City of Sydney continues inquiry into public housing homes being left vacant

City of Sydney continues inquiry into public housing homes being left vacant
Image: Open space at 82 Wentworth Park Road. Image: supplied



City of Sydney have expressed once more their concern for the high number of public housing homes being left vacant as the housing crisis continues.

At yesterday night’s council meeting, the last for the year, Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore put forward a motion that highlighted recent reports of public housing being kept untenanted for extended periods of time.

Many of the homes that have been left vacant are due to redevelopment plans, as seen recently with 82 Wentworth Park Road in Glebe, despite not yet having approval to go ahead with the redevelopment.

Council had previously passed a motion to write to the State Government and report these concerns, as well as request information for why these houses were left empty. They received no response.

However, Cr Ellsmore organised questions of notice, which found that as of November 1 2023, there were 267 public housing properties left vacant in the City of Sydney alone.

Of these, 114 properties were one-bedroom properties, 120 were two-bedroom, 27 were three-bedroom, and 6 had four or more bedrooms, meaning the vacant properties included a total of 459 bedrooms.

Part of the motion also requested that Council seek urgent advice as to what action is being taken by the NSW Government to ensure public housing is not being left vacant, including when a potential renovation or redevelopment will take place at some future period.

Cr Ellsmore was also able to confirm that nearly all of that housing is in good condition.

Speaking to City Hub, Cr Ellsmore said, “It isn’t because it’s waiting for repairs and that people can’t be in it. And we know that some of that housing is being left vacant awaiting a future possible redevelopment.”

“So they could be putting people in that housing right now, and they’re leaving it vacant deliberately.”

16 out of the 17 properties at Wentworth Park Road were also vacant.

“Even though they don’t have development approval and there’s no timeline for when there could be a future development for that site at this stage, because the state doesn’t even have the approval to do so,” she continued.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore AO seconded the motion, which was then passed unanimously.

The council also endorsed the community’s alternative plan for the site, which is to renovate and infill instead of demolishing. Senior architects who have put together a plan showing how it could be done to deliver the same amount of housing (minus one room), for $7 million cheaper, all without demolishing.

Ian Stephenson from the Glebe Society said, “It is not often that community groups marshal eminent architects to present pro bono an alternative plan for the site.  We have presented an alternative design which would provide the same number of units, each sun lit, and is $7 million cheaper. It would have far less negative impacts on tenants and the environment.”

“We are delighted that Sydney City Council at its meeting this Monday voted to support our renovate don’t demolish approach and to write to the State Government about this,” Mr Stephenson continued.

Sydney community group Hands off Glebe, with the support of the Glebe Society, launched its latest booklet, The Wentworth Report, at Sydney Town Hall on Tuesday 12 December at 6.30pm, forming part of the continuing campaign to save the public housing site at Wentworth Park Road from demolition.

The booklet argues the case for an alternative approach to increasing the supply of good public housing by renovating the existing building and adding additional housing on the site.

The development application to demolish this public housing will be decided on Wednesday 13 December. A protest will take place in front of Town Hall at 5:30pm.

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4 responses to “City of Sydney continues inquiry into public housing homes being left vacant”

  1. The predominant main reason that the Minister for Public-Housing In N.S.W. leaves vast swathes of currently available Public-Housing properties vacant Is entirely deliberate. Obviously they Intend for them to rapidly and vastly deteriorate to such an extent that they cant be renovated back to a habitable state so that they use that as a shocking unacceptable excuse to off sell them onto developers or whoever obtaining Incredible sums of cash In the ensuing process which naturally enhance the Governments constantly depleted yet perilous empty available funds within Its own particular Government-Department whereby any revenue generated gets sent to Consolidated-Revenue and Is eventually wasted and gobbled up as surplus to requirements. How utterly sad and beyond tragic this repulsive sordid affair has become and when doesn’t having a permanent roof over your head count anymore??? have the Increasing hordes of desperate homeless people just become mere Government playthings for the Minister for Housing In N.S.W. to amuse him/her??? 14/12/2023.

  2. It was passed by the chair’s casting vote.
    The community rep and one of the ‘expert’ members voted not to approve.
    The alternative plan to retain and add was ignored.
    A sad waste of public money and loss of public housing.

  3. I remember living as a student/muso in Westmorland Street Glebe back in 1975, shortly after Whitlam’s Federal Government spent some money at least raising the often derelict buildings of “The Glebe Estate” to a a hygienic, safe and livable standard.

    Quite apart from the current planning concerns (valid though they be), I think that a certain respect should be shown to the activists and MPs who fought to make this happen. What are now the charming back streets of Glebe, with tenants paying affordable rents, would long ago have been replaced with soulless concrete towers and a ghastly freeway down Pyrmont Bridge Road, had the pebblecrete-and-pylon profit parasites of the day had their way.

    Well, at least we got spared the towers, for now. The freeway, which sad to say WAS finally built, is now busy driving locals demented just down the road in Annandale and Rozelle.

  4. Great that there is a focus on renovation instead of demolition.
    There should be penalties that discourage knock-down rebuilds, given the huge negative environmental impact of demolishing a building and building a new structure.
    So many of the existing homes being knocked down were designed for Australian conditions – all the new builds are ugly cubes without eaves or natural airflow, and rely on air-conditioning.
    Typically the new structures also swallow all the green and open space and are built to the edges of the land, which also has a negative impact on neighbours’ privacy and quiet enjoyment.
    Renovate and reuse, rather than destroy.