Subsidised homes in Frenchs Forest must be ‘priority’

Wakehurst MP Michael Regan has challenged the State Government to allocate half of the new houses slated for the forthcoming Frenchs Forest precinct for essential workers.

Frenchs Forest High School is relocating to Allambie Heights in 2025 and the government has deemed the area a ‘strategic centre’. The first stage was construction of the Northern Beaches Hospital, with building of 2,000 new homes the next phase of the ‘2041 strategy’.

Mr Regan told PL that Frenchs Forest was ‘shovel ready’ for construction of new homes as early as halfway through next year and the government – which owns the land – should seize the ‘unique opportunity’ to use federal funding to boost the level of affordable housing. The Federal Government has created the Housing Australia Future Fund for lower socio-economic groups.

“I urge the premier and his cabinet to look seriously at this site as an opportunity not to miss and help resolve a growing crisis in our local area,” Mr Regan said.

The State Government has already dedicated a minimum of 15 per cent of new homes in the Frenchs Forest precinct as ‘affordable housing’. This allows essential workers including doctors, nurses, bus drivers and teachers access to discounted rent. Mr Regan is pushing for at least 50 per cent to be allocated to these workers to address a critical worker shortage. While there has been a dramatic increase in bus driver numbers across Sydney, the Northern Beaches was mentioned in January as an area which still needed more. Mr Regan said school principals had told him attracting teachers to the region was difficult.

“They cannot fill positions even though the teachers want to work here as the schools have got great reputations. A teacher will take a job then within a few days, say, ‘I’ve tried to find (housing) that’s affordable and I can’t’. So they go elsewhere.”

As one of several independents in the year-old State Parliament, the Wakehurst MP has already gained the ear of Premier Chris Minns, with the Labor leader saying on ABC Sydney after Mr Regan’s announcement: “When people like Mr Regan talk, we listen carefully.”

The Wakehurst MP, who is still on council, said he would be meeting the premier and housing minister soon to discuss his proposal. Mr Regan’s plea comes as the government attempts to shake up zonings across Sydney in an attempt to create more housing density. Council objects to proposals such as higher multi-storey apartment towers, arguing it would change the ‘character’ of the Northern Beaches.