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Bays West Development faces criticism over a lack of affordable housing

Bays West

The Bays West development draft plan has come under fire for a lack of social and affordable housing. Photo: NSW government.


The Bays West development has come under fire after The Greens, as well as a key NSW housing advocacy group, have criticised a lack of affordable housing included in the stage 1 draft master plan.

As community submissions for the development located next to the White Bay Cruise Passenger Terminal in Glebe are under review, The Greens are calling on the government to include social housing in the “highly significant Inner West public site”.

In May when the plan was up for public exhibition, Minister for Infrastructure, Cities, Active Transport Rob Stokes announced that 250 dwellings were outlined in the plans, which included affordable housing.

Bays West

Artists impression of the scope of the new Bay’s West development. Photo: NSW government.

“This project will balance the needs of the local community and industry, with housing and jobs” Stokes said.

However, a statement from the Greens note that there is “no mandated social or affordable housing” included in the draft plan. They say that including social housing in the development is an “important opportunity to grow the state’s public housing portfolio without demolishing existing homes”.

The master plan for the Bays West Precinct acknowledges that the NSW Department of Planning and the Environment received community feedback about the opportunity to include social and affordable housing in the development.

Under ‘community and stakeholder engagement’ a quote from a ‘peak body’ is included:

“Government ownership of much of the land in the Precinct offers a real opportunity to deliver high levels of social and affordable housing. However, as outlined in this submission, further work is needed to fully consider how adequate provision will be secured” the submission reads.

The Greens note that currently over 10,000 people have been approved for social housing, and are waiting to be housed 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”.

A spokesperson from the Department of Planning and Environment said to City Hub that they “are working on an updated master plan and a rezoning package for Bays West Stage 1”.

“These plans have responded to feedback received from the community in May this year. The plans will be released again for further feedback in coming weeks.”

Greens call out Inner West Council decision

Earlier in the year, Inner West Council Labor Councillors voted against an amendment tabled at June Council meeting to include a requirement for a minimum of 30% social housing in the plan for Bays West. Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne and Labor Councillor Chloe Smith proposed a motion that endorses a council submission calling for a 15% affordable housing levy.

The Greens have criticised the Labor-led decision for a “15% levy on the site for affordable housing elsewhere”, rather than requiring that 30% of the site be social and affordable housing, as tabled by Greens Councillor Kobi Shetty and Independent John Stamolis.

The Greens maintain that this would “raise funds that could add to Council’s current portfolio of 19 affordable housing dwelling”, but “would deliver no new social or affordable homes within the huge Bays West precinct”.

The rejected amendment also included points to inform NSW government about “unrealistic” private transportation targets, as well as a recommendation that council “does not support” the 22 story height of the development.

Shelter NSW gives recommendation for housing

Housing advocacy organisation Shelter NSW has also expressed concerns over a lack of affordable housing options in the plans. The group put forward a submission to the draft 1 master plans for Bays West outlining issues with the project, in relation to housing needs.

Shelter NSW said in the submission that “these projects facilitate gentrification, and result in the dislocation of lower-income workers”. They maintain that lower-paid workers who likely will be employed on the site will be heavily affected by the lack of affordable housing options.

Shelter NSW additionally noted that the plan does not refer to an affordable housing target, despite having “clear targets” for infrastructure, heritage, and open space, as well as targets for gross floor areas aimed at residential, community and commercial use.

Shelter NSW have criticised the absence of such a target, given that the plan contravenes the Eastern City District Plan’s requirement for a 10% Affordable Housing levy on all Government-owned sites.

The group have recommended that a “minimum 15% affordable housing levy be required on all residential, commercial, and retail gross floor areas within the Bays West Master Plan precinct”.

Community and resident groups have been speaking out against the plans since the first glimpse of the project was announced in 2014. City Hub reported that The Glebe Society and the Rozelle Residents Action Group had fears the massive development would be “Barangaroo’ed”, referring to a lack of community consultation on another inner-city development.

The Bays West development will include new housing and employment spaces, with a third of the development being dedicated to public open space. It will connect with the new Sydney West Metro line running from the CBD to Parramatta through a new station which will be called ‘The Bays’.

Bays West Metro

Artists impression of the Bays West Metro station. Photo: NSW government.

The draft plans for the Bays West Development are currently under review, and will be finalised in mid 2022.

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