City of Newcastle has begun exploring options for affordable housing as part of the implementation of its Local Housing Strategy, a plan which will deliver social housing across Newcastle over the next 20 years.

The Local Housing Strategy will cater for a growing and ageing population. Photo source: City of Newcastle

Tenders are being invited from suitable organisations, including community housing providers, to conduct a feasibility study into the delivery of affordable housing on sites owned by City of Newcastle. 

Newcastle Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes, said with the rising cost of living pressures and a rapidly increasing population it was important to ensure Newcastle’s housing reflected the needs and preferences of the community. 

“Housing affordability in Newcastle is at or very near to crisis point, with data showing there are more than 10,000 families suffering from housing stress across the city,” Cr Nelmes said.

“The Newcastle Local Housing Strategy considers demographics, housing supply and demand, as well as land use opportunities and constraints.”

Forecasts show the Newcastle Local Government Area’s population is set to grow by 41,150 residents to 202,050 by 2041, which will stimulate demand for almost 20,000 new dwellings.  

Research has also shown that one in three Newcastle households have an annual income of less than $48,000 and a further 33 per cent suffer housing stress, which is when more than 30 per cent of income is spent on housing.  

Cr Nelmes said City of Newcastle was committed to increasing the range and supply of housing to meet the needs of the growing community.

“A need to increase the supply of affordable rental housing has been identified as a priority in the strategy, which is why we are partnering with the NSW Government on a landmark Memorandum of Understanding that will increase the range and supply of social housing in Newcastle,” Cr Nelmes said.

“Separately to that arrangement, we have also invited tenders from suitably qualified property consultants, community housing providers and developers for an affordable housing feasibility study.

“The tender will investigate models for the ownership, operation and delivery of affordable housing on CN-owned sites including land with existing buildings and usage, or vacant land.”

Cr Nelmes said this would allow council to explore all possible options, including potential funding streams, to ensure the provision of affordable, accessible and sustainable housing in the city. 

The successful tender would need to identify how City of Newcastle could incorporate multi-purpose community spaces into any affordable housing designs proposed in the study, helping to deliver broader benefits for future residents and the community.

The study is in line with priority actions in the community-endorsed Local Housing Strategy adopted by City of Newcastle in November 2020.

The strategy identified that an ageing population, as well as young adult students and workers, would drive demand for rental housing, making the availability and affordability of rental accommodation an important consideration for urban planning.

Maia O’Connor

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