Evictions in Wentworth Park

Media release

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 

Wentworth Park evictions Martin Place all over again

The Berejiklian Government is moving on the homeless people living under the arches in Wentworth Park.  It is a victory for appearance versus real action on homelessness in Sydney and smacks of a heartless Government.

“The homeless have been promised 7 day free accommodation and further month of free accommodation while a permanent home is found for them.  We welcome good accommodation for all people but we suspect that this approach is just superficial ‘tidying up’,” said Denis Doherty from Hands off Glebe.

“Police are in attendance from time to time to add muscle to the evictions while a 24 hour presence of security officers is employed to keep the arches ‘clean’ of people.  Investment in enforcement instead of investment in people.

“Almost within eyesight is the development where public housing land has been converted into ritzy apartments with names like West End and costing as much as $2.3 million each.

“But where is the NSW Government investment in housing for the homelessand the services they need to live successfully in new homes?

“Instead, as the waiting list for public housing goes over 60,000 the NSW Government has sold off about 4,000 public housing places in the inner city and failed to invest funds in public housing, Denis Doherty said.

“The actions of police backed up by the new laws is part of the process of preparing Wentworth Park for the new Fish Markets which will see the building of 2,760 apartments, not one of which will be for social housing.

“The time for a rethink about housing for lower social economic groups has long been with us.  The solution is not the use of police but investment in social housing,” he concluded.

 

 

Community Masterplan for the Market District of the Bays Precinct

FISH MARKETS and WENTWORTH PARK

PREAMBLE

A large community meeting held on May 3, 2017 in Glebe expressed deep concern about the development of the Bays Precinct, the lack of concrete information about what was about to be undertaken, and their anger that their voices were not being heard.

Community members agreed that it was necessary to genuinely consult the people of the area to find out what was important to them and then to develop a form of Community Master Plan which could be presented to the NSW Government, UrbanGrowth and their architects and planners.

The Glebe Grapevine agreed to develop a survey and this was done with some assistance from the office of the local MP Jamie Parker.

6,000 copies of the Grapevine containing the survey were letterboxed across the suburb. The survey was also sent out on line. Four drop off points along Glebe Point Road and two postal addresses were used for the survey collection in addition to on line responses.

We received back a response of 2% which is fairly standard for surveys.  Survey responses were collated and the results used as the basis for this Community Master Plan. 84% of the replies came from Glebe residents, 3% from Ultimo, the remaining 13% came from other suburbs.

THE BAYS PRECINCT

The areas designated as immediate priority destinations by UrbanGrowth are the Bays Waterfront Promenade Stage 1 Pyrmont to Blackwattle Bay, the White Bay Power Station, the Bays Market District including the Sydney Fish Market and Wentworth Park.

These areas are where we have lived, worked and played for generations. Many people in our “Glebe Village” have lived here for many years and are descendants of earlier Glebe residents. At the same time, with increasing high rise apartment developments in different parts of our suburb, we have welcomed in many new residents.

This has put new pressures on schools, health services, roads, parking, public transport and other services. There is concern that this will increase with new residents and many more visitors as a result of the Bays Precinct developments.

The greater part of the area to be developed is public land and should remain so. Wentworth Park should remain public land under the control of Sydney City Council.

 

 

WENTWORTH PARK

There is a passionate commitment to preserving Wentworth Park. Residents were strongly (60%) against any loss of green space and the loss of any trees. Concern was also expressed about the park becoming shaded on four sides by high rise developments.

Some community members favour expanding Wentworth Park so it crosses Bridge Road (with traffic sent underground) and reaches the foreshore, greening the Hanson cement site or an even wider area.

78% of respondents said they used the park regularly for walks, sports, training, exercising dogs and picnics.

22% reported that they did not use the park, citing age and fear of the homeless living under the viaduct. However, many of these people also stated that they value Wentworth Park because green space is important for a city and that Sydney does not have enough of it.

TRANSPORT

The second matter of greatest concern to the Glebe community is traffic.

With recent large residential developments in and around Glebe already congested roads have become even more crowded.

It is clear that any development of these areas of the Bays Precinct cannot progress without the development of an integrated traffic plan that deals with traffic congestion and plans future traffic flows.

The plan must include provision of bus and ferry links, improved access to and from the light rail, large parking facilities, and bicycle lanes.

A suggestion that a pedestrian bridge might link Wentworth Park to the foreshore received 72% support, providing that it did not involve the loss of any green space or trees.

FISH MARKET

The move of the Fish Market received some contradictory results.  When asked about the move of the market 37% opted for UrbanGrowth’s model on the Hanson site.  When asked about the Hanson site itself most opted for the walkway 49% while the Market gained 27% and low rise commercial 16%.

Some (23%) prefer that it be moved towards the old Glebe Island Bridge and others (23%) want it to go to the White Bay Power Station. One condition is a broad insistence that the foreshore walkway be retained with unimpeded access.

Provision of a ferry stop at the new Fish Market was raised as an important service by some respondents.

Concerns are expressed about increased pollution of the bay, distracting noise and smells for the school, public access to the foreshore, increased traffic and parking.

 

HOUSING

There is majority (54%) opposition to any high rise residential and/or commercial development on the foreshore.

However, 43% of residents indicated that they agree with high rise development (retail with residential above) on the old Fish Markets site.

There is strong support for any housing built in the area to include affordable and public housing.

93% of respondents wanted some public and affordable housing while only 7% wanted only private housing.

15% of respondents wanted different approaches which vary from all housing to be public housing through to no public housing at all.

HANSON CEMENT SITE

The survey indicated that the largest trend (65%) among the community for this site was for the area to converted to open space for a walkway or at the very least some opportunity for low rise commercial ventures.  27% did want the Fish Market there and a further 9% mentioned a ferry wharf, a town beach, and a bus depot

A constant theme was the call for public access to the foreshore and a walkway across the site, however it is developed.

A number of residents expressed the need for the development to include retention of the area’s historical and industrial features.

PUBLIC ACCESS – FORESHORE WALKWAY

Responses to several survey questions showed that there is strong support for unimpeded public access to the foreshore with a continuous walkway, including space for both pedestrians and cyclists. At present the walkway from Annandale finishes at the Hanson cement site. Residents wish it to continue unbroken to Woollooomooloo.


 

COMMUNITY MASTER PLAN

We hope that the rejuvenation of the Bays Precinct will create spaces that sit well with our Glebe Village lifestyle but also expand our horizons as more visitors arrive and more opportunities for employment and leisure are created.

We appreciate the vision of a new fresh food and fish market that can attract people from across Sydney and wider to shop, enjoy restaurants and entertainments and experience our beautiful harbour.

We hope that the Bays Precinct will indeed become a place that contributes to healthy, prosperous and resilient lifestyles.

We do not want our bay and its foreshores surrounded by high rise buildings created for profit rather than to meet the needs of the people of Sydney. We want low rise homes that are a mix of public housing, affordable housing and private housing, reflecting the current rich diversity in Glebe.

We welcome the appointment of 3XN as the architects firm to design the new Sydney Fish Market and hope that they will engage with us as the local community.

We also look forward to engaging with the urban designer to be appointed to develop a master plan for the Bays Market District.

