Council could triple affordable housing

A report commissioned by Marrickville Council has found that the Council could triple affordable housing on the Marrickville Hospital Site, at no cost to Council, by encouraging development by not-for-profit housing providers and using innovative models such as Community Land Trusts. The next step for the site will be an Expressions of Interest process.

The Old Marrickville Hospital Site is a Council owned property with multimillion dollar potential, which is set to be developed by the Council this term. It is the largest project ever to be developed by Council.

Marrickville Councillors and staff inspect preparation works at the Old Marrickville Hospital Site, 2012

Marrickville Councillors and staff inspect preparation works at the Old Marrickville Hospital Site, 2012

Affordable housing is a key priority for the Greens on Marrickville Council. The Greens moved to form the bi-partisan Affordable Housing Committee earlier this year, and the first priority of the committee was to commission research on the smartest and most cost effective ways to build affordable housing on the Hospital Site.

More information about the report received at the July meeting, and the latest Council decisions on the future of the Old Marrickville Hospital Site overall, is below. Also check out:

1 August 2013

Media Release: “Report finds Marrickville Council could  triple affordable housing at no extra cost”

A report commissioned by Marrickville Council has found that the Council could triple affordable housing on the Marrickville Hospital Site. The report was one of the items debated at the July 2013 Council meeting, the same meeting at which Marrickville Councillors approved the Expressions of Interest (EIO) for the site.

Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore and Co-chair of Marrickville Council’s Affordable Housing Committee said, “One of the Greens first actions this Council term was to commission research about the most cost effective way Council could deliver affordable housing at the Old Marrickville Hospital Site.”

A report entitled “Affordable Housing and the Old Marrickville Hospital Site Report” by Dr Stewart Lawler and Dr Peter Phibbs was received at the July 2013 Council meeting. Drawing on evidence from other local housing projects and previous modelling commissioned by Council the report found that if Community Housing Providers were encouraged to develop part of the site this could deliver significantly more affordable housing, compared to using a private developer.

Clr Ellsmore said, “The Council has set a basic target of 4% affordable housing for the Old Marrickville Hospital Site. Given the scale of the affordable housing crisis in the inner west this is a very minimal standard.

“This latest report has confirmed that there are ways for Council to get more bang for our buck, if we’re smart about it. The report finds that by encouraging not-for-profits organisations to be involved as developers we may be able to deliver as much as three times the affordable housing, with no extra cost to Council.

Clr Ellsmore said, “By adopting the recommendations of the affordable housing report and making changes to the EOI we are encouraging a wide range of Community Housing Providers to put their hand up to be involved in the development of the Old Marrickville Hospital site.

“Council is also sending a message to the Community Housing sector that we are open to innovative projects, including home ownership models such as the Community Land Trust model, which is also discussed in the report,” she said.

Community consultation: Council voted to make affordable housing a key aspect of the consultation about the development of the Hospital Site.

Clr Ellsmore said, “The community has consistently identified affordable housing as a key priority. However affordable housing is a diverse and complex term.

“If Council is going to build housing for high needs families we also need to look at related issues such as what local services are available. I look forward to consulting with local community services and residents about these important issues.”

Next steps: The EOI for the Old Marrickville Hospital Site will now be considered by the Department of Planning, before being finalised and publicly advertised in the next 1-3 months. Council will use the EOI to test the interest of the market in developing the site, before making further decisions about what final development plans it will support, including for the proposed library and community hub.

The affordable housing recommendations were passed by the Greens and ALP Councillors, and opposed by Conservative Mayor Macri and the Liberals.

Clr Ellsmore said, “The Greens remain committed to the delivery of the community hub based on the preferred design and features identified through extensive community consultations, held in previous years, and a public park at the site, alongside residential and commercial development.

“While the Greens have concerns about overdevelopment at the Old Marrickville Hospital Site, we have also been working actively with fellow Councillors to ensure that whatever outcome it includes meaningful new affordable housing stock,” she said.

Other affordable housing projects: The Old Marrickville Hospital Site was one of several affordable housing issues debated at the July Council meeting. Also passed at the July meeting was an ALP motion for “in principle” higher densities for new developments by Community Housing Providers, subject to “acceptable planning impacts”

Clr Ellsmore said, “Current planning regulations include concessions for Community Housing Providers looking to build new community housing near public transport. The Greens support these concessions, and are concerned that proposed changes to planning laws threaten to remove them.

“The Greens do not support simplistic policies of land release or higher density development, under the guise of creating more affordable housing.

“This has been a failed strategy of both the current and past State and Federal Governments and it has done little or nothing to reduce the affordable housing crisis in Marrickville.

“However we strongly support sustainable infill development, where this properly balances the needs of current and future residents. We will continue to work with and support Community Housing Providers to build and maintain affordable housing in our local areas in a sustainable way,” Clr Ellsmore said.

A copy of the “Affordable Housing and the Old Marrickville Hospital Site: A Report to Marrickville Council – June 2013” report by Dr Lawler and Dr Phibbs can be found in the Council papers on www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au.

Also check out:

Media Contact: Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore, North Ward (Wali) 0403 977 213

Marrickville Council Meeting 16 July 2013 – Item 4 AFFORDABLE HOUSING COMMITTEE

RESOLUTION THAT Council:

1. receive and note the report prepared by Dr Stewart Lawler and Dr Peter Phibbs titled

Affordable Housing and the Old Marrickville Hospital Site: A Report to Marrickville Council – June 2013”;

2. note the conclusion to the above report that a greater percentage of affordable housing could be achieved on the Marrickville Hospital site, without reducing the return to Council from its sale, through use of alternative development mechanisms and arrangements that include:

  • development of one of the precincts C, D or E by a community housing provider that would fund the construction through sale of some of the units;
  • use of shared equity, co-ownership or a Community Land Trust model, that would generate income to contribute to capital and maintenance costs of the project;

3. consider increasing the minimum affordable housing on the site to 10% of total dwelling yield;

4. maximise the provision of affordable housing by Community Housing Providers on the Marrickville Hospital site through allowing submissions in relation to one of, or any combination of, precincts C, D and E;

5. consider giving concessions to Community Housing Providers where appropriate;

6. encourage Expressions of Interest from Community Housing Providers interested in a shared equity, co-ownership or a Community Land Trust Model;

7. consider including the following criteria in the EOI:

a. more weight be given to proposals that maximise affordable housing on the site without reducing the return to Council;

b. affordable Housing is defined as housing provided at a cost geared to income and the household’s ability to pay and that is available to low, very low and moderate income households;

Very low income household Less than 50% of median household income

Low income household 50 or more but less than 80%

Moderate 80 – 120%

c. units to be self-contained, flexible and diverse in size. Design to be durable and

sustainable – with low maintenance and running costs, energy efficient features and low embodied energy materials and construction;

d. a range of unit types (including 3 plus bedroom) with ground floor units for families and those that need easy access;

e. affordable Housing tenants to have connection with Marrickville – employment, familial or educational link;

f. affordable housing can be for rent or purchase through a shared equity scheme.

g. affordability to be maintained in perpetuity – either the same number of units on the site or on other land within the Marrickville LGA;

h. community Housing Providers must have a demonstrated ability to deliver and maintain affordable housing;

8. reaffirm its commitment to public consultation in relation to affordable housing on the Marrickville Hospital Site, including as part of the proposed consultation strategy which will be developed for the Site’s Redevelopment EOI; and

9. commit to ongoing engagement with the community regarding Council’s Affordable Housing Strategy. As previously recommended by the Committee this includes the immediate development of enhanced information and feedback tools through the Council’s website.

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