The New South Wales Government is undertaking a number of initiatives to build new homes across the state and reduce the impact of the housing crisis. 

In New South Wales, housing affordability and availability are at their lowest levels in decades.

Even though New South Wales has the largest population, it is last on the east coast when it comes to housing completion.

Building approvals and construction activity have slowed while build costs have skyrocketed.

Rental vacancies are low and there are more than 55,000 people on the waitlist for social housing.

Within the week before releasing the discussion paper, two independent reports highlighted the magnitude of the housing crisis facing Australia’s most populous state.

The Productivity Commission reported that Sydney was at risk of becoming a city with no grandchildren if nothing is done to meaningfully address the housing crisis.

An analysis by Homelessness NSW showed that homelessness has risen across 58 of the state’s 128 local government areas in the past year alone.

The New South Wales Government has said that it is taking action to strike the right balance between supporting local communities, supporting the visitor economy and jobs, whilst addressing the homelessness, housing and rental crisis.

Discussion paper for Short-Term Rental Accommodation review

The State Government has released a discussion paper and is seeking community input which will inform a comprehensive review of Short-Term Rental Accommodation (STRA) in New South Wales.

Led by the New South Wales Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Rose Jackson, the four-week public consultation opened on 15 February with the release of a discussion paper and an online questionnaire.

Through this review the State Government will work with all stakeholders to ensure outcomes contribute meaningfully to increasing housing affordability, and stability in New South Wales. 

Specific feedback which will be sought and considered throughout this process includes:

  • The adequacy of the STRA planning and regulatory framework, and options for improvement
  • Potential policy options, including measures to incentivise property investors to make properties available for long-term rental accommodation

Whilst the review and potential reform of STRA alone is not a silver bullet, it is an important step towards fixing existing structural issues in the housing market.

All options are on the table in this review and the State Government said that it looks forward to seeing extensive feedback from industry as well as the community.

Regional Housing Strategic Planning Fund

Almost 24,000 new regional homes will be delivered sooner than planned after 16 councils secured nearly $3 million in funding from the New South Wales Government as part of the second round of the Regional Housing Strategic Planning Fund.

The fund will deliver grants of up to $250,000 to councils from the North Coast to the Central West and the Riverina.

Councils will use the funds to accelerate delivery of new homes in the regions through new housing strategies, preparation of infrastructure and servicing plans, and amendments to local environmental plans to bring forward the construction of more diverse and affordable housing.

Funding for Round 1 of the Regional Housing Strategic Planning Fund allocated $3.85 million to 20 projects from 19 councils. 

Port Stephens Council has delivered a collaboration with Homes NSW for the Raymond Terrace Sub-Precincts Master Plan to bring forward affordable housing supply in the area.

Another Port Stephens project was focused on barriers to development including drainage and local flooding, helping 500 homes in the Shoal Bay Precinct be more resilient to flood hazards.

Armidale Regional Council also received funding under Round 1 and has completed the development and implementation of its Local Housing Strategy.

Riverstone East and Schofields draft plans

A mix of more than 5,000 new and affordable homes could soon be built in Sydney’s North West, at Riverstone East and Schofields, with development proposals now open for public feedback.

The Riverstone East Stage 3 draft precinct plan proposes rezoning and planning control changes to deliver up to 3,600 homes, schools and supporting infrastructure. 

The plan includes zoning for more diverse housing, a ten per cent affordable housing target, a primary and high school, community centre, new road network to support buses and cyclists, and access to Tallawong and Riverstone stations. 

A separate draft plan at Schofields proposes a $500 million project to deliver 1,751 new homes, with 33 per cent to be allocated for affordable and Build to Rent housing for at least 15 years.

The plan also proposes changes to planning controls, increasing the maximum building heights from 16m to 32m, or approximately four storeys to eight.

The Schofields project is a state-assessed planning proposal which includes 6.3ha of land for medium density housing at Railway Terrace. It’s one of five to be assessed as part of the Rezoning Pathways Program which aims to increase housing supply and diversity in New South Wales.

The draft plans for Riverstone East and Schofields will be on public exhibition until 14 March 2023.

New South Wales Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Paul Scully, said that the government is hoping to better balance housing availability for the people of New South Wales with the benefits that tourism brings to local communities.

“We’re in a housing crisis, so it’s important we look at every available option to boost housing supply, including a shift from non-hosted short-term rentals to long term rentals,” Minister Scully said. 

New South Wales Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Rose Jackson, said that all options are on the table and the government is keen to hear from the community on how various aspects of regulatory and revenue measures can be designed to get the best outcome.

“This review will inform our approach to make better use of all forms of housing, including short term rentals, vacant property and holiday homes,” Minister Jackson said. 

“This includes looking at ways to move some of this housing to the long-term rental market and to minimise its negative impacts on the housing market as well as what we can do to support homelessness services across New South Wales.”

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