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More affordable rental units to come after government removes barrier

The policy – known as State Environmental Planning Policy No. 70 (SEPP 70) – allows councils to nominate areas for rezoning; when developers take advantage of those rezonings, they would then be required to make contributions for affordable housing.

Those contributions could come in the form of homes directly created by developers, to be let to those on low to very-low incomes for below-market rent, or in the form of monetary contributions.

A typical model is for governments to nominate not-for-profit community housing providers to manage affordable rental homes.

For instance, City West Housing Pty Ltd was created by the NSW Government in the mid-1990s to manage affordable rental properties, created when the Ultimo and Pyrmont areas were rezoned.

City West Housing also manages affordable units created through rezoning land at Green Square.

Mr Roberts’ proposal to include all council areas in SEPP 70 comes after five local governments – Randwick, Inner West, Northern Beaches, City of Ryde and the City of Canada Bay – were added to the scheme, which already included the City of Sydney, last year.

But inclusion in SEPP 70 does not automatically mean that councils are able to levy developers to create affordable units. Councils will still have to nominate areas for rezoning in which the affordable housing scheme can apply.

The City of Sydney, for example, has proposed extending its affordable housing policy across the whole council area, not just Pyrmont, Ultimo and Green Square. This proposal has not yet been agreed to by the NSW government.

“By removing the red tape on councils, we’re allowing them to more respond more quickly to the specific affordable housing needs of their local area,” Mr Roberts said.

“It will help to facilitate the development of more affordable housing options for those on very low incomes and workers, such as child, disability and aged care workers who should be able to live closer to where they work,” he said.

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The extension of SEPP 70 to all local governments is also intended to make it easier for councils to meet the Greater Sydney Commission’s proposal for 5-10 per cent of the value of rezoned land to be used for affordable housing.

And the proposal comes after Mr Roberts warned the property industry this week that, unless it did more to restore trust with communities, it risked losing its social licence to operate.

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