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Affordable Housing Doesn’t Come Cheap

By Duncan Horscroft on December 1, 2020 in News

Cheap cheap. Photo: Greg Bird

Bondi identity Phil Leadley is leading the fight to stop the development of three heritage bungalows in Edward Street by artist Ken Done’s Cadmium Property company under the guise of affordable housing.
The bungalows initially housed eight people, but the proposal to convert these into a “boarding house” complex comprising 37 “micro units” has local residents fuming.
Around one hundred objections have already been filed with Waverley Council, but Cadmium seems oblivious to the uproar and applied for the matter to be heard by the Land and Environment Court.
Phil and local residents are concerned the development will eventually play host to holiday rentals, or even a backpacker’s hostel, and will seriously impact the local neighbourhood.
“I’ve lived in this area for over 40 years and it has always been family friendly with plenty of trees and green space, but this outrageous proposal will knock out existing trees and gardens and turn it into a concrete jungle, which goes against Waverley Council’s edict of maintaining green space within the municipality,” Phil said.
“It (the development) should be in Pitt Street, not a suburban neighbourhood,” he said.
The main issue is that properties developed under the affordable housing banner are simply not delivering the goods, with many units already in existence in both Randwick and Waverley municipalities advertising at-market prices.
How can small self-contained studio-apartments possibly be affordable with rents of up to $500 a week? The financial returns are favourable to the developers, with returns of more than 10 per cent on investment, but not those in need.
Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos said Council has been at the forefront to change the existing Affordable Rental Housing State Environmental Planning Policy (ARHSEPP).
“The objectives of the policy to increase affordable housing supply are laudable, as this issue is one of the most commonly raised by our community,” she said.
“However, the policy achieves its aims by permitting developers to construct additional floor space beyond that permitted by the Council’s LEP (Local Environment Plans) in return for the provision of affordable housing.”
“Research has found that boarding houses delivered under the New South Wales government planning control are not actually affordable and not required to be rented at an affordable rate.”
“Furthermore, Waverley Council has advised the New South Wales government that in areas with floor space ratio controls, such as Edward Street, the 0.5:1 bonus effectively doubles the allowable floor space and can contribute to excessive bulk and scale of boarding house development.”
Cr Masselos said Council supported a proposed change by the state government to reduce the extra floor space bonus developers are receiving and to mandate that they be affordable.
“We recognise that increasing housing stress caused by the loss of affordable housing has detrimental ramifications such as the displacement of long-term residents in gentrifying areas, loss of cultural and social diversity and key workers struggling to afford housing costs proportionally to low incomes.”
One local boutique property developer (who asked to remain anonymous) told The Beast he was outraged at how some people in his industry took advantage of loopholes to make a lot of money and have no concern whatsoever for the local communities.
“Some of us adhere to the rules and face strict guidelines to get our proposals accepted and completed. This doesn’t appear to be the case when it comes to so-called affordable accommodation,” he said.
“Why are so many of these constructions appearing around the beaches and not in the Western Suburbs? Because in the long run, these developments will be off-sold for a tidy profit.”