UPDATE JANUARY 16
Tradies says it’s proposed key worker accommodation project at Gymea is one of the first developments of its kind in Sydney.
In a statement issued on Monday, Southern District Trade Union Club (Tradies) said it was well on the way to constructing the “ground-breaking development at its Gymea headquarters, providing key worker accommodation for up to 20 paramedics, police, nurses and teachers”.
“We recognised that the cost of housing in the Sutherland Shire is pricing many key workers out of the market, so we are building 23 units exclusively for key workers,” chief executive Tim McAleer said.
Mr McAleer said this was one of the first developments of its kind in Sydney designed to assist key workers with long-term affordable rental housing.
“Politicians have been raising key worker housing as an emerging issue for the community for several years and the club has decided that it needs to support our emergency workers and teachers with affordable accommodation,” he said.
Mr McAleer said the community depended on the contribution key workers made to the community’s safety and security, and to educate our children.
Affordable accommodation was a good way for Tradies to continue the club’s tradition of supporting the local community, he said.
“We have a significant number of members who are nurses and teachers as well as ‘tradies’, and they are saying it is extremely hard to find affordable accommodation close to work,” he said.
“The whole community needs to make sure there are enough paramedics, police, nurses and teachers in Sydney to serve the growing demand for services.
“Everyone knows that government workers are paid less than many other workers in the community.”
Mr McAleer said the proposal would provide small unit-type accommodation for key workers who would pay below market rents of between $350 and $450 a week.
This compared with present market rents in the shire of “around $650 to $700 a week for a two-bedroom apartment and $1200 or more for a four-bedroom house, well out of the reach of rental”.
Mr McAleer said the club would manage the units directly to make sure they were being leased only to key workers.
He said claims that the units would house drug addicts and former prison inmates was incorrect.
“Our club canvassed widely about how to best support the community through using our financial assets and adjacent land holdings,” he said.
“This key worker housing concept was the idea that made the most sense.
“Tradies donates more than a million dollars to local community and sporting groups every year and the key worker accommodation plan fits the traditions and values our club holds dear.
“At the same time the club is working towards building this key-worker accommodation, it will also be building a new child-care centre to cater for 143 local children, with care provided at an affordable fee level.”
JANUARY 13 STORY
Tradies chief executive Tim McAleer says an affordable housing development the club plans to build at Gymea will be specifically for key workers, who are being priced out of the rental market.
Mr McAleer said occupants would include police, paramedics, nurses, firefighters and teachers – not people in drug rehabilitation or just out of prison, as a resident suggested.
“We will decide who goes in there and who doesn’t,” he said.
“We will manage this property, as we do our others, for their entire life span.
”It will have common spaces, a full time manager and rents that are at least 20 per cent below market value.”
The development application said the building in cul-de-sac Lancashire Place would be a modern form of the “longhouse”, which in former times sheltered families and livestock.
It was envisaged the club’s facilities would “provide a hotel lifestyle for many of its tenants and their visitors and families.”
Mr McAleer said there was “a lot of misinformation” among residents about the club’s development applications (DAs) for this project and a childcare centre in Manchester Road.
“No one has bothered to come and talk to me about their concerns,” he said.
“It’s a massive over-reaction because all they are doing is talking to each other.
”I understand their concerns, I understand their fears, but what I don’t understand is the lack of any significant approach to the board or management to say, ‘Why are you doing it?’
“If anyone in the community wants to speak to me on a one to one basis, they just have to pick up the phone.”
Mr McAleer said he had offered to talk to residents when they gathered last Saturday, but was told he would not be welcome.
“Tradies is a good neighbour, and has been in the time I have been here, which is 17 years,” he said.
“We have 56,000 members and, on Friday and Saturday nights there can be 1000 people here, but we don’t get complaints from the police, council or residents.”
Mr McAleer said the club approached Sutherland Shire Council in late 2015 to seek their views about how the sites could be used.
”They didn’t want to get involved, so we went to the LEP (local environmental plan) and saw what the community’s needs were, and we are trying to meet them.
“We don’t believe [the projects] will have any [negative] impact on the community at all.”
The DA for the affordable housing development was lodged under State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009.
”Management of the affordable housing will be conducted on site and will also be in accordance with SEPP requirements,” it said.
It would include 23 new dwellings, “aimed primarily at the essential services sector of the local community (such as health care and education workers) and other industries (including the building industry) who require low cost housing close to their place of employment.”
The DA said the two storey development would include one studio, five one-bedroom units and one two-bedroom units.
“Two boarding rooms in the form of studios will also be provided at the ground floor level, while the first floor level will comprise of 14 boarding rooms, totalling 16 boarding rooms,” the DA said.
Vic Lake Architects said in the DA the project stemmed from a strategic masterplan that was presented to the club’s board in February 2016.
The masterplan had seen Tradies Gymea in the future as a precinct, rather than just a building, with a goal of serving a well-considered and extensive range of services for the community.
It had envisaged the club “to be more than an entertainment hub” and having ”real potential to be a leader in the community in addition to its primary purpose of serving and connecting”