A high-profile developer wants to amend its over-station towers plan on Sydney’s North Shore to create more than 100 homes for frontline health workers.
Developer Thirdi and joint-venture partner Phoenix Property Investors had been granted Stage 1 approval for the Metro Precinct (Site A and B) development at Crows Nest, to be known as Hume Place.
The pair are now partnering with community housing providers Evolve Housing and plan to designate 15 per cent—more than 100 apartments—of the mixed-used development as affordable housing for nurses, midwives, health professional and services staff working at the nearby Royal North Shore Hospital and other nearby health facilities in perpetuity.
The homes for healthcare workers have been valued at $130 million.
A spokesperson said an amendment to the two-tower plan was being sought “due to a decreased demand for office space, the urgent need for additional residential density in the LGA, and in line with the NSW government’s commitment to increasing the low supply of affordable housing”.
They said Thirdi and PPI were proposing to amend the concept state significant development [SSD] for Site A for mixed-use, which includes a mix of affordable housing, private residential, retail and commercial floor space.
In February, the joint venture acquired the site via private treatywith Sydney Metro and the NSW government for an undisclosed figure but the end value of the projects is expected to be $1 billion.
A study commissioned by Thirdi and PPI found that health workers and services staff working in the suburb were having to travel 30-50km to get to work.
Workers from Royal North Shore Hospital living alone are paying up to 58 per cent of their salary for a studio in the area.
If approved by all stakeholders, Thirdi and PPI will deliver a turnkey-ready asset to Evolve, who will then work with the state’s two major health unions, the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association and the Health Services Union, to offer their members a range of apartments and associated amenities, including a wellness centre.
Thirdi director Robert Huxley said Hume Place would not only address the growing residential needs of the community but create economic activity for local businesses.
Thirdi was founded more than two decades ago by Huxley, Ron Dadd and Luke Berry. It has a portfolio of developments in Australia and has explanded overseas with projects under way in the UK.
Huxley said the “in kind and in perpetuity” agreement with Evolve was “a unique offering” in the property industry and provided a foundation for the creation of up to 500 more affordable homes in the Sydney metropolitan area.
“Should our amendment concept proposal be approved, we’ll hand over title of the affordable tower to Evolve, who can use that unencumbered asset to finance a new pipeline of affordable housing right across their sites in NSW, so there will be a significant flow-on effect from this project in terms of addressing to the crisis in supply that the market is experiencing,” he said.
Health Services Union secretary Gerard Hayes said Australia’s housing crisis was becoming a health crisis.
“Essential health workers are already making the tough decision to leave the sector in search of work closer to home,” he said.
“A hospital cleaner, a physiotherapist, a wardsperson—these workers shouldn’t have to travel for hours each day, coming to work already exhausted. We need solutions that mean these workers can afford to live in the communities they serve.”
The proposed affordable rental apartments will also help with recruiting staff to hospitals and other health facilities—there are more than 114 job vacancies at RNS alone.
“With the crippling cost-of-living pressures, the reality is that most healthcare workers cannot find, let alone afford, to live near RNS, The Mater or other health facilities on the Lower North Shore,” Evolve chief executive Lyall Gorman said.
“The fact is the demand for affordable housing far out-strips the current supply on to the market.”