In this update, we share and celebrate news of a successful development application for affordable housing in the Sydney suburb of Lakemba.

The outcome is a significant one for the community in question as well as our client, and has taken 3-4 years of considerable and prolonged work.

We congratulate the organisation in question — the Lebanese Muslim Association (LMA) — on what is an important strategic move by a not-for-profit organisation to both provide a critical service to the community and to sure up its own sustainability to allow itself to continue to better serve the community.

We also thank and acknowledge the LMA for trusting us with such an important project many years in the making.

Important strategic decision by NFPs of this nature are to be encouraged and applauded: they result in considerable social impact but in a way that gives the community assurance that that they are built off the back of sustainability considerations. The income streams resulting from this development will allow the LMA to continue to further its important work all the more.

Broad context

For several years, community organisations in Sydney’s west have noted the need for more affordable social housing. 

Sydney (and Australia more broadly) has a significant and growing crisis in social and affordable housing after decades of under-investment by federal and state governments.

In 2018, the Australian Bureau of statistics estimated that there were 116,000 homeless people in Australia at any given time spread over our cities, suburbs and regional areas. 

Women over 55 years of age were the fastest growing cohort. Of the growing homeless people, 17% comprised children under 12 years of age and 10% comprised teenagers between 12 and 18 years of age.

Statistics also paint a bleak picture in terms of social and affordable housing and the chronic shortage in supply. 

Sydney (and Australia more broadly) has a significant and growing crisis in social and affordable housing after decades of under-investment by federal and state governments

In 2019, an Anglicare survey found that fewer than 1% of properties in Greater Sydney and the Illawarra were affordable for singles and families on low incomes. The report noted that NSW would need 200,000 more affordable homes by 2025, and a UNSW City Futures Research Centre report claimed that there would be a need for 650,000 affordable or social housing homes in Australia nationally over the next 15 years.

In the course of work, we are sometimes given the chance to do both legally challenging but also socially rewarding work. 

Our work on this project

There are few recent cases that speak to that theme better than this recent one in which we have obtained court orders approving 23 boarding (affordable) homes for one of western Sydney’s most important and established community organisations: the Lebanese Muslims Association (LMA).

The LMA is known for its important work in Sydney’s west, particularly in areas such as Lakemba, where it is based. It has pioneered important facilities for young people and the community, including a community centre, gym, and funeral facilities. 

Lebanese Muslim Association
The LMA plays an important role in Western Sydney, with this affordable housing project the latest in a series of community-building projects.

One of the LMA’s objectives has been to establish socially affordable housing for constituents of its community. In this regard, we’ve acted for the LMA on achieving approval for this facility, which was proposed to be a three storey residential boarding house containing 23 rooms and associated facilities, including a communal room, one basement level of parking containing 5 car spaces and 3 motorcycle spaces, and 5 bicycle spaces.

The approval process came with significant challenges, and has taken some 3-4 years to finalise. 

The application was opposed by the Canterbury and Bankstown Council on various grounds, with an appeal eventually going to the Land and Environment court. 

On appeal, the court accepted that it was in the “public interest” to grant the development application. 

We would like to congratulate the LMA on this outcome, which will make a real difference to members of the community in that part of Sydney, and are grateful for the opportunity to have worked with them on this application.

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