conditions suggest the NSW Government could achieve $750million in sales, while retaining up to 70 dwellings to allow the remaining tenants to stay in Millers Point.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Telopea redevelopment overview

The NSW Government has announced a 'master plan' for the redevelopment of a large portion of Telopea, north of Parramatta, over the next 10-15 years. 

Public Housing is a prominent feature of Telopea. According to 2011 Census figures, Telopea contains 468 Public Housing dwellings, making up 20% of the suburb as a whole. 
An information sheet provided to Public Housing tenants by FACS Housing confirms that Public Housing tenants will be relocated for works completed under the scheme, without precisely indicating who will be moved or when. It states, "The first relocations will not take place until late-2017...", and "[Affected] tenants will have the opportunity to return to Telopea after redevelopment".

Above: the boundaries of the master plan area, taking in almost half of Telopea

Indeed it appears probable that redevelopment of Public Housing sites will be a major component of the project. Social Housing Minister Brad Hazzard's announcement says the project "will deliver an estimated $2.5 billion of new social, private and affordable housing and housing infrastructure"FACS Housing's Telopea Master Planning Team has provided that the Government will deliver estates with a mix of Social, Affordable and private market housing, in partnership with developers and the not-for-profit sector. And a Parramatta Advertiser report posits that such construction will comprise approximately 70% private dwellings and 30% Social Housing. This strongly resembles the Public Housing estate redevelopment strategy utilised in Communities Plus projects (as well as the preferred development style of the Social and Affordable Housing Fund)

However, it also appears that redevelopment may stretch beyond NSW Land & Housing Corporation sites. The tenant information sheet provides that "all land within this [master plan] area will be considered by the master plan, regardless of who owns the land".

Little beyond the boundaries of the precinct to be affected by the master plan appears to have been finalised. The Master Planning Team have said that the plan will continue to be developed through 2016, with local stakeholders invited to participate. 

Why Telopea?

The Telopea Master Planning Team has provided a dual rationale for development and implementation of the scheme. 

First, the Parramatta Light Rail Project will include construction of a northern line between Camellia and Carlingford. Whilst stations and their locations have not been set at this time, the line is expected to run through Telopea. Construction of the line will commence in 2018-19 and conclude by 2036. 

Second, the planning team has determined that current Public Housing stock in the suburb, "does not meet the needs of many of the tenants". It cites the age of the stock, inappropriate bedroom configurations, and a lack of circulation space in reaching this conclusion.* This position is strongly reminiscent of the position regarding under-occupancy of Social Housing expressed in the Future Directions strategy for development of the State portfolio as a whole. One of three strategies proposed to reduce under occupancy therein is the construction of "more smaller, fit for purpose dwellings to match the needs of new and future tenants"The Master Planning Team also notes that the cost to NSW Land & Housing Corporation of maintaining the stock is rising as the properties age.

Current redevelopment

The team provided that the pre-existing Communities Plus project for redevelopment of public housing sites at Moffats Drive and Sturt Street, Telopea, will "be taken into account" in the ongoing development of the Government's plan for the suburb. However, the master plan project has no direct relationship to the project or to Communities Plus in general. 

Our response

The announcement that Telopea is to be redeveloped appears broadly familiar to Communities Plus, though far less detailed at this stage. The bold red line denoting the boundaries of the 'master plan' encircles half the suburb, and evokes a sense of dramatic change. But the truth is that little beyond a general intention, to be realised over a period of decades, has been revealed. 

A community group operating in the Telopea area has confirmed that local tenants are scarcely better informed on the particulars of how the project is to proceed. This should be addressed as a matter of priority, with tenants informed and engaged at every step. Such an approach would minimise the rumours and feelings of uncertainty that such projects stimulate, as well as provide valuable local perspective to those overseeing the redevelopment.

One of the precious few details confirmed is that at least some, and possibly many, Public Housing tenants will be relocated. And in this regard we note the same concerns as apply to estate redevelopments across NSW. Relocations are inherently stressful for those losing their homes. The needs and interests of affected tenants should be prioritised throughout the process, and the right to return under the same conditions should be upheld for those that wish to do so.

Moreover, if NSW Land & Housing Corporation sites are to be demolished for mixed tenure communities, this ought to facilitate an increase in the total number of both Social and Affordable housing dwellings in Telopea. At present there is no guarantee that stock will be increased or even retained at present levels.

Will its close proximity to Parramatta, expanding rail connections, and high quantity of publicly owned land, it is not difficult to see why Telopea has been targeted for renewal. But any properly realised vision of the suburb as a modern part of the burgeoning "Capital of Western Sydney" needs to account for tenants both current and future. 

* We welcome feedback from Social Housing tenants on the suitability and condition of their homes, or any other redevelopment issues. Contact us at Your anonymity will be respected.

The Telopea Master Planning team are also available for contact on 1800 761 434 or