The Mercury has asked all candidates who provided an email address to the electoral commission to answer the following question: what measures do you think councils should take to encourage the development of more affordable homes?
Those who responded prior to our deadline have their answers included below, listed in the order on the ballot.
Answers have not been edited.
John Mullan – Independent
I have a particular interest in affordable housing. I first arrived at Berkeley Hostel with so many other families from the UK and Europe. The desire for affordable housing was an undeniable priority common to all of us who were beginning a new life here in Australia. I left the hostel an grew up in a Housing Commission home in Lake Heights surrounded by neighbours from Macedonia, Holland, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Italy etc etc etc, and even,believe it or not, Australians lived on my street. I am happy to say that our original family home is occupied to this day by another big family. I drive by from time to time and my mother’s roses are still in the front garden.
I am grateful for the benefit Public Housing conferred on my family and I am proud of my past. I advocate that Council can and should influence affordability through changes to zoning; floor space ratios; it can essentially redefine what constitutes housing. Warehouses, old schools or tech colleges or other larger buildings could be converted to housing.
Housing is fundamental to a fair life for all of our citizens and I will play my part in Council through leadership, creativity and assistance in the provision of affordable housing. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights incorporates ‘housing’ amongst other standards of adequate living and our local government should uphold that basic human right.
GROUP A – LABOR
*Complete the Housing Strategy that was progressed at Council’s July 17 meeting.
*The Strategy should include ‘inclusionary zoning’, where a proportion of new development’s value is captured to fund affordable rentals administered by a community-based organisation.
*Lobby for Wollongong to be covered by the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP 70) - Affordable Housing.
*Council land, especially in West Dapto, used to provide high-quality affordable housing – to increase supply and as an example for the private sector. Shared ownership models (between residents and financiers) can be explored for this housing.
*Support State Government measures such as a non-occupancy tax and stamp duty concessions for retirees looking to downsize.
*Support negative gearing reforms at the Federal level.
GROUP B – GREENS
Council's planning powers can be overruled by developers in conjunction with the state government. The Greens have a proven history of keeping developers at bay. On council, Greens councillors will seek to ensure that planning and zoning powers are applied and that decisions are directed to maximising the availability of affordable housing.
We will also improve public transport, and develop active transport routes. One of the benefits of improving routes is that those who live in traditionally less sought after areas will get easier access to all the opportunities that Wollongong offers.
GROUP C – Independent
Gordon Bradbery (Mayoral candidate)
Affordable housing is a subject to the economic forces of supply, therefore Council has facilitated land being released for residential housing.
Council can also allow more medium density, what’s called the missing middle in housing developments. The issue of housing affordability is driven by low interest rates which has attracted more investors making use of negative gearing.
Wages are stagnating and are not increasing for lower and middle income earners.
The high cost of housing developments with the provision of infrastructure and the developers contribution being passed onto the market.
Council can make better use of housing design and configurations for increased density with a variety of housing styles, reduce cost pressures for developers and carefully monitor section 94 contributions.
Maintain any rate increases to bear minimum and push for more efficient operations and delivery of services by Council.
GROUP D – LIBERAL
GROUP D – LIBERAL
Our Jobs Action Plan will tackle housing affordability through the establishment of the Illawarra Development Corporation which will undertake an audit of public land across the region to identify underutilised public land that can be revitalised to deliver better development outcomes that will assist the Government with the delivery of affordable housing.
I will also lobby NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts to urge the state to introduce its Affordable Housing policy in Wollongong. Only available in Ultimo-Pyrmont and Green Square at present, SEPP 70 allows councils to compel developers to build affordable homes.