Mike Baird must be more 'ambitious and interventionist' in tackling Sydney's affordable housing crisis

Mike Baird needs to be more "ambitious and interventionist" in tackling Sydney's affordable housing crisis, according to a consortium of faith-based organisations, academics and unions claiming to represent 600,000 Sydneysiders.

In an open letter to the Premier, delivered as the Greater Sydney Commission released its draft district plans on Monday, the group took aim at the commission's proposed 5-10 per cent affordable rental housing target on new housing developments on rezoned government and private land.

"Our organisations all agree that a minimum of 15 per cent [target] is required for meaningful impact on Sydney's housing affordability. A much higher proportion, around 30 per cent, should be achieved on government-owned land," the letter stated.

It was co-signed by an array of Christian, Muslim and Jewish organisations, eight academics from Sydney universities and a number of unions.

The consortium also called on the commission, the new planning agency headed by Lucy Turnbull, to apply the target to the whole development, rather than calculating it based on the "uplift" of added units.

"NSW can and should do better to ensure affordable housing for all. This state has the strongest economy and budget position of any in Australia."

The new mandated housing target – the first of its kind to be uniformly applied to new developments across Sydney – is designed to boost the supply of affordable homes that can be rented at below-market rate by low-income households – those earning less $67,600 a year.

The target is a key measure contained in the plans, which carve Sydney into six geographical districts with distinct housing supply and jobs targets over the next two decades.

Councils across Sydney were reviewing the plan's hundreds of pages of glossy documents on Monday for details of the new controls the commission will impose upon them.

Among them is a five-year housing target, which each council must endeavour to deliver in a bid to provide the 725,000 dwellings needed across Sydney over the next two decades.

While a spokesperson for the City of Sydney said its target of 18,300 new dwellings "generally align[ed] with the City's projected growth", Sutherland Shire lord mayor Carmelo Pesce was less optimistic about what he described as the plan's "premature targets".

"The 20-year housing target for the southern district of 83,000 additional dwellings is somewhat daunting at present," he said, "but I am pleased that future council targets will be aligned with investment in regional and district infrastructure."

Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore said she "strongly support[ed] and welcome[d] the new targets on affordable housing but was "disappointed transport and schools have been overlooked".

"More than 60,000 people will live in Green Square by 2030, that's the same size as Wagga Wagga, and yet light rail hasn't moved off the drawing board and there are no plans for a school at all."

In western Sydney, Blacktown mayor Stephen Bali, who is also president of Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils, also said the district plans needed to ensure that future planning went beyond housing considerations.

"There is no doubt that Sydney needs more housing, but if the communities we are building aren't liveable with good access to employment, transport, services and recreation then we are doing our residents a major disservice."

November 21 2016 / SMH

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