Ironbark Apartments Forest Lodge wins award for excellence in affordable housing

Ironbark Apartments Forest Lodge wins award for excellence in affordable housing


The Ironbark apartments in Forest Lodge have been awarded for excellence in affordable housing by the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

UDIA NSW is an industry body representing the interests of the NSW property development sector, and the Crown Group Awards for Excellence highlight innovation, sustainability, industry leadership and excellence in urban development across NSW and the ACT.

The Ironbark apartments, completed in June 2020, were the final piece of the Harold Park precinct urban renewal redevelopment.

The developer of the urban renewal master plan, Mirvac, entered into a voluntary planning agreement with the City of Sydney requiring the dedication of land to the City for affordable housing. City West Housing (CWH) won the tender to purchase the land.

The judging panel was unanimous in its view that Ironbark was this year’s winner of excellence in affordable development and commended it on being “indistinguishable” from the ‘for market’ buildings which surround it.

Lisa Sorrentino, Head of Development at CWH told City Hub this was a conscious design choice, “as we own and operate our buildings as affordable housing in-perpetuity, we are careful to ensure that not only are our buildings fit for purpose for our residents, but that they integrate within the local communities in the built form and operations.”

All 75 apartments are affordable rental housing in-perpetuity with income-based rents ensuring the residents are not in housing stress by paying more than 30% of their gross household income.

The design focuses on long-term liveability and operations including reduced car parking, single bathrooms in apartments with a common bathroom with shower in case of maintenance, dishwasher provision only, and ceiling fans and roller blinds in living areas and bedrooms and no air-conditioning to reduce energy costs.

CWH partnered with GoGet to provide residents with free car-share memberships and low rates, Valiant Furniture to furnish an apartment for a resident in need using rental furniture, and Tangerine and MyConnect to provide access to competitive rates for internet and free utilities connections.


The judges commended CWH on handling challenges with neighbours in the development process.

Sorrentino said, “as Ironbark was the final piece of the redevelopment of the Harold Park masterplan, many neighbours were unfamiliar with the original masterplan approval and incorrectly thought the site was being reserved for a new dog park.

“Once construction commenced, a number of complaints from neighbours were raised, many with the incorrect assumption that subsidised affordable housing would be a negative impact to the local community and would create additional anti-social behaviour.

“We commenced open communication with the local strata managers and were able to determine that there were existing sensitivities and issues unrelated to affordable housing, and that anti-social behaviour exists in communities no matter how much money a household makes,” she said.

Desperate demand

In terms of what makes Ironbark excellent, Sorrentino said, “for me, there is not one design element that makes it excellent, rather the entire approach to development and operations makes it a standout.

“It gives to the community in many ways, from housing our important front-line workers, baristas, and aging community members to contributing to the local character.

“The demand for affordable housing far outweighs supply with City West Housing having a pre-qualified list of over 500 households,” she said, “more fit for purpose affordable housing buildings are desperately needed.”

A City of Sydney spokesperson said less than one per cent of total housing is currently classed as affordable within the City of Sydney.

“The high cost of housing is an important economic and social issue in Sydney, particularly in the inner-city where housing prices are among the highest in Australia.

“The City is committed to tackling housing affordability any way it can, and this is a great example of how council was able to secure land for more affordable housing by using the rezoning process in the planning system.

“Access to affordable and social housing is essential for a diverse, cohesive, and economically successful global city and impacts our ability to attract and retain workers,” the spokesperson said.

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