A new report by the City Futures Research Centre, UNSW Sydney that was commissioned by the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) has found that the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 (ARHSEPP) has delivered little genuinely affordable rental housing, particularly for very-low and low-income households since it was introduced.

The report, which focused on the dwellings delivered under the ARHSEPP in Southern and Central Sydney, found that very few approved additional dwellings were offered as private rental as most appear to accommodate larger or more complex households.

ARHSEPP was designed to facilitate the private development of more diverse and affordable rental housing options in the private market, but there has been very little monitoring of the outcomes of this policy to understand if the policy has been successful, either in the SSROC region or across New South Wales.

The findings of the report suggest that the provisions are having little impact on achieving more affordable housing in most of the SSROC region, and that over the longer term the ARHSEPP needs to be integrated within a broader affordable housing strategy, and more explicitly linked to supporting the delivery of local affordable housing targets required as part of the Greater Sydney Region Plan.

SSROC President, Cr John Faker said “this report is hugely important in understanding the real impacts of ARHSEPP in the SSROC region where there is great need for affordable housing. Finally, we have a clearer snapshot that this policy is not providing the affordable housing that Sydney so much needs.”

Director of City Futures Research Centre, Professor Bill Randolph, said “the results strongly suggest that the ARHSEPP is not fit for purpose and needs to be replaced by new provisions that provide affordable rental options for low-income households.”

Dr Laurence Troy, lead author of the report said that “while the ARHSEPP has delivered large numbers of dwellings across central and southern Sydney, it appears that many of the provisions are being used to circumvent other development controls, such as apartment design standards and dwelling mix, rather than deliver genuinely affordable rental housing. It is also not clear that these new secondary dwellings and boarding rooms are being counted as part of the growing stock of housing. So, we are adding considerable pressure to parts of Sydney without properly planning for wider infrastructure and community services.”

SSROC General Manager, Namoi Dougall said “SSROC covers a third of the Greater Sydney Region’s population, with over 1.7 million people calling it their home. This report is vital to our 11 SSROC councils as they continue to plan for the future and try to meet the ongoing demands of providing genuinely affordable housing.”

The key findings of the report Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 and affordable housing in Central and Southern Sydney are summarised below:

Secondary Dwellings

  • Over 8,000 were approved across the SSROC region in the decade to June 2017
  • At nearly 2,000 approvals, growth in 2015/16 was six times higher than the year before the ARHSEPP began
  • Over half were in Canterbury-Bankstown
  • Secondary dwelling approvals represented around 1 in 12 new dwellings built in the decade to 2016
  • Rents were marginally higher than comparable dwellings in each area
  • Very few appear to have formally entered the private rental market
  • Provisions of the ARHSEPP appear most likely to facilitate additions to an existing dwelling to accommodate larger or more complex household types

Boarding Houses

  • Nearly 300 new boarding houses were approved across the SSROC region since the SEPP began, with a median size of 16 rooms
  • Over 9,000 new boarding rooms were approved (including through expansions of existing boarding houses)
  • Nearly two thirds of the rooms were in the City of Sydney
  • Over half of the rooms were targeted student accommodation, concentrated around the universities
  • Rooms were only marginally cheaper than 1-bed units near the universities, but 20-40% cheaper elsewhere
  • Provisions of the ARHSEPP appear to have been used to circumvent the requirements of the Apartment Design Guide that apply to other residential flat buildings and which would have offered more diversity in terms of tenure and unit size

Infill Affordable Housing

  • Preliminary estimates suggest the provisions are having little impact in most parts of the SSROC region
  • The exception to this is Canterbury-Bankstown, where many developments using this provision are eligible for the density bonus even when delivering a premium market product

Media Enquiries: Kate Hannan | 0434 133 228 | kate.hannan@ssroccline.mysites.io

Download: Report casts doubts on Sydney’s flagship affordable housing planning policy media release