Social Sydney: City of Sydney green-lights housing projects

Two new social housing buildings have secured development approval from the City of Sydney as planners aim to take advantage of a COVID-depressed development market to deliver long-term affordable housing stock.

The dual-building proposal, located at 17-31 Cowper Street and 2A-2D Wentworth Park Road in Glebe, will comprise a total of 74 apartments, with the northern building accommodating social housing and the southern building market housing.


The site, owned by the NSW government’s Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC), currently provides 19 social housing dwellings across two-storey townhouses.

The proposed planning controls for the site will increase maximum building height, to 8-storeys each, as well as an increase in floor space ratio plus ground floor non-residential spaces

The project will now move forward with a new concept designed by Sydney-based Johnson Pilton Walker following a design competition.

Both buildings have been designed around a central core, with ventilated lobbies linking five dwellings per floor. The rooftops of buildings will be given over to communal space, with the southern building having 260sq m of communal allowance and the northern building 215 square metres.

Last year, the UNSW City Futures Research Centre and Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) identified an urgent need for an additional one million affordable and social housing dwellings by 2036.

With a current deficit of 650,000 homes, the coronavirus crisis has now exacerbated the need for a renewed focus on low-income housing due to slowing homeownership, weakening household spending and a steep rise in unemployment.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore says that the council was using every opportunity to rebuild public housing stock at a time of great need. “The pandemic has intensified Sydney’s housing and homelessness crisis, creating an even more pressing need for social housing in the inner city.”

To boost supply, LAHC began discussions in May to make the most of the present downturn, calling on dormant commercial builders to resupply some of the 125,000 dwellings that comprise the state’s unmet public housing stock.

It is also hoping to show that good-quality medium-density homes can be built in established suburbs of Sydney.

Images Johnson Pilton Walker via Urban Developer

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