Council_Mark_POS_RGB

5 November 2014

 

Dear Councillor,

In pursuance of the provisions of the Local Government Act, 1993 and the Regulations thereunder, notice is hereby given that a POLICY REVIEW COMMITTEE MEETING of Penrith City Council is to be held in the Passadena Room, Civic Centre, 601 High Street, Penrith on Monday 10 November 2014, at the conclusion of the Extraordinary meeting.

Attention is directed to the statement accompanying this notice of the business proposed to be transacted at the meeting.

Yours faithfully

 

 

Alan Stoneham

General Manager

 

BUSINESS

 

1.           LEAVE OF ABSENCE

Leave of absence has been granted to:

Councillor Greg Davies - 30 October 2014 to 23 November 2014 inclusive.

Councillor Mark Davies - 10 October 2014 to 10 November 2014 inclusive.

Councillor Michelle Tormey - 10 November 2014.

Leave of absence has been requested by:

Councillor Jim Aitken OAM – 10 November 2014 – 15 December 2014 inclusive.

Councillor John Thain – 10 November 2014.

2.           APOLOGIES

3.           CONFIRMATION OF MINUTES

Policy Review Committee Meeting - 13 October 2014.

4.           DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Pecuniary Interest (The Act requires Councillors who declare a pecuniary interest in an item to leave the meeting during discussion of that item)

Non-Pecuniary Conflict of Interest – Significant and Less than Significant (The Code of Conduct requires Councillors who declare a significant non-pecuniary conflict of interest in an item to leave the meeting during discussion of that item)

5.           ADDRESSING THE MEETING

6.           MAYORAL MINUTES

7.           NOTICES OF MOTION TO RESCIND A RESOLUTION

8.           NOTICES OF MOTION

9.           DELIVERY PROGRAM REPORTS

10.         REQUSTS FOR REPORTS AND MEMORANDUMS

11.         URGENT BUSINESS

12.         CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS


POLICY REVIEW COMMITTEE MEETING

 

Monday 10 November 2014

 

table of contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

meeting calendar

 

 

confirmation of minutes

 

 

DELIVERY program reports

 


Council_Mark_POS_RGB2014 MEETING CALENDAR

January 2014 - December 2014

(adopted by Council on 25/11/13 and amended by Council on 26/5/14 & 27/10/14)

 

 

 

TIME

JAN

FEB

MAR

APRIL

MAY

JUNE

JULY

AUG

SEPT

OCT

NOV

DEC

Mon

Mon

Mon

Mon

Mon

Mon

Mon

Mon

Mon

Mon

Mon

Mon

 

Ordinary Council Meeting

7.30pm

 

3

10&

 

 

 

 

 

 

22^ü

(7.00pm)

 

 

15

(7.00pm)

 

24@

24

28v

26#

23 *

28

25@

29

27

24#+

 

Policy Review Committee

7.00pm

 

 

 

14

12

30

14

11

8

13

10

2(Tu)

 

10

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 v

Meeting at which the draft corporate planning documents (Delivery Program and Operational Plan) are endorsed for exhibition

 *

Meeting at which the draft corporate planning documents (Delivery Program and Operational Plan) are adopted

 #

Meetings at which the Operational Plan quarterly reviews (March and September) are presented

 @

Meetings at which the Delivery Program progress reports (including the Operational Plan quarterly reviews for December and June) are presented

 ^

Election of Mayor/Deputy Mayor

 ü

Meeting at which the 2013-2014 Annual Statements are presented

 

Meeting at which any comments on the 2013-2014 Annual Statements are presented

 +

Meeting at which the Annual Report is presented

&

Extraordinary Meeting

-            Extraordinary Meetings are held as required.

-            Members of the public are invited to observe meetings of the Council (Ordinary and Policy Review Committee).

Should you wish to address Council, please contact the Senior Governance Officer, Glenn Schuil.

 


UNCONFIRMED MINUTES

 OF THE POLICY REVIEW COMMITTEE MEETING OF PENRITH CITY COUNCIL HELD IN THE PASSADENA ROOM, PENRITH

ON MONDAY 13 OCTOBER 2014 AT 7:05PM

PRESENT

His Worship the Mayor, Councillor Ross Fowler OAM, Deputy Mayor, Councillor Greg Davies and Councillors Jim Aitken OAM, Bernard Bratusa, Prue Car, Kevin Crameri OAM, Marcus Cornish, Maurice Girotto, Ben Goldfinch, Jackie Greenow OAM, Karen McKeown, John Thain and Michelle Tormey.

 

LEAVE OF ABSENCE

Leave of Absence was previously granted to Councillor Mark Davies for the period 10 October 2014 to 10 November 2014 inclusive.

APOLOGIES

PRC 59  RESOLVED on the MOTION of Councillor Jackie Greenow OAM seconded Councillor Ben Goldfinch that an apology be received for Councillor Tricia Hitchen.

 

CONFIRMATION OF MINUTES - Policy Review Committee Meeting - 8 September 2014

PRC 60  RESOLVED on the MOTION of Councillor Ben Goldfinch seconded Councillor Jackie Greenow OAM that the minutes of the Policy Review Committee Meeting of 8 September 2014 be confirmed.

 

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

 

His Worship the Mayor, Councillor Ross Fowler OAM declared a Pecuniary Interest in Item 3 – Placement of Council news page as he is a Director and Shareholder of a company subject to the report.

 

Councillor Jim Aitken OAM declared a Pecuniary Interest in Item 3 – Placement of Council news page as he is a Shareholder  of a company subject to the report

 

  DELIVERY PROGRAM REPORTS

 

Outcome 4 - We have safe, vibrant places

 

1        Grant Application - 2014-15 Metropolitan Greenspace Program                                

PRC 61  RESOLVED on the MOTION of Councillor Karen McKeown seconded Councillor Bernard Bratusa

That:

1.    The information contained in the report on Grant Application - 2014-15 Metropolitan Greenspace Program be received

2.    Council endorse the three projects identified for the ‘Our River – Path, Play and Planning’ Metropolitan Greenspace Program application.

 

 

 

 

Outcome 6 - We're healthy and share strong community spirit

 

2        Sport Facility Grant Program - NSW Office of Sport                                                    

PRC 62  RESOLVED on the MOTION of Councillor John Thain seconded Councillor Jackie Greenow OAM

That:

1.    The information contained in the report on Sport Facility Grant Program - NSW Office of Sport be received

2.    Grant applications are submitted for:

-     The installation of four floodlight poles with 100 lux lighting at Myrtle Road Fields, Claremont Meadows and Council commit a $90,000 contribution to the project from the Local Open Space Contributions Plan.

-     The installation of an outdoor health and fitness gym at Callisto Drive, Cranebrook and Council commit a $55,000 contribution funded by Council’s Grants Reserve ($40,000) and Neighbourhood Renewal Program ($15,000).

 

 

Outcome 7 - We have confidence in our Council

 

His Worship the Mayor, Councillor Ross Fowler OAM and Councillor Jim Aitken OAM having previously declared Pecuniary Interests in this item left the meeting, the time being 7:11pm

 

The Deputy Mayor, Councillor Greg Davies took the Chair for consideration of this item, the time being 7:11pm.

