Housing Diversity and Resilience
To many in the industry, the themes of housing diversity and resilience are not new and have been consistently presented across Government policy papers since 2016. Housing diversity acknowledges that household structures are changing across NSW with the rise of ‘single-parent’ and ‘couple with no children’ households and the emergence of multi-generational family units. Expect to see local housing controls in Local Environmental Plans (LEPs) and Development Control Plans (DCPs) continue to change in the years ahead as design thinking emerges with dynamic household structures. This is likely to present a raft of new opportunities for developers and hopefully unlock the true potential of the ‘missing middle’.
The discussion around housing resilience centres on improved quality of housing design and construction and avoiding the locating of new dwellings on lands with environmental constraints. As an extension of the Local Strategic Planning Statements and LEP reviews currently being undertaken by the 33 Council’s across Greater Sydney, expect to see an increased legislated focus on:
- Demonstrating energy and water efficiency in the design of new homes;
- Heightened attention on identifying riparian, sensitive biodiversity, bushfire, flooding and other environmentally constrained lands, and limitations on housing in these areas;
- Mandating design considerations for healthy and safe living;
- Greening - expansive rezoning of lands for parks and regional open space and other mechanisms to combat the urban heat island effect, particularly across Western Sydney; and
- Certification around design excellence and construction standards.
The paper presents a renewed focus around the housing affordability discussion. There is no surprise that more people in Greater Sydney are renting, with many experiencing rental stress – particularly during the current pandemic. Interestingly, both young people (under 30) and those over 55 have been impacted, with substantial drops in home ownership across both brackets and recorded increases in rental stress between 2011-2016.
The supply of social housing over the past two decades has not kept pace with the rate of demand. The number of people living in social housing has dropped since 2004, however, there are currently over 50,000 households on the wait list. Additionally, the rate of homelessness in NSW has increased by over 7,000 households between 2011 and 2016. The paper establishes actions to be developed for Government and Industry to do more in providing social housing and targeted support for combating supply for these most vulnerable communities.
The paper identifies that the Strategy should:
- Provide additional support for first home buyers – looking at the introduction of “rights of purchase” for first home-buyers in Government-led housing estates or other tenure models;
- Take a broader review and approach to addressing disadvantage for Indigenous communities under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Aboriginal Land) 2019;
- Ensure appropriate rights, responsibilities and choice for tenants under further reviews to the Residential Tenancies Act, 2010; and
- Look at other initiatives to address affordability including new housing models, financial concessions or lease arrangements such as Build to Rent.
Government is wanting a greater focus on providing more affordable housing, particularly social housing. Under the District Plans, new residential rezoning projects are to demonstrate provision of a minimum 5-10% affordable housing component. It is anticipated that with the renewed focus on affordability that private sector development proposals will be expected to work harder to meet Government’s objectives.
Summary and Next Steps
For those in the residential development and construction sectors the paper is worth the read. It clearly identifies Government’s current thinking around the future of housing in NSW, it’s challenges and suggested actions for improvement. The paper is on exhibition until 24 July 2020. Following this, DPIE will review community submissions and seek to finalise the strategy and initial action plans in early 2021.