Chapter 3 Proposed development and construction of housing for Defence
members and their families at Lindfield, NSW
Defence Housing Australia (DHA) seeks approval to construct dwellings
for Australian Defence Force (Defence) personnel at a site at Lindfield,
DHA will develop road and civil infrastructure on the site and construct
345 dwellings for an integrated residential community for Defence and other
families, with 173 dwellings for Defence use.
The purpose of the project is to maintain or reduce the number of
Defence personnel and their families residing in private rental accommodation
in the Sydney area. The project also aims to replace housing returned to
investors at end of lease and replace existing housing that no longer meets
The cost of the project is $202 million.
This proposed development and construction project was referred to the
Committee on 9 May 2012.
Conduct of the inquiry
Following referral, the inquiry was advertised in The Australian on
30 May 2012 and the Northside Courier (Lindfield-Chatswood, NSW) on 22
The Committee received one submission and three supplementary
submissions from DHA and a confidential supplementary submission detailing the
project costs. A list of submissions can be found at Appendix A.
The Committee conducted a site inspection, public hearing and an
in-camera hearing on the project costs on 3 July 2012 in Sydney.
A transcript of the public hearing and the submissions to the inquiry
are available on the Committee’s website.
Need for the works
Approximately 2,450 Defence personnel with dependents reside in the
Sydney area, not including the neighbouring areas of Liverpool, Richmond and
Glenbrook. The majority of these personnel work in or around the Sydney CBD.
Rent Allowance (RA) is the provision of an allowance to assist members
in sourcing their own accommodation in the private rental market. The
proportion of families in Sydney receiving RA is 35.9 per cent, significantly
higher than the Defence and DHA target of 15 per cent.
The shortfall to meet the 15 percent target is about 360 dwellings. DHA
must also factor in the ‘churn’ created by leased houses reaching end of lease
requiring replacement. The Lindfield proposal would provide 173 dwellings and
enable DHA to significantly reduce the proportion of Defence families in
private rental accommodation and receiving RA.
In Sydney, there are limited opportunities to construct housing on-base
and other regular DHA development options are not feasible or have not been
able to keep up with the Defence housing requirement and the churn created by
end of lease. DHA stated that the purchase and development of the Lindfield
site assists in meeting the need for Defence housing in the Sydney area.
The Committee is satisfied that there is a need for the works.
Scope of the works
The project will involve road and civil infrastructure development prior
to the construction of 345 dwellings for Defence and other families. This
includes 10 dwelling lots, 25 townhouses and 310 apartments. The proposal is
consistent with the University of Technology Sydney
Ku-ring-gai Concept Plan, and involves
the provision of infrastructure to support dwelling construction in five
housing precincts on the site.
Subject to Parliamentary approval, civil construction is planned to
commence by November 2012, with dwelling construction commencing progressively
from June 2013 and being completed progressively from November 2014. The
project is planned to be completed by June 2017.
The Committee finds that the proposed scope of works is suitable to meet
Cost of the works
The overall project cost is $202 million, including GST but excluding
the cost of the land.
The cost will be met by DHA and will be recovered through the sale of
individual lots, dwellings and the sale of DHA constructed dwellings through its
Sale and Lease Back program.
The Committee is satisfied that the costings for the project provided to
it have been adequately assessed by the proponent agency.
The site is subject to bushfire threat. The boundary between the site
and Lane Cove National Park is proposed to be managed as an Asset Protection
In accordance with the Ministerial consent and NSW
requirements and standards, the development will be surrounded with a
substantial bushfire Asset Protection Zone (APZ) incorporating a range of
bushfire protection measures set out in the site-specific Bushfire Management
Plan (BMP). These measures will be implemented as part of this first stage of
development and subsequently through dwelling construction. The APZ will reduce
the potential impact of bushfires on the development and the surrounding
DHA stated that the Rural Fire Service has approved the Bushfire
The APZ will be managed to reduce the fuel for a bushfire. It will be:
… structured into two different areas, an inner zone and an
outer zone. The inner zone, which is close to the buildings, has a loading of
around three to four tonnes of vegetation per hectare. The outer zone has a
loading of around 10 tonnes per hectare. I will compare that to what a forest
might look like. If you take a very dense forest as being 100 per cent loading,
the Lane Cove National Park is only at about 70 per cent, the outer APZ will be
at 30 per cent and the inner APZ will be at 15 per cent, so it is basically like
a manicured national park.
A bushfire is likely to come from the Lane Cove National Park, and
advance up the hill toward the site. DHA accepts that this may make the
situation worse, however maintains that once residents leave the site, they are
out of danger:
… it is only a few hundred metres until you are over the hill
and down the other side. They are wide roads. They are 20-odd metres wide
roads, I understand, so they are quite wide roads. You can very quickly get
into a very low bushfire prone area.
Within the site, the houses will be designed in accordance with the
codes for bushfire-prone areas and the large central playing field creates an
evacuation area. However, there is only one exit route from the site, Eton
The Committee expressed concern that the single access road could be
blocked by a fallen tree or a car crash during a bushfire, possibly preventing
residents from exiting the site and police or emergency vehicles from accessing
the site. Smoke, darkness or panicked, last-minute evacuations could increase
the likelihood of a car crash.
However, DHA contended that evacuations would not occur at the last
A fire does not just start and people suddenly decide to
evacuate. It will start, there will be notifications, the fire brigade will be
involved and people will get notification that a high fire-prone day is coming
along and they might or might not need to evacuate. This will start to build up
to a stage where the bushfire association might say it is time to evacuate. So
people would evacuate in an orderly process. It would not be a rush of people;
it would be an orderly evacuation process. Some may choose to stay behind and
protect property, and they are entitled to do that.
The Committee was concerned that the tragedies of past bushfires could
be replicated at Lindfield if the single access road is blocked during a
bushfire. However, the Committee acknowledges that the site meets all
regulations and has been approved by the Rural Fire Service.
Final Committee comment
The Committee was satisfied with the evidence provided by DHA regarding
the proposed development and construction of housing for Defence at Lindfield.
Having regard to its role and responsibilities contained in the Public
Works Committee Act 1969, the Committee is of the view that this project signifies
value for money for the Commonwealth and constitutes a project which is fit for
purpose, having regard to the established need.
||The Committee recommends that the House of Representatives
resolve, pursuant to Section 18(7) of the Public Works Committee Act 1969,
that it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work: Proposed
development and construction of housing for Defence members and their
families at Lindfield, NSW.