We hope that these companies will acknowledge us as major stakeholders and take seriously into account the following priorities expressed by our community for the Bays Precinct development.

Priorities for the Bays Precinct development

  1. There must be no developments in the area without prior adoption of detailed plans for improved and expanded services including schools, public transport and roads/traffic.
  2. There must be no privatisation of public land.
  3. The Bays Market District and commercial/residential buildings must be designed and built without compromising Wentworth Park, with no loss of trees and no loss of green space.
  4. Using any part of Wentworth Park for these purposes cannot be offset by the provision of other green space (foreshore pocket parks, etc) and is not allowable.
  5. An integrated plan covering expanded public transport, traffic flows, cycle ways and provision of increased parking areas must be an essential element of the Bays Precinct developments and must be in place concurrently with other design and planning elements.
  6. The traffic plan must include dedicated public transport — bus, ferry and light rail — to the new Bays Market District.
  7. The Fish Markets do not necessarily have to move to the Hanson site. The new Fish Markets and Bays Market District should not be high rise buildings and should not intrude into the bay to too great an extent.
  8. The new Fish Markets and Bays Market District development should include a ferry stop.
  9. The development should acknowledge and retain industrial and historical features of the area. The coal loader should be replenished and conserved.
  10. The development of commercial and/or residential buildings on the shore line must be low rise. High rise is not to be allowed in this part of the Bays Precinct. (Limit to 5 storeys)
  11. Any residential development must include 20% affordable and 20% public housing.
  12. The development must not intrude too far into the bay and must not compromise Wentworth Park in any way.
  13. The development must include public access to a foreshore walkway and must also be greened to the maximum extent possible.
  14. Development of the Waterfront Promenade and the Bays Market District must include unimpeded public access to the foreshore including a continuous walkway from Annandale to Woolloomooloo.
  15. Serious attention must be given to providing full and free access to the foreshore and walkway for the disabled.

Media Release on Fish Market Survey – Community rejects Government Plans

Media Release

Monday July 3, 2017

Community Survey rejects Government’s plans for Fish Market.

The announcement of the architect for proposed changes to the Fish Market coincided with an extensive community survey being conducted by the local activist group Hands off Glebe Inc.  Surveys were on line and nearly 6,000 questionnaires were distributed throughout Glebe and Ultimo.

Hands off Glebe Inc runs a local newsletter called ‘The Glebe Grapevine’ which is a bi monthly publication placed in letterboxes around the suburb.

“This month’s edition of the Glebe Grapevine spurred on by a very successful public meeting about the Bays Precinct, the Fish Market and associated issues, decided to conduct a survey of Glebe and Ultimo residents using the hand delivered Grapevine. We also provided an electronic survey for people outside the suburb. The questions are the work and responsibility of the committee,”  Denis Doherty, convenor of Hands off Glebe, said.

“We had a good response to our survey and local businesses were prepared to be drop off points for completed surveys.  The responses were in the majority from Glebe (84%) while we received 3% from Ultimo, 3% from Drummoyne, 3% from Leichhardt, 2% from Annandale and the remaining 5% from other suburbs.

“Residents are alarmed that the very valuable park near the site is in danger of being eroded by the new development.

“They are not happy that the residential area is largely for the wealthy and does not make allowances for social housing.  This is an insensitive response to the current housing crisis in Sydney.  Local residents know that in direct eyesight of the new development nearly 100 homeless people are living in tents under the viaduct which cuts through Wentworth Park.

“The greater influx of traffic caused by the new expanded market will only result in further congestion of an already congested Glebe and Ultimo.

“There are other concerns highlighted by the survey such as pollution of the bay.  The effect on the school has not been considered.

“By far and away the most important issue to the community was access to the foreshore for passive and active recreation.  The community wants the walkway around the bays to the city extended through this site as well open space for all.

 

Copies of the survey results and questions are available on our website.

www.handsoffglebe.org

for more information

contact Denis Doherty 0418 290 663

 

Community Survey on Fish Market

click here for the pdf of the results

SURVEY RESULTS – edited

 

Results of the Survey on the market district of the Bays Precinct or the Fish Market Proposals

June 2017


Introduction

The Glebe Grapevine and Hands off Glebe Inc, spurred on by a successful public meeting about the Bays Precinct, the Fish Market and associated issues, decided to conduct a survey of Glebe and Ultimo residents using the hand delivered Grapevine. We also provided an electronic survey for people outside the suburb. The questions are the work and responsibility of the committee. Our chief concern was to find out what the people of the area think about these issues.

We had a 2% survey responses were received.  The responses were in the majority from Glebe 84% while we received 3% from Ultimo, 3% from Drummoyne, 3% from Leichhardt, 2% from Annandale and the remaining 5% from other suburbs.

Question 1 sought to check out what the locals thought the impacts would be on the area.  The question was: Which of these possible impacts of the new ‘Market District’ are you most concerned about? Circle up to 3

 

Cutting down some of the trees that line Wentworth Park, losing some green space in Wentworth Park, Wentworth Park being shaded by high rise on 4 sides, Increased risk of pollution into Blackwattle Bay, Problems parking/entering the water/foreshore and other amenities, Threat of fish markets noise/smell entering the school Traffic and parking /lack of public transport

The results show that issues around Wentworth Park concerned 60% of respondents while traffic concerned 30% and pollution and the threat to the school concerned 6% each.  There are some comments which are listed below bringing up other concerns.

not being able to walk all around the foreshore, awful high rise alienating “people” from the landscape, Wentworth Park was the first park ever opened after 1788 – it should be preserved and promoted as such. Bay being covered by buildings,  impact on accessible tranquil bayside and green spaces, nimbys and lack of political will – would prevent it from happening 2

suggest underground parking under Wentworth Park, loss of air movement due to buildings

loss of views eg of the harbour bridge etc

Green space lost to development can never be recovered

 

Loss of Dragon Boat site at 1 Bank street

Q2.High Rise or Not?

This asked a simple yes or no question.

 

Those in the community opposing high rise outnumber those supporting or accepting high rise by 11% which is a considerable gap.  Comments included:

 

prefer that the markets stay

look to Amsterdam and Paris some development but no high rise

the Glebe Ultimo Pyrmont area is already overdeveloped

only if 20% is affordable housing provided

Foreshore is owned by the people! Not developers.

What’s wrong with original site?

will create shade

How high?

insufficient space for new fish market

Absolutely necessary

high rise of less than 5 storeys

Must be low rise

Depends on height, remember Barangaroo?

Park please

10 Levels only!

Leave fish market where it is.

if low rise

want beach & parks

Already over developed

We have enough retail

3-5 levels only.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question 3  If high rise housing is built at the old Fish Market site, what percentage of affordable and social housing would you like to see included?

 

 

Most residents indicated that they wanted to have affordable and social housing in any new residential towers by a massive 93% versus only 7% who rejected any affordable and/or public housing.