 

3        Placement of Council news page                                                                                    

PRC 63  RESOLVED on the MOTION of Councillor John Thain seconded Councillor Ben Goldfinch

That:

1.    The information contained in the report on Placement of Council news page be received.

2.    Council’s weekly news page be placed with the Western Weekender for the next two years.

3.    Council’s quarterly Community Newsletter be placed with the Penrith Gazette/St Marys Star for the next two years as a 8 page middle of the newspaper insert.

 

His Worship the Mayor, Councillor Ross Fowler OAM returned to the meeting and resumed the Chair, the time being 7:25pm.

 

Councillor Jim Aitken OAM returned to the meeting, the time being 7:25pm.

 

 

 

 

4        Draft Policy on the Payment of Expenses and Provision of Facilities to Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillors                                                                                                     

PRC 64  RESOLVED on the MOTION of Councillor Greg Davies seconded Councillor Ben Goldfinch

That:

1.    The information contained in the report on Draft Policy on the Payment of Expenses and Provision of Facilities to Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillors be received

2.    Council advertise for 28 days a public notice of its intention to adopt the amended Policy on the Payment of Expenses and Provision of Facilities to Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillors.

3.    A further report be presented to Council at the conclusion of the exhibition period.

 

 

REQUESTS FOR REPORTS AND MEMORANDUMS

 

RR 1           Badgerys Creek Airport - Stationery                                                                     

Councillor Kevin Crameri OAM requested an urgent report to the next Ordinary Council meeting detailing when Council stopped putting the No Airport information on Council stationery and if we can start putting “No 24 Hour Airport at Badgerys Creek” information on stationery again.

 

RR 2           Penrith Lakes Development Corporation - Water Quality                                  

Councillor Kevin Crameri OAM requested a report to Council on what is happening with the Penrith Lakes Development Corporation and future water quality and who will pay.

 

RR 3           Filling of Floodplain                                                                                                 

Councillor Kevin Crameri OAM requested an urgent report on the filling of the floodplain by Lend Lease regarding the central precinct.

 

RR 4           9th Avenue - Local Traffic Committee                                                                  

Councillor Kevin Crameri OAM requested a memo reply advising on what is planned and discussed for 9th Avenue, Llandilo as per LTC Item 16 held on 13 October 2014.

 

Councillor Jim Aitken OAM left the meeting and did not return, the time being 7:38pm.

 

There being no further business the Chairperson declared the meeting closed the time being 7:40pm.

    



DELIVERY PROGRAM REPORTS

 

Item                                                                                                                                       Page

 

 

Outcome 1 - We can work close to home

 

1        Penrith City Children's Services Cooperative Ltd                                                              1

 

Outcome 2 - We plan for our future growth

 

2        Draft State Environmental Planning Policy No.65 Design Quality of Residential Flat Development - Draft Submission                                                                                                              9

 

3        Reclassification of Certain Public Land in St Marys Town Centre

Procedural note: Section 375A of the Local Government Act 1993 requires that a division be called in relation to this matter.                                                                               18

 

 

Outcome 4 - We have safe, vibrant places

 

4        Reclassification of Council Owned Land in St Marys Town Centre                                29

 

Outcome 6 - We're healthy and share strong community spirit

 

5        Macarthur Real Estate Engagement Project                                                                   38

 

 


 

 

 

 

THIS PAGE HAS BEEN LEFT BLANK  INTENTIONALLY


Outcome 1 - We can work close to home

 

Item                                                                                                                                       Page

 

1        Penrith City Children's Services Cooperative Ltd                                                              1

 

 

 



Policy Review Committee Meeting                                                            10 November 2014

 

 

 

1

Penrith City Children's Services Cooperative Ltd   

 

Compiled by:               Marlene Cauchi, Management Accountant - Children's Services

Jade Bradbury, Acting Children's Services Manager

Authorised by:            Jade Bradbury, Acting Children's Services Manager  

 

Outcome

We can work close to home

Strategy

Provide access to education and training to improve residents ability to take advantage of current and future employment opportunities

Service Activity

Deliver high quality children's services

 

Presenters:                  Max Friend - Chairperson - Penrith City Children's Services Cooperative Ltd  - Annual Report      

 

Executive Summary

This report provides information on the operations of the children’s services auspiced by Council and managed by the Penrith City Children’s Services Cooperative (PCCSC) for the period July 2013 to June 2014. The report includes information on the financial operations of the services managed by the Cooperative. The report recommends that the information be received and that Council underwrite the operations of the PCCSC Ltd until the presentation to Council of the Penrith City Children’s Services Cooperative Ltd Annual Report for

2014-2015.

Background

The PCCSC became effective from 1 January 2003 and was created to manage a number of children’s services on Council’s behalf including long day care, preschool, before and after school and vacation care. In 2008, the Board also took on the management of St Marys Occasional Children’s Centre following its co-location with St Marys Children’s Centre. The structure of the Cooperative is a Board of 11 Directors including parent representatives, three Councillors, a staff representative, community representatives and a representative of the General Manager. The Board meets on a bi-monthly basis and operates under Council delegation as a non-trading entity. The Board looks at broad policy matters, sets the direction for children’s services and makes major decisions about service provision. Parent Advisory Committees, elected annually at each site, provide valuable input into the operational aspects of individual services. 

 

On Council’s behalf, the Board manages 26 facilities encompassing 17 long day care, five preschools, nine before and after school care services, six vacation care and one occasional care service. Gumbirra vacation care in St Clair also commenced in April 2013 to accommodate increasing demand in that community. Approximately 3,750 children aged 0-12 years attend the services annually with approximately 300 staff employed in centre-based service delivery including permanent, temporary and casual employees working in full-time and part-time capacities.

 

Children’s Services has a broad strategy in Council’s Delivery Program to deliver high quality children’s services. Linked to this strategy are the five major goals in the Board’s Strategic Plan – being a leader in quality, sound financial management, enabling a skilled workforce,  being known as a provider of high quality not-for-profit services and having decision making processes that are open and transparent. It is pleasing that a number of key primary actions within these goals have been implemented during the period of review. Following the previous year’s favourable operational financial outcome, this year Children’s Services has focussed on consolidating service delivery to the high levels expected by the community. In an effort to address some of the challenges faced during the year, the Board, along with the Children’s Services leadership and management team, have focussed attention on a variety of initiatives, a snapshot of which are highlighted in this report. The following comments provide information on some of the operational aspects of the children’s services managed by the Cooperative, as well as a summary of the financial reports for the period July 2013 to June 2014.

 

The Children’s Services Program 

The Children’s Services program is focused on delivering high quality children’s services that are affordable, accessible and viable. For the cumulative period July 2013 to June 2014, of the six components of children’s services managed by the Board, only one achieved or exceeded projected utilisation targets (occasional care). This was particularly significant in the second half of the financial year, especially in long day. Increasingly, families were reporting loss of jobs, redundancies, reduced work hours and businesses going out of business as major factors in their ability to afford childcare.  A major contributing factor to the under-achievement of utilisation targets in out of school hours care was the number of schools across the LGA opening services on site which is an attractive ‘one stop shop’ option for some parents. Our experience is that children are often withdrawn from formal childcare when there is increased pressure on families’ disposable income and children are cared for by friends or family or children of school age go home alone. Rectification steps were taken at the services to ensure ongoing viability of impacted centres including some reduced staffing, cut backs in discretionary spending and a reduction in amounts being contributed to pooled funds.    

