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The Northern Beaches is one of Sydney’s most beautiful but least affordable areas to live, which puts stress on individual households and has a significant impact on attracting key workers to the area. Council is working with all levels of government to deal with this complex challenge.

What is Affordable Housing?

Affordable housing is about having a range of housing options people can afford without causing them difficulty in purchasing other necessities. A common measure is not having to spend more than 30% of a person’s income per week.

Affordable housing can take any form, including single dwelling houses, granny flats, units, boarding houses, shared accommodation or social housing. 

What is Council Doing About Housing Affordability?

Council’s Affordable Housing Policy proposes working more closely with the State and Federal government to find solutions, waive section 94A development contributions for any part of a development proposal with affordable rental housing and to establish clear targets for affordable housing.

Local Strategic Planning Statement

Councils Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSPS), contains a number of principles and actions in relation to social and affordable housing, including seeking a minimum of 10 per cent affordable rental housing to be included in new planning proposals, consistent with Council’s existing Affordable Housing Policy.

Local Housing Strategy

Council is developing a Local Housing Strategy (LHS) which outlines how and where future housing will be delivered to meet our community's needs over the next 20 years. Part of this work includes undertaking an affordable housing needs analysis and to explore mechanisms to deliver more affordable market-based housing.

Council has also prepared a Affordable Housing Contribution Scheme and Affordable Housing Tenancy Guidelines.

Affordable Housing Contribution Scheme

A key element goal of Council’s Affordable Housing Policy was the inclusion of the Northern Beaches Local Government Area (LGA) in State Environmental Planning Policy No.70 (SEPP70), which was achieved in April 2018.

SEPP 70 identifies the need for affordable housing across the whole of the state, describes the kinds of households for which affordable housing may be provided, and establishes requirements for the imposition of conditions of consent relating to the provision of affordable housing.

SEPP 70 enables Councils to include affordable rental housing requirements in Local Environmental Plans (LEPs) in areas subject to zoning “uplift” through an affordable housing contribution scheme.

Following this, in February 2019, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) finalised guidelines for developing an Affordable Housing Contribution Scheme. This allowed all Councils in the state to develop affordable rental housing programs under SEPP 70.

Council developed a draft Affordable Housing Contribution Scheme which will allow Council to collect developer contributions to provide affordable housing either as complete dwellings or as an equivalent monetary contribution on the Northern Beaches.

The draft scheme was exhibited concurrently with the DPIE exhibition of the draft Frenchs Forest 2041 Place Strategy, draft planning controls (Explanation of Intended Effect) and associated technical studies and Council exhibited draft amendments to Warringah Development Control plan 2011 (draft DCP amendments) and the draft Northern Beaches Affordable Housing Tenancy Guidelines (see below). 

The draft scheme will apply initially to the Frenchs Forest Planned Precinct, an affordable housing target of 15 percent is proposed for the town centre, and 10 percent for other areas (except land at Karingal Crescent). The draft scheme also applies to a site-specific planning proposal at Narrabeen. However may be extended to other areas that are rezoned or are subject to increases in residential density in the future. Each area will be subject to a separate feasibility analysis to determine the required contribution rate. The Scheme (and Tenancy Guidelines) were endorsed by Council at its meeting of 28 September 2021.

13 Submissions were received for the draft scheme and guidelines. The main issues raised included:

  • the eligibility criteria in the draft Tenancy Guidelines (including the types of employment, proximity of employment and length of stay for tenants).
  • over-population on the Northern Beaches and its impact on living standards for existing residents.
  • the feasibility of affordable housing contribution rates. This report recommends adoption of the draft Affordable Housing Contributions Scheme without change and adoption of the draft Tenancy Guidelines with an amendment to remove the requirement that all tenants must be 'permanently' employed to access the scheme.

A full engagement report on the exhibition of the draft Frenchs Forest 2041 Place Strategy will be made available in 2022, along with the adoption of the Warringah Development Control Plan (DCP) amendments.

The Affordable Housing Contributions Scheme was endorsed by the Department of Planning and Environment on 8 April 2022

Affordable Housing Tenancy Guidelines

The Tenancy Guidelines provide further information outlining how affordable housing properties that Council may receive under the Scheme are allocated and managed. It also sets out criteria for eligibility, rent, management of waiting lists and asset management. 

These guidelines have been developed and were exhibited as part of the draft Frenchs Forest 2041 Place Strategy (see above).

The objective of Affordable Housing Tenancy Guidelines is to outline the requirements for the allocation and management of tenancies for properties within the Northern Beaches Council Affordable Housing Portfolio. It also sets out criteria for eligibility, rent, management of waiting lists and asset management.

It is intended the full cost of the program, including day-to-day property and cyclical maintenance, tenancy management, administration fees and major upgrading works is fully covered by rent revenue collected by the Housing Manager (Council or its nominated agent).

The Tenancy Guidelines were endorsed by Council at its meeting of 28 September 2021.

Affordable Housing on any Council-owned Land

Any proposals for the redevelopment of Council-owned property will be assessed and considered against the directions in the LHS in the same way as proposals for private land.

Once Council has obtained affordable housing stock it will tender for a Community Housing Provider to manage and deliver affordable rental housing.

NSW Government proposed housing reforms

In February 2024, Council made a submission to the NSW Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure in relation to proposed reforms in the Explanation of Intended Effect: Changes to create low and mid-rise housing. In it Council acknowledges the need for urgent action on housing and supports a centres-based approach to growth but raises a wide range of issues with the government’s proposal. If implemented as proposed the reforms will significantly impact the LGA and as such Council is continuing to advocate for local government led planning.

Read media release: One size does not fit all: calls to scrap housing density reforms  
Read full Council submission 

Contact information

Strategic and Place Planning team

Information sessions: NSW Government proposed low and mid-rise housing reforms

Join one of our upcoming events to learn more about the NSW government's proposals, and how they will affect your...

Medium size housing