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Adam Haddow comments on new NSW housing manifesto

The AIA NSW Chapter President reacts to a recent announcement by the Minns state government aimed at tackling the housing crisis.

Adam Haddow comments on new NSW housing manifesto

Ashbury Terraces, designed by SJB and aimed at the "missing middle" in housing density.

The NSW Government has officially announced a suite of plans to combat the state’s housing crisis head on, with 185,000 homes to be created via changes to zoning and planning rules, developer concessions and the alteration of the future Metro West line.

Premier Chris Minns spoke at a press conference alongside a number of his front-benchers to unveil the plan in full. 39 well-located areas across Greater Sydney, the Hunter, Illawarra and other regions will become the subject of high-density developments, with eight of these sites – Bankstown, Bays West (master plan concept pictured), Bella Vista, Crows Nest, Homebush, Hornsby, Kellyville and Macquarie Park – labelled as priority precincts.

The priority precincts will see a 1200-metre radius surrounding railway stations rezoned by the government to allow for high-density development, with 15 per cent of said development to be dedicated to affordable housing. It is estimated that the eight zones, which will also be classed as special entertainment areas, will provide 47,800 homes by 2027.

The remaining 31 – where a 400 metre radius around train stations including Gosford, Wyong, North Wollongong and Hamilton will be enacted – will see height limits increased, while the government has pledged $520 million to deliver infrastructure and public amenity infrastructure, including parks, pathways and active transport infrastructure.

“For the first time, the city is marrying public transport infrastructure with new housing. We cannot have a situation like we’ve had for the last decade with brand new housing and no infrastructure,” Premier Chris Minns says.

“Today we’re biting the bullet and building future housing for Sydney’s needs.”

To boost the statistic of just six houses per 1,000 people every 12 months in Sydney, property developers will be given two years to submit development proposals to combat stockpiling of land once sites are acquired. Unnamed incentives were also mentioned by the government at the press conference. 

President of the Australian Institute of Architects’ NSW Chapter and SJB Founder Adam Haddow believes the announcements are promising for the current and future people of Sydney.

Related: The “missing middle” and housing density

Adam Haddow, pictured as part of Your Moment INDESIGN.
Award-winning 19 Waterloo Street by SJB, photograph by Anson Smart.

“It’s refreshing that a government is interested in solving the housing crisis, trying to find solutions. We’re at a turning point,” he says. 

“Sydney is a highly desirable city. A lot of people who want to live here. What’s starting to happen is the need for people to sleep rough. We’ve got to find more housing, make it more affordable. This has to be shared by government and the private sector. We need more social housing, affordable housing, and new public housing. It’s good that they’re focused on doing something.”

Haddow is enthused by the prospect of NSW and Australia’s best and brightest architects designing and delivering first-rate housing for Sydneysiders.

“Architects are best placed to deliver high-quality housing. We’re educated around it, understand the challenges, and can balance conflicting issues. Our profession is well-versed in it, and we’ll deliver some of the best housing in the world. 

“What is important is a stable government with a clear agenda and priorities. You don’t want a government that changes its mind every five minutes. The more precise and direct the government can be around these initiatives, the better. The development industry is more likely to act on it directly and immediately. The general public also has to be engaged in the discussion.

“The challenge for the community, beyond the architectural industry, is about changing our mindset. If we want houses for our families, friends, and relatives, and to live equitably, we must shift our mindset from how this will be bad or good. It’s a big mindset change, but we must do it for the outcomes we all deserve.”

The Minns Government confirmed it had reached a Memorandum of Understanding with the Australian Turf Club to redevelop the current Rosehill Racecourse into a 25,000-dwelling ‘mini city’. A new Metro West station will also be created at Rosehill, while the Turf Club will relocate the course elsewhere with a significant windfall, estimated to land at approximately $5 billion.

We think you might also like this story on questions of density at the Victorian Architecture Awards.

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