 

Comments included::

50% affordable, 50% public housing

50% public housing

no high rise on shoreline

10% affordable and 10%public

33% private, 33% public 33% affordable

enough social housing in Glebe already

public housing indefinitely not for example for 7 years as at Green Square.

build somewhere else

No public housing; improve social status of glebe

One-third public housing

All Public

between 5-20% affordable

100% public housing, don’t sell public land

All public land, do not sell

offset with suitable affordable housing in another location not on waterfront

10% each to public & affordable housing

Only affordable for all especially for essential workers

All public housing

A third to affordable, public and private

Question 4 Where would you prefer to see the fish markets moved from its current location?

 

 

The Government favoured site for the Fish Market next door to the school only scored 35% while other locations totaled 65%.  This view is confirmed by the responses received to question 5 below.

 

Other comments made were:

move along but not close to school

not sure does it need to move?

WHY DOES it have to be moved?

where it is now, why move

leave it where it is

redevelop where it is

somewhere else

somewhere else more accessible

where it currently is

Do not move fish markets

Don’t move it at all

 

 

 

Q 5. What do you think should be done with the old Hanson cement site?

This open ended question elicited the following trends: 49% wanted the area converted to open space for walking, cycling etc. A further 16% were prepared to have low rise community buildings plus restaurants plus a walkway.  This adds up to 65% not wanting the Fish Market to move there. 27% did want the Fish Market there and a further 9% mentioned a ferry wharf, a town beach, and a bus depot.

 

 

Nearly 100 comments were received to this question. They included:

close down and convert to pedestrian precinct

parkland and walkway

fish market

public access

fish market

no development over 3 storeys

move to western sydney

open space – reclaim bay

redevelopment into apartments, retail or fish market

open waterfront public space for recreation

fish market

fish market

foreshore walk

community area cafes and greenery

retail space

open space – community function spaces, outdoor music and film space

Question 6:  What do you think of the idea of having a pedestrian bridge connecting Wentworth Park to the foreshore?

Respondents added comments including:

Any development must accommodate a bike lane to reduce/remove the motorist/cyclist danger on Bridge Road

build a flyover

sink Bridge Rd and extend Wentworth Park above it – no buildings

the park should not be touched

small footprint

ferry wharf for fish market

move road underground and connect park to fish market

pedestrian bridge good idea

footbridge never for cars

the park should not be touched

on the proviso that the footprint is small

move the traffic underground, connect the park to the foreshore

ok if it stays a footbridge and never used for cars in the future

depends on the location, design and impact

probably not needed just have traffic lights and pedestrian crossing on the road.

footbridge for larger numbers of pedestrians

depends on the ultimate alignment of Bridge Road — if the road is to be realigned to south of the light rail viaduct then a bridge may be moot  or at least a short term palliative.

is it just for market/hi rise dwellers

Q7 How would you like to see the location of the current Fish Markets and the area along the Wentworth Park foreshore developed?

 

 

This open ended question elicited only a small response in favour of UrbanGrowth’s position of moving the Fish Market to the Hanson site and building high rise commercial and retail building on the old Fish Market site. Most replies opted for low rise, small commercial and open space.

 

Comments included:

community space public and affordable housing – NO High Rise

small commercial and recreational

retail and restaurants

no high rise residential on the shore line.  Public walkways

public space no high rise

no high rise

renovate the existing buildings

more space for fishing boats

residential – expand Wentworth Park

redevelop fish market

continuous foreshore walk

cafes and apartments

medium density – unimpeded public foreshore access

no high rise

public use – some cafes – no high rise

mixed use – shops cafes – foreshore walk

foreshore walk and mixed use

update fish market – more outdoor grassed areas for eating outdoors

cafes and restaurants – like Darling Harbour

retail apartments -marina

green corridor, walking bicycle track -no High Rise, café

keep as is or community shared space

environmentally and pleasing way

keep fish market no high rise no expensive private housing restaurants cafes etc

extend foreshore walk from glebe low rise building terraced as at Glebe Pt

foreshore walk from Annandale to Wooloomoloo

don’t move fish market

 

Question 8 Do you use Wentworth Park now?

 

 78% of respondents said they used the park regularly for walks, sports, training, exercising dogs and picnics.

22% reported that they did not use the park, citing age and fear of the homeless living under the viaduct. However, many of these people also stated that they value Wentworth Park because green space is important for a city and that Sydney does not have enough of it.

 

Glebe Grapevine May 2017 – survey on Fish Market

GG May 2017

May 2017

What to you want to happen
at the Bays Precinct?

A crowded community meeting on May 3 decided to develop a Community Master Plan for the Bays Market District which covers the Sydney Fish Market, land under the ANZAC Bridge along Bank Street Pyrmont, the first stage of a Bays Waterfront Promenade along Bank Street, and connections to Wentworth Park (see map on page 4).

Please complete the community survey on pages 2 and 3 and return it by Friday 16 June.

The results will be collated and a draft Community Master Plan prepared.

Copies will be available at Jamie Parker’s office  at 112a Glebe Point Road from Monday June 26

Our Community Master Plan will be finalised at a public meeting on Wednesday 12 July at 6pm at the Glebe Youth Service, 84 Glebe Point Road.

 

  COMMUNITY SURVEY

UrbanGrowth NSW, the government’s development agency, wants to redevelop the ‘Bays Market District’, which includes the Sydney Fish Market, land under the ANZAC Bridge along Bank Street in Pyrmont, connections to Wentworth Park and future water uses in Blackwattle Bay. (see map on page 4).

Tell us what you think:

  1. Which of these possible impacts of the new ‘Market District’ are you most concerned about? Circle up to 3.

Cutting down some of the trees that line Wentworth Park

Losing some green space in Wentworth Park

Wentworth Park being shaded by high rise on four sides

Increased risk of pollution into Blackwattle Bay

Problems parking/entering the water/foreshore and other amenities

Threat of fish markets noise/smell entering the school

Traffic and parking / lack of public transport

Other ……………………………………………………….

  1. Would you agree to high rise buildings (retail space below, private units above) on the old fish market site?

Yes / No

Other: ……………………………………………………….

  1. If high rise housing is built at the old Fish Market site, what percentage of affordable and social housing would you like to see included?

[UrbanGrowth wants to build private high rise apartments on the old Fish Market site and had said it will include 5% ‘affordable’ housing. They have no commitment to public housing]

5%              affordable housing                              Yes / No

20%            affordable housing                              Yes / No

5% public housing                                   Yes / No

20% public housing                                Yes / No

Other: (free text)

 

  1. Where would you prefer to see the fish markets moved from its current location?

To the old Bay Power Station (located on Rozelle’s foreshore)

Towards the school (current location of Hanson cement)

Towards the old Glebe Island Bridge

Somewhere else ……………………………………………………………

  1. What do you think should be done with the Hanson cement site?

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  1. What do you think about the idea of having a pedestrian bridge connecting Wentworth Park to the foreshore?

[UrbanGrowth talks about ‘connecting Wentworth Park with the new Bays Market District’. A pedestrian bridge over Bridge Road connecting the foreshore to Wentworth Park is one idea.]

I can live with it if it means the park is kept whole

No – don’t close any street near the market

Other ………………………………………………………………

  1. How would you like to see the location of the current Fish Markets and the area along Wentworth Park foreshore developed?

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

8           Do you use Wentworth Park now? If so, how much and what for?

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

Your details

Postcode …………………………………

Optional

Name ………………………………………

Email ……………………………………….