 

Annual Customer Survey

The children’s services annual customer satisfaction survey was undertaken in October 2013, the results of which have been analysed. Parents were asked to identify their satisfaction and perception in a number of key areas including rating their centre in 26 areas, rating the quality and their confidence in the service. Parents were also invited to make suggestions for improvement. In summary, services were rated excellent to good with particular feedback made about the high quality of the centre staff. There are always opportunities to improve the way in which services are delivered and the Children’s Services Coordination Unit is working with centre staff to identify strategies to continue to support and develop them. It is pleasing that a number of strategies from the Children’s Services Workforce Workplan, developed after the Employee Opinion Survey, have been implemented. In addition, work has been progressed on ways to improve communication between parents, staff and children. Where issues were identified at particular sites through the customer survey, the matters have been addressed with services individually.

 

Building and Playground Upgrades

Children’s Services continuously strives to maintain services as aesthetically pleasing and safe environments for children, families and staff. To this end a significant number of building and playground upgrades totalling $385,902 have been completed during the financial year being reported on. The Board is making more provision than ever for building and playground upgrades to meet the ongoing challenge of ageing buildings.

 

Enrolment of Children from an Aboriginal Background and Children with Disabilities

Of particular note during this reporting period is the increased enrolment of children from an Aboriginal background across Children’s Services (up 20%) with the support of significantly reduced preschool fees and the support of the SAACS (supporting Aboriginal access to children’s services) worker. The SAACS worker is the first point of contact for Aboriginal parents which is then followed up with assistance through the enrolment process and liaison with the family some weeks after enrolment. The SAACS worker has been working with centres to build their capacity to include families from an Aboriginal background and be culturally reflective. 

 

Support to improve access for children with ongoing high support needs has been provided by the commonwealth funded Inclusion Support Subsidy (ISS). This program builds the capacity of services through the development of service support plans to include children with ongoing high support needs into mainstream services. ISS funding enables services to engage an additional staff member but there is a significant shortfall in the funding received and the cost of employing additional staff which needs to be met by services. It is this gap in funding that is provided by Council to the Cooperative’s operations. During the year the services managed by the Cooperative enrolled over 100 children with additional needs and disabilities.

 

Curriculum Implementation

Curriculum implementation is a critical indicator of the high quality of service delivery across the children’s services sector. During this reporting period, the Children’s Services Curriculum Renewal Group has continued to provide ongoing training and support to Council’s services to understand the principles and practices of the Early Years Learning and My Time Our Place Frameworks and how these relates to their everyday practice. In addition, one of our early childhood educators has provided tailored support to each service which has substantially escalated the engagement and understanding of staff teams. Our educators are now confident with the frameworks, not only in using it in their work with children but in articulating it to others. It has placed our children’s services in a position of strength as they have entered the new Assessment and Rating system. Other projects that have added great value to curriculum implementation have been our music therapy partnership with Nordoff Robbins, ArtKids and collaborative art project with Lewers Gallery and the Resilience Doughnut to name just a few.  

 

The Paint Penrith REaD (PPR) project, supported by Council and the Board, and led locally by Mission Australia, has substantially increased its profile during this reporting period. The focus of the project is on promoting the importance of reading to children from birth as research clearly shows this has positive literacy outcomes for later life. All of Council’s children’s centres and libraries again participated in National Simultaneous Storytime in May this year and Council’s centres are ‘thinking smarter’ about literacy initiatives at each site and branding activities under PPR. In the previous  reporting period, the Board entered into an agreement with Mission Australia and United Way Australia for the rollout of the Imagination Library, a book delivery program, in North St Marys. This program is well on its way to realising its goal of reaching 80% of children aged under five years in this area signed up, which means they will each receive a book a month, posted to them at their home, until their fifth birthday. 

 

Outcomes from the new Assessment and Rating Process

 

The National Quality Standard came into effect on 1 January 2012.  All services managed by the Cooperative will be assessed and rated under this system. To date, 85% of our services have been assessed and received a rating of meeting or exceeding the standard. Our results continue to be higher than the national average of 62% meeting or exceeding. Our results have also exceeded the trend for NSW.

 

Funding for Child Care Links

Federal funding for the Child Care Links (CCL) program ($306,000 for three years) comes to an end in March 2015. It is funded under the Family Support Program umbrella and the outcomes focus on service delivery to the most vulnerable sections of the community including a strong focus on Aboriginal families as part of the Federal Government’s commitment to the Closing the Gap initiative. Through CCL funding, family support workers from Gateway Family Services continued to visit six Council children’s services located in areas identified with higher levels of vulnerability. Gateway also provided a range of parent workshops during this period aimed at building the capacity of parents in terms of providing positive parenting strategies and understanding children’s behaviour. A supported playgroup has been developed in St Clair Primary School, co-facilitated by staff from Stepping Stones Early Learning Centre, building relationships with local families and the school. This dovetails with the significant work being undertaken annually across all of Council’s children’s centres with transition to school and high school. The Links project has also worked with other service providers in Cranebrook in developing a therapeutic speech playgroup for children experiencing speech delays as this was identified as a high need.

 

Children’s Services Business Approach

During the year, children’s services has strengthened its business model approach to the management of centres. The Business Coordinator dedicated to Children’s Services has further strengthened and streamlined business practices across all services. Productivity initiatives have included upgrades to the software for the management of children’s enrolments, attendance and family fees as well as efficiencies from centralised financial systems and global contracts for cleaning, consumables and garden maintenance. 

 

Financial Results

The services managed by the Cooperative reported an operating surplus from ordinary activities of $20,000 for the 2013-14 year. This surplus was achieved from revenues of $17,354,000 with expenses for the same period being $16,162,000. This surplus result is after a contribution from Council of $168,000 as well as transfers to a number of operational reserves of $1,277,000 for future projects and transfers from reserves for current year projects of $63,000. These reserves include provision for playground/building upgrades, bus replacement, centre equipment, advertising and marketing.

 

Income derived from the provision of childcare, as represented by child care fees and child care benefit (CCB) was $15,256,000 which is a decrease on original budget projections due to lower than expected utilisation across all service types as mentioned previously.

 

Grant funding of $2,021,000 was provided by both the State and Federal Governments. This is representative of a decrease of 4.8% in terms of grant funding received compared to last year financial year. This is largely the result of reduced funding received from the State Government for preschool services due to a change of formula and changes to funding for children with special needs.

 

Employee costs for 2013-14 were $14,309,000 which is an increase of 1.1%. Reflective of the industry within which the Cooperative’s services operate, employee costs account for the largest category of expenditure and comprise 81.8% of the total cost of the Cooperative’s operations.

 

In 2013-14 the Cooperative Services made provision for $280,000 towards funding Employee Leave Entitlements (ELE) for Children’s Services Staff. This allowed the Cooperative to fully fund leave entitlements attributable largely to annual leave and long-service leave for its staff.  The total entitlements funded by the Children’s Services ELE reserve for the year ended 30 June 2014 was a total of $18,000.

