The Sydney affordable housing crisis.
“Urban release”, “urban renewal” and “affordable housing” are popular buzz words encompassing a range of policies. These policies are designed to accommodate a growing population in affordable housing near infrastructure and are an attempt to free up existing housing stock.
Whilst initially slow in coming to the Northern Beaches, the effect of these policies are starting to be felt and have been kick-started by the new Northern Beaches Hospital.
First, the aim of urban release and affordable housing is to provide affordable rental opportunities. Affordable housing includes granny flats, boarding houses, social housing and supportive accommodation. Incentives include expanded zoning permissibility, floor space ratio bonuses and non-discretionary development standards.
Second, the aim of urban renewal, launched in part 10 of the SSMA 2015, is to encourage Owners Corporations of small and ageing unit blocks to apply to the Land & Environment Court for a collective sale (or redevelopment) order on just a 75% vote of owners.
Granny flats development approval on the Northern Beaches
A granny flat is a self contained dwelling built on the same block of land as a principal dwelling. Granny flats cannot be sold separately and the cost is added to the principal property.
Granny flats are extremely popular on the Northern Beaches and can be approved quickly by either the Council or an Accredited Certifier as longs as they meet the Complying Development Provisions in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 (AHSEPP).
Although roof terraces and basements are not permitted and the floor areas (excluding decks) are restricted to 60 sqm, the granny flat itself can include 2 bedrooms, a separate kitchen, a lounge/dining area and a separate bathroom. Consent cannot be with held if the site is 450 m2 and even if no parking is offered. AHSEPP does not override bush fire or flood planning requirements.
Risks of granny flat development include potential capital gains tax on sale, creating a backyard eyesore and the potential effect on benefit payment.
Boarding house development approval on the Northern Beaches
Of less popularity on the Northern Beaches are boarding houses with proposals being met with stiff opposition from both the community and councillors.
A boarding house is a series of rooms in a property, each limited to two adults. Private bathrooms and kitchens are not compulsory although a communal living room is required where there are 5 rooms or more.
Recent rulings from Northern Beaches Council
In December 2017, Northern Beaches Council rejected an application for 378 studios for nurses and medical key workers. The proposal included 19 communal recreation rooms, landscaped terraces with herb and vegetable gardens, parking for 144 motorcycles, cars and bicycles, and a shuttle bus to and from the hospital for shift times. On 27 February Council rejected an application for 840 units (including 105 affordable housing units), 15,000 of retail/commercial use and a 8,000 m2 hotel.
Clarification on the applications is likely after consideration by the Land & Environment Court.
Do you need assistance with a Northern Beaches building approval?
Clare Peacock is an experienced construction lawyer working on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Clare provides practical, cost-effective building approval advice to property owners, builders and strata managers. Services include residential building disputes, body corporate issues and strata building problems.