 

 

Tell us what you want

Please fill out the survey on pages 2 and 3 and/or reply on extra pages and return them by Friday June 16.

You can post them to

Jamie Parker MP, 112A Glebe Point Road, Glebe 2037

Hands off Glebe, Box 145, Glebe NSW 2037

You can drop them off at:

Jamie Parker’s office, 112a Glebe Pt Rd

IGA (near Commonwealth Bank) Glebe Point Road

Friendly Grocer (near Wigram Rd) Glebe Point Road

The Little Bottle Shop, cnr Forsyth Street and Glebe Point Road

Have a Chat Cafe, The Old Fire Station, 113 Mitchell Street

 

March 2017 Glebe Grapevine Issue

PUBLIC MEETING

Are you concerned about how the
Bays Precinct development
will affect us in Glebe?

 

Come to a discussion of the issues on

Wednesday May 3

6-8pm

Glebe Youth Service
184 Glebe Point Road, Glebe

Our local MP Jamie Parker will open proceedings with an overview, focusing on the Fish Market, Wentworth Park
and public housing

Then participants will have plenty of time for questions
and to present their own ideas

Organised by Hands off Glebe                                                                                                 Entry by donation

The Bays Market District

Did you know that UrbanGrowth NSW has called for urban designers to submit a master plan for the so-called Bays Market District which covers the Sydney Fish Market, land under the ANZAC Bridge along Bank Street Pyrmont, the first stage of a Bays Waterfront Promenade along Bank Street, connections to Went-worth Park and future water uses in Blackwattle Bay.

UrbanGrowth is a NSW Government State Owned Corporation which focusses on “large-scale urban transformation projects” – a developers’ paradise.

Fish Market:  The lease for the concrete plant on Bridge Road ends this year and apparently the Fish Market is to be redeveloped at this site.

There do not appear to be plans for public transport so presumably there will be a large area needed for parking.

With this, the introduction of fresh food sales as well as fish and the need for new wharves, will the new development be multistory? How much of the bay will it need to use for all these facilities?

It is worrying that all the noise and attractions of cafes and so forth will then be right next to the school.

Why not develop a city beach or some other community friendly use?

The old site will be redeveloped for housing but UrbanGrowth does not appear to have any policy on providing public and affordable housing.

Wentworth Park:  The future of our park is not clear. UrbanGrowth talks about “connecting Wentworth Park with the new Bays Market District” and “creating lovely connections from green open space to the new fresh food
marketplace”.

Given that Bridge Road will become even more crowded, does this mean overhead walkways? And if so, how many trees and how much green open space will we lose?

And what will happen to the homeless under the viaduct?

UrbanGrowth says they “could retain the land in public ownership” which means they are also considering privatisation, something we would need to fight so we can keep our park in public hands. Wentworth Park should stay as public land and be managed by the Sydney City Council.

Come to our public meeting on May 3 to discuss all these issues—see page 1 for details

Homes for Older Women

Older women should not be homeless in Australia. They deserve a better deal, one that recognises their contribution and respects their dignity.

It is not acceptable that there is no NSW Government priority to address the housing needs of older women, despite increasing evidence that the numbers who are homeless are growing.

Older women often are too poor to pay a mortgage, to pay market rents or even to find housing that works well for them – one bedroom accessible units close to transport and community facilities.

We want initiatives to help older women to be able to live in homes that are safe, secure and affordable. These include funding for the development of
affordable housing projects for older women and securing the financial
independence of older women.

For more information go to Homelessness NSW at admin@homelessnessnsw.org.au

———————————————————————————-

You can help make Sydney more affordable

The Greater Sydney Commission’s draft plans for Sydney will affect land use and development plans over the next four decades – particularly the chances for public and affordable housing.

We urge you to make a submission now, no matter how brief, at: www.greater.sydney/have-your-say.  Responses close 31 March.

If you want help, go to www.shelternsw.org.au

———————————————————————————-

Please Help

The Glebe Grapevine is the ONLY voice in Glebe consistently speaking out for public housing and against overdevelopment by wealthy, rapacious
developers and local and state government officials who seem to be held in their sway.

The Grapevine needs YOUR HELP to continue to stand against the greed of those who seek to change our suburb for THEIR OWN BENEFIT.

DONATIONS to enable us to keep printing can be sent to P.O. Box 145 Glebe 2037 or direct credit to BSB 659 000, Account no.755116, Account name: HANDS OFF GLEBE- GRAPEVINE

Help us tell these people: HANDS OFF GLEBE

 

Helps us tell these people:  HANDS OFF GLEBE!

 

 

 

WATCH OUT FOR THE IPART RENT REVIEW

The NSW Government has asked the Independent Pricing and Regulatory
Tribunal (IPART) to review  social and affordable housing rent s.

This review is part of the government’s Future Directions policy which stresses the need for public housing tenants to transition to the private rental market, what the government calls “housing independence”. IPART’s review is intended to find changes to rent setting and eligibility criteria for social housing to achieve these objectives.

It is a matter of real concern that IPART will examine models that allow variation according to housing affordability, different social housing tenant households and locational factors. “Locational factors” is code for where people live.

IPART will publish a draft report in March 2017, which will set out draft recommendations and invite comments. Public housing advocates need to be ready to comment on this draft report.

IPART says it will consider the comments before its final report in June 2017.

Are we “elegant” enough for Glebe?

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Domain section on 4 March proclaimed that a new “elegance” is coming to Glebe.

Who are these elegant people? According to Roxy (the developer) and the Domain, they are anyone who can afford to buy an apartment for $730,000 to $2.83 million on the former public housing estate bordered by Wentworth, Cowper and Queen Streets.

The development was called the ‘Glebe Affordable Housing Project’. All the public housing was bulldozed to make way for 25% public, 25% affordable and 50% private housing

The project was begun by an ALP government and has been continued by the O’Farrell, Baird and Berejiklian Liberal Governments.

The location is not far from the tents of the homeless who live in Wentworth Park.  The State Government is not interested in homelessness or housing affordability. Government housing policy is to look concerned about unaffordability and then to fan the housing market.

For a longer article on this issue see the website

 

 

 

March 2017

 

 

 

GG March 2017 corrected

Submission re Cowper St 2016

D/2016/1109

Address

28 Cowper Street GLEBE NSW 2037, 8 Elger Street GLEBE NSW 2037

 

DA Submission on behalf of the Hands off Glebe Group

 

Introduction:

It is well known to the Council that we have opposed this development from the start believing it to be an expression of the Government’s and to some degree the council’s abnegation of their duty to look after the housing of those in lower income groups.  We believe that spurred on by neo liberalism the Government is willing to sell every asset it can to the detriment of the people.  All that remains now is for us to modify the relentless motion to make as much money as possible and for the corporation involved to go on to their next heist.

 

While the whole project has been laughingly called the Glebe Affordable Housing Project this part of the project is the least affordable making it the section where the private owners can buy and the developer make a ‘killing’.  By the way in a nearby street in a private building people are paying $1200 a week for a modest flat who can pay these prices?