 

Expenditure on materials, contracts and other expenses were $1,853,000 which is a decrease of 4.5% upon last year’s result. This was largely the result of reduced discretionary expenditure at a number of Children’s Centres.

 

Council’s commitment to directly supporting the initiatives undertaken by the Cooperative is  reflected by the subsidy provided to the Cooperative’s operations of $168,000 (2013 $186,000).  This subsidy provides essential funding for inclusion support and St Marys Occasional Care. Council makes significant other financial contributions to children’s services overall which is outlined through the annual Operational Plan. The financial outcome for the services managed by the Cooperative for the financial year 2013-14 is considered a good result and is testament to the strong financial management of the Cooperative’s services. For the children’s services managed by the Cooperative, the maintenance of utilisation levels is critical to their financial viability and the external grant funding received is of high importance to be able to sustain service delivery at current high levels.

 

Conclusion

The establishment of the Penrith City Children’s Services Cooperative in 2003, has proved to be an effective management model for the children’s services sponsored by Council. The favourable outcome for the 2013-14 financial year is an excellent achievement given the current financial environment, and provides some necessary equity to better position the services for the coming years. The Board of Directors is well aware of the complexities of the operation of children’s services and the challenges that this brings and maintaining a balance between services that are viable, accessible and affordable is high on the Board’s agenda. Sustaining the quality of service provision for which Council’s services are known is a key driver.

 

The Penrith City Children’s Services Cooperative is strongly committed to the provision of quality not-for-profit services for children. Affordability continues to be the driving factor for utilisation levels across all service types and balancing this with viability is a key priority.  Lobbying and advocacy continue in an attempt to ensure that issues related to children’s services, and particularly issues related to the not-for-profit sector, are raised and have a high profile. Continued compliance with the National Law and Regulations is testament to the skill, motivation and dedication of the children’s services staff and the support provided by the Internal Coordination Unit.

 

The Board is under no illusion that the year ahead will hold many challenges in its quest to ensure the children’s services remain viable within a climate of increased competition, legislation and regulation requirements and the challenge to maintain a skilled workforce. Some of the known challenges for children’s services for the year ahead include possible changes to the National Quality Framework and to external funding, maintaining ageing assets, marketing and promotions and sustaining utilisation. The Board will need to keep abreast of emerging issues so that sound change management practices are adopted and the high quality of service provision is sustained. 

 

During the financial year 2013-2014, there were no significant changes in the state of affairs of the Cooperative. The Annual General Meeting of the Cooperative was held in October 2014.  The Council’s representatives on the Board are Councillors Michelle Tormey, Prue Car and Ross Fowler OAM. The General Manager’s representative and Company Secretary is Executive Manager – Corporate, Vicki O’Kelly.

 

 


 

RECOMMENDATION

That:

1.    The information contained in the report on Penrith City Children's Services Cooperative Ltd be received.

2.    Council agree to underwrite the operation of Penrith City Children’s Services Cooperative Ltd until the presentation to Council of the Penrith City Children’s Services Cooperative Ltd Annual Report for 2014-15.

 

 

ATTACHMENTS/APPENDICES

There are no attachments for this report.  


Outcome 2 - We plan for our future growth

 

Item                                                                                                                                       Page

 

2        Draft State Environmental Planning Policy No.65 Design Quality of Residential Flat Development - Draft Submission                                                                                                              9

 

3        Reclassification of Certain Public Land in St Marys Town Centre

Procedural note: Section 375A of the Local Government Act 1993 requires that a division be called in relation to this matter.                                                                               18

 

 

 

 



Policy Review Committee Meeting                                                            10 November 2014

 

 

 

2

Draft State Environmental Planning Policy No.65 Design Quality of Residential Flat Development - Draft Submission   

 

Compiled by:               Schandel Jefferys, Senior Planner 

Authorised by:            Paul Grimson, City Planning Manager  

 

Outcome

We plan for our future growth

Strategy

Facilitate development that encourages a range of housing types

Service Activity

Plan for and facilitate delivery of release areas and urban renewal in the City

      

 

Executive Summary

The NSW Government released the draft changes to State Environmental Planning Policy No. 65 Design Quality for Residential Flat Development (SEPP 65) for public comment on 23 September 2014.

 

Generally, the proposed changes are welcome in that they offer increased useability and interpretation of controls for residential flat development. The single exception to this is the proposed changes to car parking space requirements. A submission focused on the proposed car parking standards has been drafted and is attached to this report.

 

This report seeks Council’s endorsement of the submission together with any additional issues identified by Councillors. A copy of the final submission will be forwarded to all Councillors.

Background

On Tuesday 23 September 2014 the Department of Planning and Environment released details of proposed changes to SEPP 65 for public comment.

The intended effects of the proposed changes are to improve apartment design to account for population change and to make apartments more affordable. The proposed changes aim to respond to the issues raised during previous consultation by implementing changes to support the supply of well designed, affordable apartments, to introduce greater consistency in the adoption of basic design principles and to encourage more innovation in design.

 

Initially the Department set a submission deadline of 31 October 2014. Representations were made to the Department and it was agreed that an initial copy of Council’s submission should be submitted by this deadline with the opportunity to provide a final submission by 28 November 2014. This allows Councillors the opportunity to review the draft submission and raise any additional issues.

Overview of Amendments

The draft amendments to SEPP 65 provide a welcome update of this policy which was originally published over 12 years ago in 2002.

Over the past three years the Department has undertaken consultation with a wide range of stakeholders seeking input into the review of the policy. Council staff contributed to this consultation over time. Overall the feedback revealed that SEPP 65 and the Residential Flat Design Code (RFDC) are achieving positive housing outcomes and generally there is wide support for the policy amongst planners and designers.

The Department also looked at feasibility and housing affordability during their current review. The cost of providing car parking was seen to have a significant impact on construction costs and feasibility. The review recognised that there are areas well served by public transport, requiring less car parking which can be an option to alleviate both traffic and feasibility impacts.

The key changes to SEPP 65 and the Residential Flat Design Code include:

·    Replacement of the Residential Flat Design Code with a new updated Apartment Design Guide.

·    Clarifying the status of the Apartment Design Guide, particularly how it relates to local development control plans.

·    New provisions are proposed to be inserted into the SEPP that provide that local development controls have no effect in relation to the following design matters if they are inconsistent with the new Apartment Design Guide: visual privacy; solar and daylight access; apartment layout; ceiling heights; balconies and private open space; natural ventilation; and storage.

·    The “rules of thumb” in the Residential Flat Design Code are now placed in the Apartment Design Guide with “performance criteria”. A range of suggested “acceptable solutions” is provided which will assist with achieving each performance criteria.

·    Car parking requirements have been reduced in locations near railway stations and light rail stops.

·    New guidelines for the operation of Urban Design Review Panels.

·    Clearer guidance about assessing privacy and building separation.

·    Clearer design advice for natural ventilation and daylight.

·    Streamlining standards including incorporation of more diagrams and pictures.

 

Our Submission

 

Overall the changes are positive and offer an obvious improvement. The revisions have streamlined the policy making it easier to understand and implement.

 

The change in terminology from “rules of thumb” to performance criteria makes the objective of what needs to be achieved much clearer and providing a list of acceptable solutions is also an easy and flexible approach to documenting the design controls.

