Affordable housing solution for Sydney is contained in Planning Department Policies: Chris Johnson

Affordable housing solution for Sydney is contained in Planning Department Policies: Chris Johnson
Affordable housing solution for Sydney is contained in Planning Department Policies: Chris Johnson


The solution to Sydney’s affordable housing problems is contained in the existing legislation and recommendations of the Affordable Housing Taskforce as outlined on the Department of Planning’s website.

The Affordable Housing Taskforce report to the Coalition Government in 2012 clearly stated that the private sector will not enter the affordable housing market without incentives (Action 5).

The Affordable Housing Taskforce report said ‘These incentives have been particularly attractive where the bonus represents significant value(Cl 4.12).

The Taskforce report supported the principle of the Affordable Rental Housing State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) as a good way to generate affordable housing.

The Urban Taskforce, representing property developers, has presented to the NSW Government a clear strategy to produce 40,000 affordable homes over a 10 year period by slightly changing the NSW Government’s current incentive in the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP.

The current Affordable Rental Housing SEPP is based on rental housing being for a period of 10 years through ‘a restriction on the occupation certificate against the title of the property’ (Cl17) and the Urban Taskforce proposal uses exactly the same definition.

Since the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP was introduced a relatively small number of affordable homes have been produced because the incentives have been too low. With a lifting in the incentives thousands of affordable housing homes can be built in metropolitan Sydney.

The Coalition Government’s Taskforce raised concerns that inclusionary zoning would only work where land value was high. Inclusionary zone policies have been shown to work most effectively in high value land locations and have limited application in lower cost markets.’ (Cl 4.14). The Urban Taskforce approach is an incentive that is adjusted to all suburbs irrespective of land value.

It seems that the approach now preferred by the Greater Sydney Commission is to force inclusionary zoning as a tax on new housing development. While this may work where land value is high, like Vaucluse, it is unlikely that the suburbs that really need affordable housing will benefit.

The Urban Taskforce is keen to work with the NSW Government to generate thousands of new affordable homes across Sydney. To simply force a new tax on the development industry in Sydney will act as a disincentive on the private sector to provide homes. By default it will be the NSW Government who will need to provide massive numbers of affordable homes.

Chris Johnson is chief executive officer of property development industry group Urban Taskforce and can be contacted here.

Housing Affordability Housing Value

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