 

Size and Scale of the building

The building is not set back from the street but goes right up to the footpath making the building envelope far too big for the site.  We would urge that the building be set back from the street with some vegetation to break up the scale of the building.

There is no sympathy with the proposed development and the area to the west of Cowper Street. The proposed development will engulf the area, overshadow, overlook and generally oppress the existing residential habitus.

 

 

 

Heritage

We have read the heritage report with extreme disbelief as we see the consultants saying the development fits into the area very snugly or words to that effect.  How can a building such height be a good fit for the houses opposite?  These Victorian Terraces on West side of Cowper Street will be completely overwhelmed by this building.  While we are not asking for a 2016 version of Victorian Terraces we are asking for some consideration for the area and some decrease in size and scale so as not to overwhelm the other side of the street.

 

The Council talks of a city of villages and in particular developers talk about the Glebe Village ‘feel’ of the area yet time and time again the council allows the ‘stack em and pack em’ approach we are all too familiar with.  Our ‘village’ is about to become a canyon country with deep wind tunnels passing through our area with the laughable self-granted title by developers of sensitive development.  We call on the council to lessen these buildings along the lines of reasonable sensitivity to the area.

 

Traffic Report  ARUP TRANSPORT IMPACT ASSESSMENT

The traffic report seems extremely inaccurate with numbers of cars at certain times unbelievably low.  It does not take into account the school, the universities and the major Broadway shopping Centre which make for a constant flow of many cars for a major part of each day 7 days a week.  The traffic flow chart ignores the plea we put into the council a year ago.

 

see below

APPEAL BY GLEBE RESIDENTS

Stop traffic increases in Bay, Cowper and Wentworth Streets

To: The Lord Mayor and City of Sydney Councilors and to Central Sydney Planning Committee members

 

The new developments at Cowper Street and 87 Bay Street will bring 700 new apartments into our area, increasing traffic. Elger Street, which has been a dead end, will be pushed through to Bay Street. Wentworth Street will be widened and may become two way instead of the current one way street. These changes will bring a massive increase in traffic, especially during peak periods and holiday shopping times like Christmas for the Broadway Shopping Centre.

We call on City of Sydney and the Central Sydney Planning Committee to:

  1. Keep Wentworth Street one way between Cowper and Bay Streets
  2. Close Elger Street near Bay Street

 

Name …………………………………………………………………………………..

Address ………………………………………………………………………………..

……………………………………………………………………………………….….

Signature ………………………………………………………………………………

Please sign this letter and stand up for the peace and security that exists here at the moment. Increased traffic down these quiet streets will result in risk to the elderly and the very young.

We must not let new developments infringe on our community amenities and quality of life.

 

The Hands off Glebe group will collect these forms from those addresses and approach the City of Sydney and the Central Sydney Planning Committee.

 

 

The traffic report does not keep Elger a one way street or Wentworth St.  Instead it ignores the knock on effect of these streets once the developments are fully finished.  There will be a serious blockage at the end of Cowper St near Glebe Pt Rd, and there is the possibility of ‘rat runs’ moving a lot of traffic through otherwise peaceful streets upsetting the amenity of the residents of the Estate.

We call on council to impose a traffic plan for the benefit of the residents of Glebe rather than for the convenience of developers.

 

The modification of the plan

Normally modification indicates a lessening of something but in building terms it is an old trick to pack and stack as many units as possible in a limited space.  We have witnessed this technique of developers to come back to council for ‘modifications’ ie meaning more levels and higher buildings.  We call on council to reject this ‘modification’ and maintain the agreed to heights and numbers of units.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Signed   Denis Doherty for Hands off Glebe

FEDERAL ELECTION 2016 – EXTENDED COMMENTS ON HOUSING

JULY 2 2016 FEDERAL ELECTION

CANDIDATES FOR SEAT OF SYDNEY

 

FALANGA Ula                      Christian Democrats

BERRIMAN Mark                 Animal Justice

SPIKE Chris                         Sustainable Australia Party

WINTERS Geoffrey             Liberals

GEISER Tom                        Science Party

ELLSMORE Sylvie              Greens

BOYLE Peter                        Socialist Alliance

PLIBERSEK Tanya             Labor

LANNING Rebecca             Sex Party

TZORAS Tula                       Online Direct Democracy Party

____________________________________________________________

 

The following candidates were contacted and sent replies which are published in full below

 

WINTERS Geoffrey             Liberals

ELLSMORE Sylvie              Greens

BOYLE Peter                        Socialist Alliance

TZORAS Tula                       Online Direct Democracy Party

 

____________________________________________________________

 

The following candidates were contacted but did not reply

 

FALANGA Ula                      Christian Democrats

PLIBERSEK Tanya             Labor

 

____________________________________________________________

 

The following candidates had not nominated when the Glebe Grapevine sent out the questionnaire and were therefore not invited to respond to the questionnaire

 

BERRIMAN Mark                 Animal Justice

SPIKE Chris                         Sustainable Australia Party

GEISER Tom                        Science Party

LANNING Rebecca             Sex Party


 

Responses

Sylvie Ellsmore    Greens

The 16 year waiting list for public housing in NSW has been caused by under-investment by successive State and Territory Governments, who have not only failed to build sufficient new housing, but failed to maintain existing housing stock, creating a false sense of crisis and is being used as an argument that public housing is too expensive to maintain, and needs to be selectively sold off.

The Greens strongly support greater funding for public housing. Specifically, the Greens will reform negative gearing and removing capital gains tax discounts, and redirect the $6.8 billion estimated cost pa to increasing public housing and homeless services. It is possible to redirect this funding to provide housing for everyone on the public housing waiting list by 2030 – the Greens have costed plans available at http://greens.org.au/

The Glebe Estate has been a vital part of Glebe for generations, and must be protected. The Greens are proud to stand with residents in their campaign to protect against attempts to run down or sell public housing in Glebe. As someone who grew up in Glebe and whose family still lives here, I know first hand the valuable contribution that estate has made to making Glebe a strong community.

  1. It is a national disgrace that in Australia, as one of the richest nations in the world, 105,000 Australians don’t have a place to call home, and that more than a quarter are children under 18. Seventy percent of young people who end up homeless are fleeing domestic violence or family breakdown.

With most crisis refuges reliant on Federal funding, and only 6% of people seeking long term accommodation being housed, a key action to address homelessness is to significantly restore and expand Federal
funding for refuges, including specialist refuges to tailor for key groups at risk at homelessness including woman, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and young people. At the State level the Greens strongly opposed reforms which saw specialist women’s refugees become general services.

In addition to those noted above, federally the Greens housing proposals include:

– Doubling the federal funding for Specialist Homelessness Services under the original National Affordable Housing Agreement (and index the funding by 7%), at a cost of $507 million pa;
– Signing a new ten year National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness and double funding under the original agreement, at a cost of $320 million pa; and
-Reversing the cuts to the National Rental Affordability Scheme, which helps people on low incomes afford the extremely high rents in Sydney.

Obviously homelessness is a complex issue, and addressing homelessness also requires ensuring there are other adequate, publicly accessible social services for the inner city.

Also, for those living in housing stress who are at risk of homeless, most of whom are in the private rental market, the Greens support national standards to increase rights for renters, including protection for security of tenure, an end to no fault tenancy terminations and the generally capping of annual rent increases to CPI.