 

The focus of this submission relates to the proposed car parking controls as summarised below and detailed in the attached draft submission.

 

Car Parking

 

The current SEPP 65 and Residential Flat Design Code do not provide requirements for car parking provision for residential flat development. Under the current planning regime applications are assessed based on local DCP controls.

 

Applications for residential flat development are required to be submitted with traffic and transport assessments. These assessments look in detail at local traffic and parking conditions and for many applications a variation to the minimum car parking requirements is considered. In many more recent applications a lower car parking rate has been approved based on distance to a train station, the frequency of services and in consideration of other available local infrastructure.

 

A current example of this relates to two DAs currently being assessed for residential flat development at Thornton. These applications are supported by traffic and transport assessments which seek an option to reduce the number of parking spaces provided to below the current DCP requirements. Although the assessment of these applications is not yet finalised, the principle of providing reduced car parking spaces may be seen as acceptable given the location being easily accessible to Penrith train station and Penrith City Centre and that relatively frequent train services are available.

 

Conversely, some train stations in Penrith receive only one train every half hour which cannot be compared to stations that receive higher frequency trains. So the fact that some developments will be within 800m of a station does not necessarily result in a reduced reliance on private vehicles and therefore a reduction in car parking provision may not be appropriate. 

 

RMS Guidelines

 

Under the draft amendments to SEPP 65 the majority of residential flat developments in locations within 800m of a train station will be assessed under the RMS Guide to Traffic Generating Development Guidelines. These requirements are much lower than our DCP requirements. For example a one bedroom apartment requires one space under the DCP whereas under the RMS Guidelines the same apartment would require 0.4 of a parking space. 

 

Working through an example of a recent application by Dyldam for a residential flat building comprising 289 dwellings in St Marys Town Centre reveals that, based on the current DCP controls, 371 parking spaces would be required. Should the proposed changes to SEPP 65 be made then the car parking requirement reduces by 112 down to 259 spaces. This equates to 30% less car parking spaces being provided on site. This example demonstrates the significance of the proposed policy change.

 

Providing less car parking spaces in locations that are well serviced by public transport is commonly considered through the development application process and this principle is widely accepted. The concern with changes proposed is that they refer Council to the RMS Guidelines which are out-of-date, unclear, and inconsistent with other State Government policy. This adds to the complexity for Councils and the development industry when dealing with residential flat development, rather than simplifying the standards and making them more transparent. The draft submission attached provides the details of the technical problems with applying the RMS Guidelines.

Next Steps

The key recommendation of our submission asks the Department to review the proposed car parking controls and re-engage with stakeholders to further develop these controls. The proposed amendments are not acceptable in the current draft Apartment Design Guide.

 

We will incorporate input from Councillors at tonight’s meeting and finalise the submission for lodgement with the Department of Planning and Environment by 28 November 2014.

 

 

RECOMMENDATION

That:

1.    The information contained in the report on Draft State Environmental Planning Policy No.65 Design Quality of Residential Flat Development - Draft Submission be received.

2.    Council endorse the attached submission on the draft State Environmental Planning Policy No 65 Design Quality of Residential Flat Development, together with any additional critical issues identified by Councillors, as the basis of a final submission to be forwarded to the Department of Planning and Environment.

3.    A copy of the final submission be forwarded to all Councillors.

 

 

ATTACHMENTS/APPENDICES

1.  

Draft Submision: State Environmental Planning Policy No.65 Design Quality of Residential Flat Development Draft Amendments

5 Pages

Appendix

  


Policy Review Committee Meeting                                                                          10 November 2014

Appendix 1 - Draft Submision: State Environmental Planning Policy No.65 Design Quality of Residential Flat Development Draft Amendments

 

PDF Creator


 

PDF Creator


 

PDF Creator


 

PDF Creator


 

PDF Creator


Policy Review Committee Meeting                                                            10 November 2014

 

 

 

3

Reclassification of Certain Public Land in St Marys Town Centre   

 

Compiled by:               Matthew Rose, Senior Planner

Authorised by:            Paul Grimson, City Planning Manager  

 

Outcome

We plan for our future growth

Strategy

Protect the City's natural areas, heritage and character

Service Activity

Undertake priority planning projects and statutory processes that contribute to Penrith's role as a Regional City

     

Procedural note: Section 375A of the Local Government Act 1993 requires that a division be called in relation to this matter.

 

Executive Summary

At tonight’s meeting the Committee will be considering a report from Council’s Property Development Department (Item No. 4) that seeks to change the classification of certain public land in St Marys Town Centre (the Town Centre).  Should Council determine to proceed with the reclassification of the identified public land, this paper provides the strategic context for the reclassification, explains the reclassification process, and seeks Council’s resolution to commence that process.

 

The reclassification of the land is required to prepare Council’s landholdings to allow it to be able to consider opportunities that implement the adopted St Marys Town Centre Strategy (2006) (the Strategy).  The Strategy outlines a vision for the Town Centre that identifies directions to deliver a vital, viable and sustainable Town centre. 

 

There is currently interest in development in the Town Centre that generally accords with the Strategy’s directions.  This makes a strong case to advance the necessary work to make the Town Centre ready for appropriate development.  Given the time required to reclassify public land it would be prudent to commence the process as soon as possible to avoid lengthy delays for any emerging development opportunities that require the use of public land and deliver the adopted Strategy.  This will place Council in a position to deal with developer interests in an effective and timely manner.

 

The reclassification process requires the use of the Department of Planning and Environment’s local environmental plan making and amending process, known as the “Gateway Process”.  The reclassification of the identified land requires the amendment of Penrith Local Environmental Plan 2010 via a Planning Proposal to be prepared by Council’s Property Department. 

 

Introduction

The St Marys Town Centre (the Town Centre) is the second highest order commercial centre within the Penrith Local Government Area after Penrith City Centre, providing approximately 80,000 square metres of retail floor space.  This floor space is shared between the traditional “strip” of commercial premises in Queen Street and two enclosed shopping centres, the St Marys Village Shopping Centre and Station Plaza.

 

Council’s adopted St Marys Town Centre Strategy (2006) (the Strategy) sets the direction for the revitalisation of the Town Centre outlining a number of key steps:

1.   Imagining the future of the Town Centre in partnership with the community.

2.   Building community support.

3.   Achieving an ecologically sustainable centre.

4.   Creating friendly and attractive places and spaces.

5.   Creating a cultural/entertainment precinct.

6.   Making housing and mixed use developments a priority.

7.   Managing parking and improving access.

8.   Fostering economic investment.

9.   Achieving a quality built environment.

10. Providing the right planning, development and implementation framework.

 

To implement the above directions, the Strategy and subsequent Masterplan (2007) propose, amongst other things, the:

·    creation of a central town square;

·    construction of a new east-west road linking Charles Hackett Drive with Queen Street; and

·    delivery of distinct, entry gateways from the Western Rail Line and the Great Western Highway.

 

The Strategy also recognises the importance of the contribution that the existing shopping centres (Station Plaza and St Marys Village) make to the viability of the Town Centre both now and potentially into the future.  It recommends that they are integrated with Queen Street, recognising that this requires the use of public land, specifically those areas between the existing shopping centres and Queen Street.  This land currently consists of public open space (Kokoda and Lang Parks) and car parking.

