Land sales to drive ACT's public housing overhaul

The ACT government will sell off $500 million of the territory's existing public housing stock, or 700 dwellings, and demolish 300 further dwellings in order to fund the next stage of its public housing renewal program.

Housing Minister Yvette Berry will start to detail the specific measures on how it will implement its plans to redevelop 1000 more public housing dwellings in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.

Housing Minister Yvette Berry (right) speaks to Chief Minister Andrew Barr at teh Legislative Assembly in February. Picture: Karleen Minney

Housing Minister Yvette Berry (right) speaks to Chief Minister Andrew Barr at teh Legislative Assembly in February. Picture: Karleen Minney

While the government released the general outlines of its new public housing strategy late last year, the firm details of what would be sold, where, and how it would ensure replacement stock, have not yet been detailed.

But Ms Berry will tell the Assembly the plans would demolish 300 older dwellings that are close to shops, school and transport - likely to include areas in the inner north and south.

A further 700 dwellings that the government deems to be at the end of their useful life will be sold to private developers across the city to generate an estimated $500 million to invest in 1000 replacement dwellings.

Ms Berry will also start detailing more precise locations of those to be sold off or demolished, as well as 360 new dwellings, through the territory government's indicative land release program.

The plan will also include buying a further 140 dwellings from the private market to help apply its long-standing 'salt and pepper' approach to geographically spreading affordable housing.

The vast majority of the first tranche of new public housing will be located either on redeveloped older sites in inner-north and -south Canberra.

While the government has suggested many sites could be housed on those blocks sold to developers or demolished, it is unclear yet which specific sites will be chosen.

Under that proposal, revealed during annual estimates hearings earlier this year, the government may sell developers older public housing sites, with a condition of sale being providing a certain level of other affordable housing on the same site.

The government has already taken that approach with the recent sales of two large Northbourne Avenue blocks in Dickson and Lyneham, as well as sites in Gungahlin sold to Defence Housing Australia.

The final mix of the delivery program methods will differ from the first housing renewal project, which is due to finish 1288 replacement sites by the end of June.

If the government reaches the completion of old site sales around the city by then, it will qualify for a 15 per cent bonus payment from the Commonwealth under the Abbott-era asset recycling scheme.

The government's controversial first redevelopment program did little to grow the city's overall affordable housing stock, prompting wide criticism of a move interpreted as gentrifying the inner suburbs.

But Ms Berry has promised this will change under phase two, funded by the $500 million in expected new sales, despite continued concerns about the affordability crisis hitting Canberra.

Ms Berry has said the government's initial investment of $100 million into the second public housing renewal phase would help grow the total numbers of dwellings by 200 across the city.

She has not to date identified the sites to be sold, though has also not ruled out selling several large blocks around the inner suburbs with lucrative development potential, such as in Ainslie.

The new plan also currently proposes some 95 of 251 new dwellings in "central Canberra", 69 in Belconnen and 35 in Tuggeranong, 23 in Weston Creek and Molonglo Vallery, 17 in Woden Valley and 12 in Gungahlin.