Proposed reforms to planning controls could make affordable housing units more available to Illawarra residents.
Planning Minister Anthony Roberts recently released a proposal, on exhibition until December 19, to include all NSW councils in a planning policy that allows affordable housing levies, which had previously been limited to several Sydney councils.
“This approach has seen more than 700 affordable rental homes developed or in the pipeline, facilitated by the City of Sydney’s affordable housing scheme,” Mr Roberts told Fairfax Media.
“We want to make it easier for all councils in NSW to have the opportunity to develop affordable housing schemes like this.”
The policy, State Environmental Planning Policy No. 70 allows councils to nominate areas for rezoning. When developers take advantage of those rezonings, they would then be required to make contributions for affordable housing.
Those contributions could come in the form of homes directly created by developers, to be let to those on low to very-low incomes for below-market rent, or in the form of monetary contributions.
The state government says including all councils in SEPP 70 will remove red tape and assist councils to more easily progress affordable housing contribution schemes.
Planning Institute of Australia principal policy officer John Brockhoff said the proposed reforms to planning controls could make affordable housing units more available to residents in the Illawarra if councils opt in.
However, he said the affordable housing contributions planning measures would make a modest contribution when compared to investment in social housing and the role of the planning system in making more land for diverse housing available.
“Where there’s going to be upzoning in the future, some of that value can be used to create lower cost housing, and give access to the housing market to a wider range of people,” he said.
“Wherever there’s upzoning, there’s the possibility of using some of that value to provide more affordable housing where the development is feasible.
“What it’s about is enabling conditions of consent for new development to require a certain number of units (or a money contribution) for housing that’s available to low or moderate income earners.
“Typically, the affordable housing is delivered by a community housing provider, and they manage the units on a not-for-profit basis.”
He also said Illawarra councils would need to ensure they appreciated the local housing markets, and set the level of any affordable housing contribution to retain the viability of new development.
He said the same provisions couldn’t be used in parts of Sydney as in the Illawarra due to them having different housing markets.
Inclusion in SEPP 70 does not automatically mean that councils are able to levy developers to create affordable units. Councils will still have to nominate areas for rezoning in which the affordable housing scheme can apply.
To find out more about the proposal, click here.