 

The directions set by the Strategy are intended to act as a catalyst for new mixed use and high density residential developments in and around the Town Centre by creating attractive, inviting and safe public places and spaces.  The mix of uses should attract pedestrians and increase activity in, around and between retail locations to create a lively social environment and improve the overall economic performance of the Town Centre.  An increasing population and economic investment in the Town Centre also has significant potential to increase its vitality and viability in the longer term.

 

Current Position

A number of development proposals in and around the Town Centre have recently been brought to Council.  These include mixed use and high density residential developments and the proposed expansion and redevelopment of the two shopping centres. 

 

The current planning controls for the Town Centre were set and adopted by Council and came into effect in 2010 as Penrith Local Environmental Plan 2010 (LEP 2010) and Penrith Development Control Plan 2010 (DCP 2010).  These documents underpin the Strategy with a mixed use business zone (B4 Mixed Use) applying over all of the Town Centre.  They also apply development controls that encourage the integration of land uses over private and public land.  The implementation of the Strategy now requires the readying of the Town Centre to accommodate developments which advance its strategic purposes.  This requires the reclassification of certain public land from Community Land to Operational Land. 

 

Public land (any land vested in, or under the control of, Council except for roads, Crown Land, or a common) falls into these two categories.  Community land is generally open to the public and includes parks, reserves and sports grounds.  Operational land is generally land held as a temporary asset or used by Council to carry out its functions (work depots and garages) or to provide car parking.  Community land cannot be sold and cannot be leased or licensed for more than 21 years.  This means that Council’s ability to trade, lease or use Community Land to implement its adopted Strategy is limited.  No such restrictions apply to Operational Land.  Operational Land can also continue to be used for community purposes.

 

Council’s Property Development Department has identified that the land set out in Table 1 (and identified in Appendix 1) should be reclassified from Community Land to Operational Land.  The land includes Kokoda Park, part of Lang Park, and the area of car parking between the Station Plaza Shopping Centre and Queen Street.  It should be noted that Lang Park consists of eight lots, six of which are already Operational Land, and the road reserve that remains from Kokoda Place.  This road reserve is currently subject to a road closure application due to be completed by the end of 2014.

 

No

Name

Address(es)

Property Description(s)

Area (m2)

1

Station Street Car Park

(approx. 140 Spaces)

45 Station Street

Lot 9 DP 840717

5,457

2

Kokoda Park

23-27 Carinya Avenue

Lot 2 DP 1156169

8,406

3

Lang Park

1a Carinya Avenue

Lot 5 DP 609430

8,191

1 Kokoda Court

Lot 301 DP 609746

1,930

Kokoda Place

Road Reserve

1,078

4

Lane

100A Queen Street

Lot A DP 164781

340

Total

25,402

Table 1: Land in St Marys Town Centre identified for Reclassification

 

The Reclassification Process

The reclassification process requires the amendment of LEP 2010 via a Planning Proposal.  A Planning Proposal is a document that explains the intended effect of and provides justification for the proposed amendment. 

 

The content of the Planning Proposal is guided by a framework of legislation and practice notes published by the Department of Planning and Environment (the Department).  In this instance, the Planning Proposal will need to:

·    Outline the consistency of the amendment with strategic planning documents;

·    Identify community benefits;

·    Explain how and why Council came to own the public land;

·    Analyse the current use (open space and car parking) of the Community Land and whether these uses need to be replaced or relocated (in either their current or a different form); and

·    Outline any financial gain or loss and of the type of benefit that could arise from the reclassification of the public land.

 

Once the Planning Proposal has been prepared, it needs to be sponsored by Council (acting as the relevant planning authority) before it can be submitted to and progressed through the Department’s Gateway Process (the mechanism for making and amending local environmental plans).  This process includes requirements to publicly exhibit the Planning Proposal for at least 28 days and hold an independently chaired public hearing at least 21 days after the close of the exhibition period.  Given the nature and extent of the public engagement required for this matter, this process will take a minimum of 12 months.

 

To streamline the plan making and amending process, the Minister for Planning has delegated certain plan making and amending powers to Council for routine matters such as strategy consistent rezonings, minor map amendments and the reclassification of public land.  It is recommended that to reduce the timeframe for the reclassification process, that Council requests the use of its delegated authority when submitting the Planning Proposal to the Gateway Process.

 

Proposed Next Steps

The submission of the Planning Proposal to the Gateway Process before the end of the year, will likely result in the issue of a Gateway Determination in early 2015.  This Gateway Determination will advise Council if it should proceed with the Planning Proposal.  The Determination will also set out requirements for Council’s consultation exercise and identify any refinements to the Planning Proposal.

 

A Gateway Determination will potentially allow the consultation with New South Wales Government Agencies and the public exhibition of the Planning Proposal with an independently chaired public hearing to follow.  Council will then be presented with the results of the public exhibition and the public hearing to inform its decision on whether or not to proceed with the Planning Proposal.

 

Conclusion 

Apart from the economic benefits that can potentially accrue from the revitalisation of the Town Centre through new developments, there are also many social and environmental benefits. A town centre, which contains a high quality public realm and a range of activities to attract visitors, creates a positive image for the region and engenders a strong sense of community pride. It also provides for a healthy lifestyle enabling people to walk or cycle to a variety of destinations thus reducing car dependency and increasing opportunities for community interaction and hence community ‘connectedness’.

 

There is significant interest in developing sites in and around the Town Centre in accordance with the adopted Strategy.  This makes a strong case to advance the necessary work to make the Town Centre ready for appropriate development.  Given the time required to reclassify public land it would be prudent to commence the process as soon as possible to avoid lengthy delays for any emerging development opportunities that require the use of public land and deliver the adopted Strategy.

 

The reclassification of public land does not commit Council to the sale or development of that land, nor does it alienate the land from Council’s ownership or prevent the current use of that land from continuing.

 

RECOMMENDATION

That:

1.     The information contained in the report on Reclassification of Certain Public Land in St Marys Town Centre be received.

2.     A Planning Proposal reclassifying the public land identified in Appendix 1 from Community Land to Operational Land be sponsored for submission to the Department of Planning and Environment’s Gateway Process.

3.     The Minister be requested to delegate her authority for Council to finalise and make the proposed amendment to Penrith Local Environmental Plan 2010 be requested.

4.     Consultation with New South Wales Government Agencies be undertaken in accordance with any Gateway Determination issued by the Department of Planning and Environment.

5.     The Planning Proposal be placed on public exhibition in accordance with any Gateway Determination issued by the Department of Planning and Environment.

6.     An independently chaired public hearing be held at least 21 days after the close of the public exhibition period.

7.     A planning consultant be engaged to independently chair the public hearing.

8.     A report be presented to Council on the submissions received during the public exhibition and the results of the public hearing.   

 

 

ATTACHMENTS/APPENDICES

1.  

