A major Sydney councillor, at the epicenter of the housing crisis, is asking for federal and state government support to convert community-owned parking spaces into affordable housing.
The Inner West Council’s proposal would eliminate the biggest cost of all housing development – land.
It’s part of a global trend that has seen thousands of parking lots – dubbed “lazy land” by researchers – converted into apartments near transportation hubs and workplaces in San Francisco, New York and Hawaii, as well as Auckland and Melbourne.
Not yet released figures from Knight Frank Research showed that the cost of land for an average 50-unit block in downtown Sydney was about $17.3 million as of June this year.
At a confidential meeting last week, following a review of council properties, Inner West Council approved a shortlist of 10 parking spaces, including a council depot, which could be converted into apartments renting “well below” market rates.
Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne said local government is facing the worst of the crisis. “We are in the epicenter. There is a generation that grew up here but was pushed out because they had no hope of buying a home and could never afford the astronomical rents.”
The council would retain ownership of the property, work with affordable housing providers and aim to replace lost parking spaces within the developments. It is still too early to give exact figures on the number of apartments. “But if we can provide housing in three to four locations and get to, say, 200 housing units, that would be a tenfold increase in the council-controlled public housing stock,” Byrne said.
New South Wales Housing Secretary Rose Jackson welcomed the prospect of working with councilors to resolve the crisis. The New South Wales Government is also conducting an assessment of land that could be used for more housing. “Parking spaces are often a great opportunity as they are usually close to transport and shops and can be converted into housing without losing green space,” she said.