  1. As our city grows, it is important that new housing is built close to transport – which includes increased densities in the inner city. However, this must be sustainable, meaning that new development must be accompanied by infrastructure including new green spaces, child care centres, schools, public transport and other strategies to reduce car dependence.

Crucially, residents must have a genuine say about development in their local area. As a former Marrickville Councillor I was proud to both work to ensuring that new builds included genuine affordable housing where possible, and to stand with residents in campaigns against proposed over-development in the innerwest. Too often exceptions and concessions are given to large developers, with minimal requirements to give back to the community. In Glebe, the Greens were proud to stand with in their community campaign residents to win concessions at Harold Park, but we still have far to go to ensure our laws are guided by community needs and not developer greed.

The lack of ability for local Councils to enforce genuine affordable housing targets in new developments is out of step with other global cities like New York and London, and is helping drive housing unaffordability in Sydney. The Greens support a 30%-50% housing affordability target for large urban growth projects.

  1. I support a vacant property tax. Recent research shows inner city vacancies of rental properties is very high in inner Sydney – up to 14%. Despite a very tight housing market, tax incentives encourage some landlords to leave properties vacant. This must change. As part of our housing policies, the Greens have released a “convert to rent package” which includes incentives for landlords to convert vacant properties to low cost rental.

For more details about the Greens policies please see: http://greens.org.au/ or contact the campaign at sydney@nsw.greens.org.au
PETER BOYLE – SOCIALIST ALLIANCE

  1.      Do you support greater Federal funding for public housing?

 

Yes. The federal government needs to take major responsibility for infrastructure in all major cities because that is where most people live and it has the power to raise revenue though progressive income taxation.

 

Federal and state governments have been neglecting public infrastructure for decades because they believed that cutting social spending and increasing corporate handouts would be “good for the economy”. It didn’t work. The rich just got richer while our public services and infrastructure — including public housing stock — were run down and distorted.

 

Now, we have to catch up for these lost decades of privation.

 

A major federal investment in public housing is a key infrastructure need.

 

Sydney’s “housing market” might be producing big profits for developers, real estate agents and speculators, but it is failing to deliver affordable and quality housing.

 

More and more people – especially people with young families – are finding it impossible to afford to rent, let alone buy.

 

At least two generations have been denied the dream of owning their own home, while others have become debt slaves to try to pay off ridiculous mortgages.

 

Less than 1% of rental properties are affordable for low-income families in Sydney and the Illawarra, according to a study by Anglicare Sydney.

 

And the state of the lower-price rental housing on the market is shocking. They are total dumps!

 

There were nearly 60,000 on the waiting list for public housing last year in NSW. The Baird Coalition government has only promised to build 9000 new public housing dwellings over the next 25 years while continuing to sell off existing public housing stock.

 

This is a social disaster that the federal government needs to address.

 

We need to make housing a social right. We could build quality, ecologically sustainable and affordable housing at a fraction of the price that “the market” is demanding.

 

This is also part of the urgently needed infrastructure investment in addressing the climate change emergency.

 

  1.      How would you resolve homelessness in Glebe?

 

The preconditions for addressing homelessness in Glebe – and anywhere else – are: a. More affordable housing; b. More appropriate housing, addressing the special needs of many of the people who are currently homeless; and c. More appropriate social services, including mental health services, which are all currently facing cuts.

 

Once again, federal funding is needed to address these needs for the reasons I cited above.

 

  1.      What is your view on inner city housing density?

 

There is a social and environmental need to have more medium density housing in Sydney. However, under the current rules and regulations, big developers are having a field day and residents and communities are severely disempowered.

 

Driven by sheer greed, developers are trying to squeeze in as much high-rise housing and commercial buildings into inner city along key transport corridors.

 

Mirvac’s high-rise plans for the Pyrmont Shopping Centre re-development and the Central to Eveleigh precinct are examples of this. Another example is Deicorp’s plans for the historic Redfern Block. And who knows what other horrors are planned with the Waterloo public housing redevelopment?

 

The community is never told the full story, and what we are told often comes far too late for effective community response.

 

The rules and regulations favour the big developers and often the community has no real say at all.

 

As a general rule I favour a five-storey limit on all suburban, including inner-Sydney suburban, housing developments. This would cater to social well-being as well as the community’s need to preserve heritage and historical significance.

 

Relatively high housing densities have been reached in cities like Barcelona, with similar restrictions on high-rise building.

 

  1.      Do you agree with a vacant property tax?

 

Yes, a vacant property tax would play a useful role in reducing the high rate of vacant housing in Sydney.

 

According to a recent media report, 90,000 properties are left vacant across greater Sydney, with the vacancy rate as high as one in seven in some parts of the Sydney electorate.

 

This adds to housing shortages and lifts rents. Basically, speculators are “parking” money in vacant buildings and just waiting to rake in capital gains in a skyrocketing property market.

 

 

Biography for Peter Boyle, Socialist Alliance candidate for Sydney

 

I have lived in Sydney’s inner-west for 25 years and have raised two daughters in the area.

 

I have had a long involvement with the Aboriginal rights’ movement, especially in the campaign against deaths in custody and the struggle for land rights.

 

I have also been involved in protests to save public housing in Glebe, Millers Point and in Redfern.

 

I was one of the founding national convenors of the Socialist Alliance and I now co-convene the Sydney Central branch of the Socialist Alliance. I write regularly for the newspaper Green Left Weekly.

Tula Tzoras — Online Direct Democracy

  1. I personally support greater funding for public housing and we offer voters the opportunity to vote online taking the majority vote straight to Parliament.
  2. My view is that no one need be homeless in Australia. The Federal Government should make all property available and cap rental costs. People should not pay more than 30% of their income in rent. I have suffered having to move countless times due to no fault of my own. Housing is vital to one’s safety and wellbeing.
  3. The Sydney electorate is a densely populated area, with Westconnex weather, we can however control our waste and emissions by choosing public transport instead of cars, doing everything we can to keep the air we breathe as clean as possible.
  4. My own opinion is that vacant property should be put to use by housing the homeless. Otherwise yes I do support a vacant property tax. Of course my own views don’t matter as I represent the people.

 

Geoffrey Winters    Liberal Party

The coalition recognizes the shortage of housing in Australia is a serious social issue and the impact it is having, particularly on families and lower income earners.

The Turnbull Government is committed to a strong new economy, with a focus on creating jobs for all Australians.  Having a strong economy will ensure all Australians who can work, can gain employment.

The Turnbull Government provides a strong and targeted safety net to support Australians who are not working, spending $158.6 billion in 2016-17 (35per cent of the total government Budget).  Our safety net provides income support, rent assistance, rent assistance, and employment service support to try and help people back into work as soon as possible.

Labor cut funding for homelessness in their last budget, failing to make any provision for National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness after 30 June 2014.

The Turnbull Government has not only restored this funding, we have extended funding for the NPAH providing $115 million a year to State and Territories for a further two years.

Housing density and property taxes are matters that are responsibility of the state and territory governments.