Land in St Marys Town Centre Identified for Reclassification

1 Page

Appendix

  


Policy Review Committee Meeting                                                                          10 November 2014

Appendix 1 - Land in St Marys Town Centre Identified for Reclassification

 

PDF Creator

 


 

 

 

 

THIS PAGE HAS BEEN LEFT BLANK  INTENTIONALLY


 

 

Outcome 3 - We can get around the City

 

 

There were no reports under this Delivery Program when the Business Paper was compiled


 

 

 

 

THIS PAGE HAS BEEN LEFT BLANK  INTENTIONALLY


Outcome 4 - We have safe, vibrant places

 

Item                                                                                                                                       Page

 

4        Reclassification of Council Owned Land in St Marys Town Centre                                29

 

 

 



Policy Review Committee Meeting                                                            10 November 2014

 

 

 

4

Reclassification of Council Owned Land in St Marys Town Centre   

 

Compiled by:               Chris Moulang, Property Development Manager

Authorised by:            Barry Husking, Assistant General Manager and Chief Financial Officer  

 

Outcome

We have safe, vibrant places

Strategy

Grow and revitalise our centres and neighbourhoods

Service Activity

Utilise Council's property portfolio to stimulate growth and development opportunities in the City

      

 

Executive Summary

This report seeks Council endorsement to commence the statutory process to reclassify identified Council owned land located within the St Marys Town Centre.

 

Council owns a number of sites in the St Marys Town Centre that form part of the area identified in the adopted St Marys Town Centre Strategy (2006) that are zoned B4 – Mixed Use. 

 

Public land (any land vested in, or under the control of, Council except for roads, Crown Land, or a common) falls into two categories:

 

·    Community land is generally open to the public and includes parks, reserves and sports grounds and

·    Operational land is generally land held as a temporary asset or used by Council to carry out its functions or to provide car parking.

 

Community land cannot be sold and cannot be leased or licensed for more than 21 years.  No such restrictions apply to operational land. Importantly, operational land can continue to be used as community land.

 

Over the years a number of development proposals have been presented to Council which have included mixed use and high density developments, along with the expansion and redevelopment of the two shopping centres (Station Plaza and St Marys Village). Both of these developments have been contemplated over Council owned land, which is zoned B4- Mixed Use.

 

There is currently a contradiction between Council’s adopted strategic or long term options for this land and the classification of this land as ‘community’. The reclassification process is a key step in achieving the strategic objectives set out within the St Marys Town Centre Strategy.  This process in no way will alienate Council’s land ownership, or change the current use of the land. 

 

On 8 October 2014, the Economic Opportunities Working Party supported the need to commence the reclassification process for the St Marys Town Centre.  The process of reclassification is expected to take in excess of 12 months to complete through the Department of Planning and Environment’s ‘Gateway Process’.

 

 

Planning Proposal

 

The proposed reclassification of public land needs to be delivered via a planning proposal that amends Penrith LEP 2010. The process for the preparation of a planning proposal is set out in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act).  It is necessary for the planning proposal to satisfy the requirements of the EP&A Act and identify any additional studies or information that should be prepared to support the planning proposal proceeding to a gateway determination.

 

Should a Gateway Determination for the planning proposal be granted, formal consultation with the State Agencies and the community commences. The reclassification of land also requires a public hearing. The public hearing will be held after the public exhibition of the draft LEP for reclassification.

 

The planning proposal should include commentary on:

 

·    the history of the land and the reasons for its acquisition as this becomes important in its status as community land and the process for changing the classification,

 

·    an indication, as a minimum, of the magnitude of any financial gain or loss from the reclassification and of the type(s) of benefit that could arise and

 

·    the asset management objectives being pursued, the manner in which they will be achieved and the type of benefits the council wants.

 

About The Sites

 

The sites that have been identified for reclassification are noted below and shown in Attachment 1.

 

No

Name

Address(es)

Property Description(s)

Area (m2)

1

Station Street Car Park

(approx. 140 Spaces)

45 Station Street

Lot 9 DP 840717

5,457

2

Kokoda Park

23-27 Carinya Avenue

Lot 2 DP 1156169

8,406

3

Lang Park1

1a Carinya Avenue

Lot 5 DP 609430

8,191

1 Kokoda Court

Lot 301 DP 609746

1,930

Kokoda Place2

Road Reserve

1,078

4

Lane

100A Queen Street

Lot A DP 164781

340

Total

25,402

Notes:

1Lang Park is located on 8 lots and the Kokoda Place Road Reserve. 6 of the 8 lots are classified as Operational Land.

2 Kokoda Place is currently subject to a road closure application due to be completed before the end of the year.  Council has previously resolved to classify the future parcel of this land as Community.

 

The sites are currently zoned B4 - Mixed Use under Penrith Local Environmental Plan 2010.

 

 

Kokoda Place

 

On 15 April 2013 Council resolved to submit an application to Crown Lands recommending the permanent legal closure of the remaining part of Kokoda Place (Court), St Marys.

 

Further to the above, on 26 May 2014, Council endorsed to proceed with submitting the application to NSW Trade and Investment, (Crown Lands) to permanently close this road and at this meeting resolved that the land be classified ‘community’.

 

At the time of this resolution, Council was not in a position to consider the commencement of the reclassification process for all the sites referred to above and an ‘operational’ classification was not supported at the time.

 

The road closure of Kokoda Place is expected to be completed by late 2014 / early 2015.  Upon closure of the road, Council can resolve to classify this land as ‘operational’. Should Council support the reclassification of the sites proposed by this report, it would be prudent for Council to resolve an amendment to the previous resolution (26 May 2014) and seek an ‘operational’ classification over the closed road.

 

Conclusion

 

The reclassification of land identified in this report to operational will provide consistency with the zoning of the land and assist Council to achieve the adopted strategic objectives in the St Marys Town Centre Strategy. With increased developer interest in commercial opportunities in St Marys Town Centre, it would be prudent for Council to be ready to act on opportunities as they are presented.  Any change of use of the land would be a matter for later consideration by Council.

 

RECOMMENDATION

That:

1.    The information contained in the report on Reclassification of Council Owned Land in St Marys Town Centre be received.

2.    As a land owner, Council commence the statutory process to reclassify identified Council owned land as stated within this report.

3.    The resultant parcel of land from the proposed closure of Kokoda Place be classified as ‘operational’ land.

 

 

ATTACHMENTS/APPENDICES

1.  

Land to be reclassified in St Marys Town Centre

1 Page

Appendix

  


Policy Review Committee Meeting                                                                          10 November 2014

Appendix 1 - Land to be reclassified in St Marys Town Centre

 

Appendix 1:  Land to be reclassified in St Marys Town Centre


 

 

 

 

THIS PAGE HAS BEEN LEFT BLANK  INTENTIONALLY


 

 

Outcome 5 - We care about our environment

 

 

There were no reports under this Delivery Program when the Business Paper was compiled


 

 

 

 

THIS PAGE HAS BEEN LEFT BLANK  INTENTIONALLY


Outcome 6 - We're healthy and share strong community spirit

 

Item                                                                                                                                       Page

 

5        Macarthur Real Estate Engagement Project                                                                   38

 

 

 



Policy Review Committee Meeting                                                            10 November 2014

 

 

 

5

Macarthur Real Estate Engagement Project   

 

Compiled by:               Vesna Kapetanovic, Community Projects Officer 

Authorised by:            Tracy Leahy, Acting Community and Cultural Development Manager 

Requested By:            Councillor Karen McKeown

 

Outcome

We are healthy and share strong community spirit

Strategy

Provide opportunities for our community to be healthy and active

Service Activity

Resource and implement social programs that contribute to community wellbeing

 

Presenters:                  Eva Gerencer, Strategic Development Manager - Western Sydney Community Forum - Macarthur Real Estate Engagement Project      

 

Executive Summary

The Macarthur Real Estate Engagement Project aims to support new and existing tenants of Real Estate agents to help prevent them from entering the homelessness service system. The Project uses a collaborative approach to address the needs of those at risk of homelessness, using existing resources of the service system. The aim is to build positive relationships with Real Estate Agents through the achievement of positive outcomes by reducing evictions and saving tenancies.

