DevelopmentHousingNewsWaterloo redevelopment

Build-to-rent model sparking community interest

In July, Minister for Social Housing Pru Goward announced that the Redfern Communities Plus site on Elizabeth Street (the vacant block opposite Redfern Park, next to PCYC) would be the NSW government’s first mixed housing site to use the build-to-rent model. This sparked community interest and many questions from residents in Redfern and Waterloo – due to the innovative nature of the model and also because of the proximity to the forthcoming Waterloo redevelopment.  

Indeed, part of the new dwellings could potentially be used to relocate Waterloo tenants into new homes close to the Waterloo estate and their community.

Build-to-rent is a common model in the private rental sector in the United States and other countries. The concept is to build houses to rent instead of selling them. It appeals particularly to large investors such as superannuation funds who are seeking stable, long-term returns. While this is a relatively classic landowner approach from large consortiums, build-to-rent becomes a much more interesting model when it is used to deliver more housing, including affordable housing, while retaining very valuable state-owned land.

It looks like it might also be part of a NSW government strategy to deliver more social and affordable housing if the Redfern pilot project were to be successful.

Under this new model, the government leases land under a long-term lease to investors and not-for-profit organisations. These investors develop the land by building new social, affordable and private housing they then manage and receive rent for. In the case of Redfern, this long-term lease could be 40 years, as announced by Minister Goward.

At the end of the term, both land and dwellings are returned to the government, retaining precious inner-city land.

Interesting questions from local Redfern and Waterloo residents have been raised around management of properties, conditions of the lease, and even how this might present an opportunity for rent control on the private market dwellings built on public land.

REDWatch’s monthly meeting on August 2 discussed the build-to-rent model and how it might work in NSW. There will also be consultation and community engagement around the Redfern site development led by Straight Talk on behalf of the NSW government in the coming months. Stay tuned and have your say on this model which will provide more houses in our city!

Concerning the Waterloo redevelopment, we are still waiting for the options concept plans and technical studies to be released. Inner Sydney Voice and Counterpoint’s whiteboard animation, however, is ready! Co-created by local community workers, tenant representatives and an award-winning illustrator, it explains the planning process and how you can have a say in a straightforward and visual way. We will be launching our community animation mid-August.

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