Case Study: Social and Affordable Housing Development

Street view of housing

In 2014-15 In 2014-15, Central West NSW was experiencing a critical shortage of affordable housing. Vacancy rates were very low, real estate agents were reporting waiting lists for affordably priced accommodation and rent increases were well above CPI. The surge in mining activity, particularly in Orange and Mudgee, was driving the conversion of unfurnished affordable dwellings into furnished or serviced accommodation for high-income resource workers, leading to a subsequent increase in rent. Local schools were struggling to attract teachers due to the lack of affordable housing. Housing stress was high.

In major urban centres, a localised shortage of affordable accommodation is not a huge problem as people have the option to move to other suburbs. However, in Central West NSW, there are no reasonable and accessible alternatives. Residents must choose between long distance commuting with the consequential cost and social dislocation, or leave the area altogether.

To respond to the affordable housing crisis, Housing Plus developed 53x Social and Affordable dwellings in Orange, Bathurst and Mudgee, NSW, through debt and equity finance, and subsidies from the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS). The dwellings comprised a mix of 1BR, 2BR and 4BR villas, with a development value of $14.5M.

Dwellings were designed to the Platinum level of the Liveable Housing Design Guidelines and 6-star energy rating, which provides living comfort and reduced utility costs for tenants and Housing Plus as the owner. Their design was intentional to ensure suitability and adaptability for a range of housing needs. All sites are centrally located, close to services and facilities, and public transport.

Housing Plus contracted leading regional builder, Rawson Homes, to deliver the dwellings on a turnkey contract. Rawson Homes was responsible for negotiating and purchasing the land, design, subdivision, construction planning approvals, civil works and construction. Housing Plus purchased the dwellings on completion for a pre-agreed price and specification, insulating Housing Plus from the risks associated with property development. The homes were delivered in an 18-month staged handover.

All 53 dwellings were completed on time and within budget, and all tenancies were filled within six weeks of Practical Completion.