 

March 2016 Grapevine

 

March 2016

click here for the pdf

GG March 2016

 

Action for Public Housing

 

A new organisation called Action for Public Housing was formed at a meeting in Sydney on Sunday 6 March.

With support from Glebe, Surry Hills, Waterloo, Miller’s Point, Manly, Maroubra, Illawarra, Marsfield, Coogee, and Botany, the meeting agreed there is an urgent need for a group to link all public housing tenants for a unified and strong voice against the proposal to sell public housing estates for private development.

The reality that average Australians — working, unemployed, students, aged, frail and disabled — will not be able to afford to live within 50 kms of Sydney is discrimination. Most have worked until retirement and are contributing as valuable members of the community.

Government has a duty to provide housing for those who cannot and should not have to pay exorbitant private rents, which are more than average Australians can afford. Soon only the extremely wealthy will be able to live in Sydney City and its surrounding suburbs.

It was a robust meeting, with time given to all to have a say. A Charter (email us for a copy—see contact details below) was adopted and the next meeting will plan actions.

Loud Fences in Glebe

Glebe’s Bidura House and Royleston stir up strong feelings.  Decades have passed since they ceased operating as homes for children taken into care by the State, but the hurt continues.

On 12 March, people gathered on the footpath outside Bidura. They tied dozens of bright ribbons on its front fence and signs declaring ‘No More Silence.’ The same was done at Royleston.

This was the Sydney launch of a campaign across cities from Rome to Ballarat, the Loud Fence Campaign in memory of victims and in support of survivors of childhood abuse in institutional care.

Sadly, just two days later, neighbours of Bidura woke to find the signs and ribbons cut down and strewn over the footpath.

Witnesses had seen a man harassing two women at the launch event. Was this his doing? Concerned residents phoned the security firm that patrols Bidura, but were told the firm’s job is to secure the buildings, not the fence.

Family and Community Services lease Bidura House. A spokesperson says they have no means of keeping watch after hours.

You could have heard a pin drop.

 

Glebe Residents Recognised

John Dengate, one of Australia’s most important folk singers, longtime Glebe resident, has been recognised posthumously by having a street named after him — Dengate Crescent in the suburb of Moncrieff, ACT.**

Gay Maley, Glebe resident and member of the Hands off Glebe committee is one of the greats of 1978 – the people who withstood massive police brutality at the first Mardi Gras in Sydney. We thank those brave people who withstood massive pressure to teach us a crucial lesson in tolerance.

 

Future Directions

NSW Government War on Public Housing

The NSW Government has announced a new policy on public housing called Future Directions. It is a ten year plan to privatise public property and public land and to allow the government to get rid of its responsibilities for public housing.

It is theft of public property to benefit developers and construction companies which will destroy communities and forcibly relocate public housing tenants.

Under Future Directions public housing estates will be bulldozed and handed over to private developers to rebuild with 70% private tenants and homeowners and 30% social housing tenants.

However the government says it will “aim for a 70:30 ratio of private to social housing”. So housing estates may be bulldozed and rebuilt by a private developer with no public housing at all.

And with only 30% public housing where it was 100% before, how can the government claim it will provide more public housing?

The government will start the process of getting rid of its responsibility to provide public housing by transferring 35% of public housing to community housing providers.

The Baird Government intends to increase private rental subsidies by 60% by 2025. This is intended to undermine public housing by pushing tenants into the insecure and extremely expensive private rental market – which many can’t afford even with a subsidy.

Future Directions introduces a bond of up to $1,400 for new public housing tenants. This can be paid over 3 years but where can most public housing tenants get this kind of money? The proposal will just increase the barriers faced by most disadvantaged families in our community.

 

 

Time for Unity

The Glebe Grapevine and Hands off Glebe Inc work to represent the interests of all of Glebe — not one end or the other but the whole of our suburb.

Glebe is under attack from greed and overdevelopment and the threat comes from the same enemy regardless of whether you live on the Glebe Estate or down at the point.

The beautiful heritage building Bidura was sold for $33 million to a private developer. The Glebe Grapevine objected to the sale and later ran a postcard campaign protesting against the planned overdevelopment overshadowing Bidura and wringing every conceivable dollar out of this precious site to the detriment of its beauty, heritage values, the nearby residents and the district.

Meanwhile, at the other end of Glebe, at Cowper Street public housing was destroyed and public land sold off. Public housing to be built on a small part of the site is largely inappropriate for elderly people who are destined to live in the tower blocks.

Cowper Street is just round the corner from a large number of people sleeping rough. Homelessness is growing yet the Baird Government is hell bent on privatising public housing. This is amazing callousness.

What unites these two issues?

The dominant theme here is that developers matter but residents do not. Money matters but humanity does not.

It is called greed, looking after the Government’s developer mates. It is called neo-liberalism — government hand outs for the wealthy and user pays for everyone else. This monster has a name and its name is Baird and his Liberal Government.

Since there is unity in the attack, our resistance should be united.

Glebe should continue to be for people from all walks of life and not just a few who happen to have huge disposable assets.

Let’s campaign together — owner occupiers, private housing tenants and public housing tenants united.

**

DENGATE CRESCENT, MONCRIEFF, ACT

GUNGAHLIN DISTRICT

The theme for Moncrieff is musicians and those associated with the field of music.

This Determination from Placenames, ACT Govt notifies of the following road names:

Dengate Crescent

Dulcie Holland Crescent

Jimmy Little Street

Schneider Lane

The selected names represent musicians and/or singers who have made a notable contribution to Australia in their respective fields of music.

John Dengate  1938-2013. Traditional folksinger and writer.

Resident of Glebe 1964-2013

For over sixty years, John  Dengate wrote songs and poetry about life in Australia . His performances reflected his deep interest in history, his humanity, his sense of humour and his irreverence. Most of these dealt with the political situation of the day and used the Australian idiom . Many used irony or were in satirical vein. John also wrote songs of deep compassion about his family and everyday Australians who battle through life.  He was best known for the performance of his songs of political comment at Folk Festival or playing traditional Australian tunes around the streets of Sydney. Because of the vast number of songs recorded  for the National Library archives and his contribution to Australian traditional music, John was called a ‘’national treasure’ when being introduced at folk festivals around Australia and even at Old Parliament House, in Canberra.

His books: My Shout and My Shout Again and John Shouts All the Way, sold out and have become collector’s items. His early songs, which were included on recordings with the Bush Music Club and Rebel Chorus and The Follies of Pollies; songs About the Australian Way of Strife and a two volume CD  John Dengate: Australian Son have long sold out, but recently a two volume CD  ‘Light Another Fire’  has been made.

This CD is dedicated to Henry Lawson and John Dengate, by Chloe and Jason Roweth. It  is available for purchase / download online from the Roweth’s website www.rowethmusic.com.au. Cost is $40 plus postage.