 

Background

 

The Macarthur Real Estate Engagement Project was identified through the Metro South West Sector Facilitation Project, in response to the difficulties in transitioning clients from the Specialist Homelessness System (SHS) into private rentals and reducing the increasing number of tenants that are evicted from the private market. These difficulties have placed additional strain on the services of the Housing NSW system as well as the SHS.

 

In late 2011, a working group of homelessness services, government agencies and a local real estate agent came together to implement a new way of supporting tenants at risk of eviction from the private market. This working group formalised as a project and identified various ways the service system could engage real estate agents and develop stronger partnerships.

 

The focus of this project is to develop a referral pathway to be utilised by real estate agents to provide assistance to tenants. The project streamlines the referral process for local services and coordinates assistance for these clients. By targeting real estate agents who have tenants that are experiencing difficulties in sustaining their tenancies, the project has opened up a new pathway into the service system at an early intervention point rather than at crisis point.

 

From the perspective of real estate agents, the project provides one point of referral (one-stop shop) for struggling tenants. Feedback from real estate agents has been that the service system is confusing and that when they have tried to get assistance for clients, e.g. through government agencies such as Housing and Centrelink, they have been frustrated with waiting times and inconsistent information.

 

An outstanding feature of this project is that it utilises existing resources of the service system and receives no specific funding.

 

The Project Model

 

The following diagram illustrates the project model highlighting the role of the Working Group to develop an effective referral pathway to assist real estate agents and tenants and the anticipated outcomes.

circles

 

Key Elements of the Project Model

 

Project Working Group Members and Stakeholders

 

The Working Group of key government and non-government stakeholders is a critical component of the project model and represents a diverse range of services with strong local connections in Macarthur:

 

The Macarthur Real Estate Engagement Project Working Group comprises of representatives from:

 

§ Real Estate Industry (advisory capacity)

§ Hume Community Housing Association

§ Argyle Community Housing

§ St Vincent De Paul

§ Uniting Care Burnside – The Drum Youth Resource Centre

§ Department of Human Services – Centrelink Division

§ Sector Connect (Community Sector Peak Organisation)

§ Western Sydney Community Forum

§ Family and Community Services including Housing NSW

 

These agencies provide direct practical financial assistance (Housing NSW, Centrelink, NGOs with brokerage programs), housing assistance (Housing NSW and Community Housing Providers), case coordination and management (Non-Government Organisations and SHS providers) and administrative support (Community Services NSW - secretariat, Sector Connect - data collection) and Western Sydney Community Forum – evaluation).

 

The role of the Working Group is to provide:

 

§ Ongoing advice and input on the service systems and service delivery of the project including reviewing and endorsing all relevant documents

§ A system for SHS providers and other stakeholders to refer client for the securing of tenancies

§ A referral pathway for tenants at risk of eviction

§ A relationship framework that demonstrates partnerships, sharing ideas and information

§ Leadership to oversee the project in accordance with the terms of reference and procedures and Memorandum of Understanding.

 

Linkages to the Real Estate Industry

 

One of the working group members is a semi-retired real estate agent whose role it is to act as an “industry translator” assisting and guiding the working party to better target the project’s message to real estate agents. As a local agent, this member was also instrumental in connecting his contacts and business partner into the project.

 

Furthermore, representatives from Hume Community Housing and Argyle Community Housing were formerly employed in the real estate industry and their involvement has also assisted in refocusing the message to real estate agents through communicating in a similar manner, using the ‘same language’.

 

Administration and Convening of the Working Group

 

As the project has developed, the administration and convening systems and communication have become increasingly important. This ensures that there is shared understanding and commitment to actioning referrals on time and is critical in presenting a consistent and professional image to real estate agents and ensuring their on-going involvement.

Data collection has been an ongoing challenge and it is anticipated that the new data capture system will provide consistent data for future evaluation.

 

Streamlined referral process for real estate agents

 

At the commencement of the project, there were 4 referral points in to the project. This approach was undertaken to include all partners at the time and maintain their engagement with the project. However, this proved confusing for real estate agents and in 2013 it was agreed to establish one centralised referral point into the project managed by Uniting Care Burnside, which has proven to be more effective.

 

Project Outcomes to Date

 

Since the project commenced in late February, 2012 there have been:

 

§ 102 referrals

§ 57 tenancies saved

§ Approximately 77% success rate for tenants who were able to be contacted.

§ Estimated 50% of tenants referred to the Project had never been in contact with the service system.

The Future for the Project

 

The re-launch of Macarthur Real Estate Engagement Project to the local real estate industry in Macarthur was held in April 2014. This work undertaken by Western Sydney Community Forum in late 2013/ early 2014 has enabled internal processes to be strengthened and marketing material to be better targeted to property managers.

 

The data systems for this project have been an ongoing challenge and it is hoped that there will be more detailed data for analysis and evaluation in the future.

 

Transferability of Project Model to other areas

 

The Project Working Group has ascertained that the structure of the project, including both key elements and operational aspects of the project model can be transferred to other Local Government Areas. This project model operates without specific funding, however staff resourcing is essential for communication, development of processes and ongoing evaluation.  It has been noted that established strategic partnerships, effective communication and skilled leadership are critical success factors to this project. 

 

Current Initiatives in Penrith

 

A range of local services have successful partnerships with local real estate agents, however it is understood that this work is taking place on an ad hoc basis with no formal systems in place. Services have reported that it can be difficult in maintaining the engagement of real estate agents and communicating in mutually appropriate manner. Services indicated other challenges include the competitive environment community organisations are operating in which can affect partnerships, collaboration and working relationships. There is interest from local community organisations in exploring this project model further and investigating how it could work most effectively in Penrith.

 

Conclusion

 

The Macarthur Real Estate Engagement Project has been successful in its approach to engage Real Estate Agents, community and government agencies to support an effective way in working with private tenants that are at risk of eviction. This project has reduced evictions and the strain placed on government and community agencies for accommodation services. The development of effective referral pathways and the provision of specialised services have ensured the success of this project. The project model for the Macarthur Real Estate Engagement Project requires no specific funding and is reliant more on organisational commitment and capacity to lead and implement the project. 

 

 

RECOMMENDATION

That the information contained in the report on Macarthur Real Estate Engagement Project be received.

 

 

ATTACHMENTS/APPENDICES

There are no attachments for this report.  


 

 

Outcome 7 - We have confidence in our Council

 

 

There were no reports under this Delivery Program when the Business Paper was compiled