Under the previous government’s affordable housing legislation, medium-density developments were allowed to be built even if they did not comply with local planning laws as long as 20 per cent of the housing was rented out at below market rates for 10 years.
The policy was widely criticised as only providing a short term solution for affordable housing while permanently changing the overall amenity and character of local neighbourhoods.
“The problem with this policy, was that it allowed increased development above and beyond development controls that had been put in place by local councils in consultation with their communities” says the General Manager of Manly Council, Mr Henry Wong.
“Developers were using the policy to build developments that were significantly bigger than they would normally be allowed under our usualplanning controls. Meanwhile, they only had to provide half a car parking spot per dwelling and in 10 years time, they could sell the whole development off for market prices” says Mr Wong.
“We all agree that affordable housing is cricitcal for all communities – we desperately need more of it. But we need it in the right places and with the right planning processes in place.”
The State Planning Minister, Mr Brad Hazzard has announced that from May 20th, no applications will be accepted under the old policy. Existing applications will be subject to a ”character test” to ensure they are compatible with local development control plans
Mr Wong says that Manly Council is attempting to clarify what the change in policy means for a controversial development application that was recently lodged to build affordable housing in Beatrice Street, Clontarf.
“We have contacted the Department of Planning and we are trying to work out how this Development Application will proceed. We understand that the Clontarf community are one of many communities around the state that have been affected by this legislation.”
“We welcome the fact that the State Government has responded to the considerable community angst over this important issue and we look forward to what measures will be put implemented to replace it.
The full text of the Minister’s announcement can be found here.