Affordable housing development to go ahead in Newcastle
Development of the old Empire Hotel site has been announced with plans underway for a 14 storey apartment block that will include 25 affordable housing units and 16 units designed for residents with disabilities.
The NSW Government is contributing the land value of $2.8 million to the deal, through the Hunter Development Corporation (HDC) which owns the land, and Newcastle City Council will contribute $2.9 million from its Building Better Cities Housing Management and Development Committee.
Local consortium NewcastleFirst has been selected to redevelop the site. According to HDC General Manager Bob Hawes the NewcastleFirst consortium was specifically formed to develop the site according to a design by local architects EJE Architecture.
The building will include more than 100 apartments of various sizes and a component of commercial/retail space. It will also include a number of accessible independent living units spread over various levels, giving choice for residents with disabilities. When finalised, the NewcastleFirst’s development application will need to be assessed by an independent planning consultant with the recommendations to be made to the Joint Regional Planning Panel.
“Under this innovative agreement, the developer will be incorporating a minimum of 25 affordable housing units into a larger residential building. HDC intends to transfer its affordable housing units to Housing NSW to be ultimately vested in Compass Housing, a local affordable housing provider.” Mr Hawes said.
Newcastle-based Compass Housing is the largest provider of social and affordable housing in regional Australia, CEO Greg Budworth said that this project will provide much needed affordable housing for local working people, and that transferring the title of the affordable housing properties provided another boost with Compass then able to leverage them to invest in more affordable housing for the city’s people.
“This is some rare good news as the crisis in affordable housing in Newcastle and the Hunter worsens,” Mr Budworth said. “In the Federal Budget the Government axed the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS), which has big implications for our capacity to generate more affordable housing locally.”