5 key considerations for developers

Australia’s social housing stock levels are stagnating, and with demand for rental and community affordable housing options only increasing, developers and governments are looking for new solutions to address the demand.

The waiting list for social housing in Australia has over 189,000 applicants (as of 30 June 2017), and the overall percentage of social housing stock continues to decline – reported at just 4.1 per cent of total housing stock, compared with 4.9 per cent in 1981.

Developers are in a position to alleviate the pressure, with one Australian developer – Frasers Property – leading the way with its inclusive approach to community housing.

Frasers Property has been involved in a number of integrated social and community housing projects across Australia, including the $2.2 billion Ivanhoe Estate.

With this experience, Frasers Property has put together five key considerations for developers to keep in mind when delivering a flourishing integrated community housing project.

Related: Affordable Housing Development in Macquarie Park Wins Government Approval

1. Designs must not be discriminatory

To create an inclusive community, the first step developers need to undertake is ensuring that their designs are non-discriminatory and that there are no distinguishable differences between the social housing and private dwellings in the project.

To create a design that fosters an inclusive and integrated community, there are two main approaches developers can take: a salt and pepper approach, or a silo approach.

Each have their own advantages and disadvantages, however it is ultimately up to the project partners, including government, and the vision for the project to determine what approach will have the best outcome.

The salt and pepper approach is where the project fully integrates the social housing aspect of a development by blending it indiscriminately among the private dwellings.

Alternatively, a “silo” approach separates private dwellings and social housing by precincts or buildings. In this approach, the project’s common areas and amenities must work harder to achieve true integration.

Keeping the two types of dwellings separate may offer advantages from a strata management perspective, as well as providing the government with an entire asset to manage.

2. Invest in placemaking

Operating at the design and social levels of a project, placemaking is essential for the long-term wellbeing of a community by creating physical spaces where people can come together and interact, supported by organised experiences to enable and encourage that social interaction.

Investing in placemaking is a critical component of seamlessly integrating community housing into a development, and will work to ensure that needs of all residents are met. It’s a design consideration as well as a program of curated experiences.

By having spaces and programmed experiences available for communal enjoyment, it helps incubate and foster a sense of belonging and community within the development.

3. Choose the right strata management solution

Regardless of how a developer chooses to approach the integration of community housing into their project, the strata management solution needs to clearly define the differences between public and private dwellings.

Strata management will largely come down to the ownership structure, with ongoing management requirements being vastly different between private and public assets.

For example, the local council may be responsible for the management of some parks and outdoor spaces, whereas the management needs of any jointly owned community spaces will have to be clearly defined in the early stages of the project.

4. Integrate necessary social and community services

At its core, community housing is about providing residents with a stepping stone that prepares them to take the next step in their lives. That is why it is crucial for a development to have the required services to support the specific needs of all residents.

To help community housing tenants achieve safety, stability and independence through employment, and help them to progress to alternative housing options, a suite of tailored, person-centred supports and services is needed to connect them with local services, education, training and employment opportunities.

Management of these services must be costed into the project delivery agreement on an ongoing basis and provided by a tier one community housing provider (CHP).

5. Encourage community and connection

As with any masterplanned community, developers need to put an emphasis on providing quality common spaces to enable residents to come together naturally and seamlessly.

In an integrated community this becomes even more important, and it is crucial that no divide (or “us” vs “ them” mentality) exists between residents.

Thought must be given to the physical amenities (links, roads, parks and communal areas) as well as the community infrastructure (indoor facilities, outdoor spaces and links to neighbouring communities) to help foster a strong sense of community that will help the development flourish.

Integrating community housing into a residential project is a sensitive topic, however with the right considerations, developers have the tools needed to create safe, connected and healthy communities that meet the growing needs for social housing.

Frasers Property has a track record for delivering integrated community housing projects, and with its experience at Ivanhoe Estate in Sydney, Carlton and Parkville in Victoria and East Perth in Western Australia, the company has learned a number of lessons about what it takes to create a successful integrated community.

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