Case study: Ningana, Annandale, Sydney (NSW)
Ningana is a housing co-operative in Annandale, Sydney. The co-op was set up by a squatter community after the building had been left empty for 6 or so years, and continues to be an inspiring example of affordable community living.
At the end of last year I had to the opportunity to visit a housing co-operative with a bit of history in Annandale in Sydney. It is called Ningana.
It all started when a group of eight squatters occupied the building in 1981 after it had been left empty for around 6 years despite an urgent need for affordable housing. The squatters set up the housing co-operative. In the article below, published in CENSW 2015 annual report, field officer Paul Simes looks back on Ningana’s history and how they came about.
Ningana is a block of around 50 flats. It was built in the 1970’s. Most of the units are bedsits/studios, there are a few 1-bed apartments. The units are small, at a guess somewhere around 25-30 sqm, but functional, private and affordable.
What struck me is how a building which is now nearly 50 years old has been adapted over time. To increase liveability and provide extra space for the residents, some of the individual units have been combined and converted to common space. Most floors now have a shared kitchen and living area at the end of the corridor. Other rooms had been converted to a space for guests, or yoga/meditation. The community housing provider, Common Equity NSW, is slowly doing up rooms as they become vacant.
While there is no elevator in the building, and this can become an issue when people get older or have disabilities, the trip to the roof top is worth it. Here is the common laundry, and what is exciting is that the this space is being converted into a roof top terrace. The views over the city are quite spectacular.
What I saw on the ground floor was equally impressive. Living in an area well services by public transport, the residents have less need for cars, and thus onsite parking. There are about 17 parking bays left for 50 odd apartments, a ratio of around 1 in 3. The rest of the space has been converted to a workshop, bike parking, storage, a gym. There also is some well maintained green space.
Did I mention that the complex continues to provide affordable housing? A third is market rent, and two thirds of residents are on rebated rent. If you are not working or lost your job, you can apply for rental assistance. Residents are about 50/50 men and women. The residents self-manage the complex. There are monthly meetings, and you are expected to take an active role on the committee or one of the working groups. An example may be to keep a certain area in the building clean.
Much has happened since those early squatter days, but one thing remains the same: Ningana continues to be a successful demonstration of the co-operative self-help model and community living.