Government housing decision slammed

The NSW government has been slammed for its decision to suspend all planning proposals in two Sydney council districts.

On Wednesday, NSW planning and housing minister Anthony Roberts suspended housing developments in the local government areas (LGAs) of Ryde and Canterbury-Bankstown, citing a “huge increase” in housing supply and the need for a review of the LGA’s infrastructure.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in the amount of dwelling in parts of Sydney,” Mr Roberts said.

“[What] we’re concerned about is where councils, together with the previous government, have zoned large tracts of land for high rise and we haven’t seen the infrastructure meeting the needs.

“Not just roads, we’re talking about schools, hospitals, police, fire and ambulance.”

However, executive director of the NSW Property Council, Jane Fitzgerald, was critical of the government’s “extraordinary” decision, claiming that the suspension would exacerbate housing affordability pressures.

“Sydneysiders are struggling to buy unaffordable homes and we know that increasing supply is the key to addressing that problem,” the executive director said.

“[The] announcement is about politics, not policy, and ultimately it will be future home buyers who pay.

“Premier Berejiklian’s top priority was to make housing more affordable, but this announcement is more aligned with the ‘Sydney’s full’ rhetoric of the early 2000s which all but stopped a reasonable level housing supply for a decade and directly contributed to the problems we now face.”

Ms Fitzgerald called for the adoption of the Greater Sydney Commission’s (GSC) recommendations, which noted the need for 725,000 additional homes by 2036.

The executive director claimed that avoiding such targets would place further upward pressure on house prices.

“Raising the white flag now is not the answer. We can’t put housing supply on hold while councils incorporate the new plans. If we do, we will just get further behind and house prices will inevitably go up,” Ms Fitzgerald continued.

“The government’s focus should now be on delivering the infrastructure that is needed to support the new housing and doing all it can to attract the investment that will help make this a reality.

“To pretend the infrastructure deficit has arrived in the past two months since the GSC delivered its plans is a sham.

“A better approach would be to prioritise new infrastructure investment to where it’s needed and alleviate the pressure on these communities.”

CBA backs community housing initiative

The comments around the potential exacerbation of housing affordability pressures in Sydney come as the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (CBA) not-for-profit group, St. George Community Housing (SGCH), committed to a $10 million debt financing facility to help provide over 700 affordable homes to Sydneysiders by 2021.

“If we want a diverse and thriving local community and economy, we need more affordable housing options so that low-income earners and key-workers, such as teachers, can live in the suburbs where they work,” SGCH group chief executive officer Scott Langford said.

“To receive financial backing from the Commonwealth Bank shows they understand our vision and pursuit to provide great places to live for lower-income households in Sydney.

“Partnering with the Commonwealth Bank means we can develop hundreds of high-quality, affordable homes in places where there is a critical shortage of affordable housing.”

Commonwealth Bank’s general manager for social impact and specialised industries, Vanessa Nolan-Woods, noted the bank’s commitment to supporting the social and affordable housing sector.

“As more community housing providers gain work through government initiatives, we’ve seen an increased need for not-for-profits to partner with non-government and private sectors to raise new capital,” Ms Nolan-Woods said.

“We’re proud to play our part in supporting the sustainable expansion of community housing across the state, and this partnership advances our work in the sector.

“We have worked closely with SGCH to execute this deal and will continue to work with government, community and not-for-profits to drive outcomes in the social housing sector.”


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