Extension of Planning Law Opens Way To Greater Affordability

The Sydney Alliance of community organisations has welcomed the extension of an important planning law to all NSW councils – opening the way to building more affordable units in new developments across the state.

The Alliance of over 40 not-for-profit organisations says the extension of State Environmental Planning Policy No. 70 (SEPP 70) to all Local Government Areas, announced this week by Planning Minister Anthony Roberts MP, is an important step towards improving rental affordability.

The Alliance had long campaigned for the law to be extended to all councils.

Says Magnus Linder, co-chair of the Sydney Alliance Affordable Housing Action Team:

“This reform coming into effect means councils can now proceed to developing affordable housing contribution schemes without having to seek the Minister’s approval.

“This is a much needed change, at a time when thousands of Sydney households are facing unprecedented stress from unaffordable and insecure rental.

“Even during the current lull in house prices, research shows this downturn has not filtered through to more affordable or more secure rents for people on lower incomes. Shortage of rental housing for people on lower incomes remains a critical problem for Sydney.”

The Sydney Alliance has urged the NSW government to go much further to address the crisis. Says Magnus Linder: “The government’s own commissioned research has shown this measure, based on its current very low affordability targets of just 5-10%, offers fewer than 4,000 new affordable dwellings over the next ten years – very welcome but not nearly enough.

“It’s nowhere near the estimated 12,500 social and affordable homes that must be built each year over ten years, for NSW to even keep pace with the unaffordability trend – let alone reduce it.

“We urge the adoption of a 15% affordability target on private land, and 30% on government land – plus significantly increased investment in capital grants ensuring the building of at least 5,000 social housing units a year for the next decade.

“The new guideline says affordable housing may apply in state-led planned precincts – but needs to spell out directly how it will be addressed. The government should declare affordable housing to be viable, and clarify the rules that apply.

“Our government must not take the foot off the affordable housing pedal now. We must stay on target – with a long-term strategy that will help us all ride out the downturn.”  

Magnus Linder, Co-Chair, Sydney Alliance Housing Action Team
0417 487 052