Inner West Council – planning together for a better Sydney roundtable 7th March 2018

The newly amalgamated Inner West Council in Sydney brought together a range of stakeholders for a planning roundtable this week.  The Federation has worked with IWC over the course of several months to support and encourage Council in their development of a series of affordable housing initiatives.  IWC have taken commendable steps to promote affordable housing in their area, including developing an Affordable Housing Policy  and a paper on the issues around Value Capture Best Practice in Value Capture 

IWC have also applied for an extension to SEPP 70 to enable the levying of mandatory affordable housing contributions and set an affordable housing target of 15% for developments with a gross floor area of 1700 m2 or greater, and seek 30% affordable housing on their own land.
So it was with interest that the Federation and sector representatives attended IWC’s planning roundtable. The conversation was very wide ranging and covered interests and priorities from the airport to the economic value of industrial land. Key affordable housing points made were:
Sydney’s pace of growth – the city is expected to reach a population of 8 million by 2046 – 10 years earlier than previously projected. Sydney is growing faster than any other top 10 global cities.
Gentrification in IWC is leading to less diversity and the exclusion of people on low incomes and those dependent on public and social housing, including Aboriginal people and the roundtable acknowledged the huge pressures on affordable housing in the area.

The roundtable returned frequently to a number of themes – the need for placed based planning, a community led bottom up approach and with calls for resistance to the silo led government agencies (with RMS getting a particular Guernsey in this context). The silo based agencies fulfil their briefs but may not be aware of the evidence of different modes of working that take a community wide and city wide view (rather than thinking about the speed of traffic flow, for example).
Another are where Council was urged to push back was around Treasury’s insistence on highest and best value in its land dealings, as this leads to many lost opportunities. Some advocated an approach which measures and prioritises wider benefits and included the value of open space and culture and argued that “Net Community Benefit” should be examined at the DA stage.

Rik Hart, IWC General Manager, included a call for practical suggestions about how IWC could deliver the ambitious and varied plans suggested by participants. Two suggestions from the sector were to utilise value capture more effectively and to understand the development equation better – for example major developers will build with 35% inclusionary zoning when required – developers understand the process and factor the costs into a lower land price.