Further details:

Master of dissent: the music of John Dengate  by Tony Smith.   ABN: 90136 820 661

 

A model for Public Housing NSW

Housing: An Essential Service

Present Housing Issues:

  • Lack of secure and affordable housing impedes access to educational and employment opportunities for low to moderate income earners and students in job-rich areas.
  • Higher expenditure on transport infrastructure is then required to transport workers and students to their destinations, restricting labour market mobility.
  • Insufficient housing supply in job-rich areas (e.g., Inner Sydney) also pushes up house prices which are further accelerated by low interest rates and asset speculation.
  • Speculation on housing has contributed to the enormous rise in house prices. Over 90% of investor finance is for existing housing stock rather than new dwellings (ABS). The tax advantages of property ownership have grossly favoured higher (often older) income groups over those on lower incomes and non-owners.
  • Commitment by buyers to large mortgages commits large sections of the population to long term mortgage servitude which restricts their ability to access other goods and services.
  • Over commitment by lending institutions increases the risk of destabilising financial markets, particularly lending institutions.
  • Diversion of savings to mortgages and the over investment in private home ownership diverts resources from more productive uses.
  • Since 2008, while the cost of owner-occupied dwellings nation-wide rose by 18.6%, the cost of renting rose by almost 31%, nearly double the CPI. Government is failing to ensure an adequate supply of rental accommodation.
  • Australian cities are blessed with highly desirable precincts that with growing internationalisation are attracting foreign ownership, often to the disadvantage of resident non-property owners.
  • Older inner city areas lend our cities their unique character. There is a need to preserve and enhance the built environment in such areas. People don’t travel across the world, from interstate, or even across the city, to look at high-rise buildings.

The Rationale for Change – a New Model

We propose a rental-only housing model that would address these issues and would be largely self-financing in the long term. The current housing policies of both Liberal and Labor are based on an economic rationalist approach in which government housing assets are valued at current market value and sold off if their value is sufficiently high.

This is not a social policy; it is the government acting as a private investor playing with a large pool of assets.  But democratic governments are not created by society to play at being investors. They should invest in socially useful projects from which the whole society continues to benefit over time.

And, it should be noted, this so-called “rationalist” policy does not apply, for example, to most users of other government created assets. Commuters are not expected to pay the present cost of buying the land for and building say, Central Railway Station or the Harbour Bridge. Neither are visitors to state-owned libraries and art galleries, and nor should they as the public have paid for these in the past. But housing is as essential a service as health care. So why should it be treated as if the government, as a provider, is a private investor?

Instead, over time governments should maintain and expand housing supply as an essential service to meet social needs. These could be met through the revenue from a reasonable market-linked rental for those on good incomes to provide a surplus for cross-subsidising quality social housing for those on low incomes.

As with other long-held assets the average cost of each rental unit would reduce over time with only maintenance and expansion at the margin requiring funding.

A long-term scheme of this type could be likened to Medicare.  People pay as a proportion of their income during their working life and receive the same service in old age as a proportion of their pension or superannuation. If individuals wanted to take on the costs, risks and benefits of private ownership then that would be up to them but it should explore policy measures that equalise the option of either renting or buying such as offering a rebate on rent for non-home owners

Existing state-built housing could either be controlled directly by government or by suitable not-for-profit organisations. When the need for housing grew, additions to the total stock of housing for rent would largely be built by government near to areas of need using its existing land assets or where required by buying land. Rental properties could also be built by non-profit co-operatives. Of course investors could still build for rental but would now be in competition with a not-for-profit sector to provide housing for all income groups.

Funds to underwrite location-specific projects could be obtained from stamp duty and other state property taxes, as an ongoing income stream on a pro-rata basis. Governments, with access to historically low interest rates, could borrow on behalf of the administrators of rental co-operatives to build housing projects. Implicit in the above view is that we reject the idea that the sale of existing public housing be used as an ongoing source of funding.

 

The Model

We propose that suitable tracts of state owned land, particularly in inner-city areas (e.g.within Sydney’s Bays Precinct) be retained in public (or community housing) ownership and developed for rental accommodation across a wide range of tenant income levels, including tenants who are able to pay market rent in keeping with the policy of social mix.

The rents collected from those paying market rents would subsidise other social and affordable rental units as determined by the governing authority (Housing NSW or another suitable government or co-operative body).

The state would use its resources to administer and provide supplementary subsidies, where required, to the income of the rental housing enterprise with the main function being to ensure adequate maintenance.

Its finances and sound administration would be monitored by independent audit. While some housing enterprises might require ongoing state subsidies, others could become self-sustaining co-operatives that use rents to maintain flexible rental accommodation.

The Cowper Street example

In NSW, applied to the current Glebe Affordable Housing Development proposal in Cowper Street, Glebe, this model would divide the development into five blocks. The three blocks recently slated for sale would be retained in public ownership for rental purposes.  At Cowper Street:

  • All tenancies would be administered by Housing NSW or another suitable government or co-operative body reporting to the Minister for Housing.  All five blocks
  • They should include a mix of units of between one and three bedrooms and no greater than four storeys.
  • Tenancies in any unit should be available to all categories of tenant depending on need and availability. No distinction would be made between social, affordable or market rent units.
  • There must be a baseline for social and affordable units. In Cowper Street, at least 50% of the units should be available to Social Housing tenants, reflecting the nature of the longstanding community, and the government’s commitment to rehousing tenants displaced by demolition or sales of homes in inner city areas.
  • Tenants paying market and affordable rents will raise the level of revenue received above the present average for social housing. If the premises are transferred to a wholly government-owned corporation such as CityWest, tenants in receipt of Centrelink benefits may be entitled to rent assistance.
  • The affordable housing component would target workers who need to live close to places of employment or education in the area.
  • Cowper Street provides an opportunity to champion low-cost innovative sustainable design, in keeping with the heritage values of Glebe.

A competition could be held to produce a design that integrates with the surrounding cultural and built heritage environment.

Social Impacts

  • The scheme would allow access to housing without commitment to a lifetime of mortgage repayments. It would offer security of tenure, offering significant advantages in this over the private rental market.
  • The social assets created by relationships within established communities would be recognised as paramount rather than mere market value.
  • Access would be through a waiting list with tenancies offered on the basis of a formula that would maintain a proportion of market and affordable tenancies to support social housing tenants within the same project/complex.
  • The scheme would reduce the impulse to speculate on housing, an essential service.
  • Policies that equalise the benefits of renting with home ownership would also encourage such projects. Tax revenue saved by a cap on negative gearing (currently estimated to cost over $5 billion in lost revenue per annum) could finance tax concessions or rebates on rents.
  • In this model, common areas maintenance would be the responsibility of the renters’ co-operative and private interiors would be the responsibility of tenants and a small insurance premium would be part of their rent. Over time, rebates would accrue to those who do not claim and premiums may rise for those making higher than normal claims.

Conclusion

If applied widely and at sufficient scale, this model would reduce the burden on the public purse for each unit of social housing but without reducing the overall commitment to social housing.

It would also allow workers on moderate to low incomes to find suitable secure housing near their employment without committing to risks such as rising interest rates on large mortgages.

In NSW, by adding to the supply of affordable rental accommodation, the model addresses the housing shortage, without the NSW government losing valuable land, and without the decimation of existing communities.

With 16,000 new dwellings mooted for the city’s Bays Precinct, we believe that a significant portion of this new development should be reserved for housing along the lines of the model outlined above.

Without displacing the private rental market, the model introduces some genuine competition by providing secure and affordable tenancies for the wider public across a range of income levels.