Greens statement on housing in the Bays West draft master plan

The Greens response to the The Department of Planning and Environment’s draft master plan for Stage 1 of the Bays West development, which includes the White Bay Power Station (and Metro) sub-precinct and the Robert Street sub-precinct.

The Greens call on the NSW government to include social and affordable housing on this highly significant Inner West public site.

The draft master plan for the Bays West Stage 1 Master Plan proposes up to 250 homes on this site with no mandated social or affordable housing. Over 80% of the site is commercial floorspace so there is opportunity to increase the housing component to allow for social and affordable housing. We expect there will be a higher proportion of residential development in future stages, making this an important opportunity to grow the state’s public housing portfolio without demolishing existing homes as occurs with the Government’s Communities Plus model.

We know the private market isn’t solving the now decades-long housing crisis and the NSW government needs to urgently intervene. More multimillion-dollar apartments by the harbour will do nothing to address affordability and at a minimum, any development of public land should include ambitious plans for social and affordable housing.

Right now there are over 100,000 people approved and waiting for social housing in NSW. The developments associated with the Bays West sub-precincts provide a critical opportunity to help reduce the shortfall and ensure a community that is genuinely diverse. The lack of social housing in the proposal is a major shortcoming of this project.

Providing new affordable homes for people with disabilities, minimum wage, essential workers and people with low incomes is critical given the chronic lack of affordable housing in the inner west and inner city and in close proximity to public transport. This social mix will ensure that we’re building communities and infrastructure for everyone - just a short distance from a new Metro station.

We note that Greens Councillors sought to amend the Inner West Council’s Submission to the proposed Bays West Master Plan at their meeting on June 14th, to call for a minimum 30% of the residential development on the site to be social and affordable housing. This amendment was rejected by the Labor-led Council which instead amended the Council officer’s initial recommendation for council-owned, community-managed affordable housing on the site, asking instead for a 15% levy on the site for affordable housing elsewhere.

Such a levy would raise funds that could add to Council’s current portfolio of 19 affordable housing dwellings elsewhere in the LGA but would deliver no new social or affordable homes within the huge Bays West precinct. This would exclude low income renters from the area and turn this publicly owned harbourside land into yet another enclave for the rich.

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