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Insights from the Urban Housing Lab: Researchers and Practitioners in Conversation

  • Sydney Nanoscience Hub (SNH), Lecture Theatre 4002 (Messel) (map)

Official welcome by the Minister for Planning Hon. MP Anthony Roberts. The conversation on housing affordability often centres around home ownership however a generation of long-term renters emerges what housing outcomes are being delivered. In this session, Professor Nicole Gurran the University of Sydney, draws on recent Lab projects which shine new light on contemporary housing and urban policy problems and potential solutions. This is followed by a discussion with Dr Deborah Dearing, Greater Sydney Commission, Gavin Tonnet, Stockland and Ned Cutcher, Tenants’ Union of NSW who discuss further research and policy priorities.


Free event.
Refreshments available from 6pm. Register here. 


Questions will be moderated at the event. If you have a question please submit to


Hon. MP Anthony Roberts

The Hon Anthony Roberts MP is the Minister for Planning, Housing and The Special Minister of State in the NSW Government. A Member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, he has represented the Electorate of Lane Cove for the Liberal Party since 2003. He has a Masters of Arts in Strategic Communications from Charles Sturt University. Anthony volunteered for military service, enlisting in the Australian Army Reserve and serving for nine years, retiring with the rank of Captain. Elected to Lane Cove Council in 1995, Anthony served two terms as a Councillor, including two years as Mayor.  Anthony has also served as an adviser to Prime Minister John Howard and in other Ministerial roles as the Minister for Fair Trading, Minister for Resources and Energy, and Special Minister of State, Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy. He is particularly interested in improving NSW Housing Affordability.


Professor Nicole Gurran


Nicole Gurran is Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Sydney, where she leads Urban Housing Lab@Sydney and directs the University’s AHURI (Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute) research centre. Nicole’s research focuses on intersections between urban planning and the housing system and she has led and collaborated on a series of studies on aspects of urban policy, housing, sustainability and planning, funded by AHURI, the Australian Research Council, as well as state and local government. She has authored and co-authored numerous publications and books including Politics, Planning and Housing Supply in Australia, England and Hong Kong, with Nick Gallentand Rebecca Chiu (Routledge, July 2016),  Australian Urban Land Use Planning: Principles, Policy, and Practice (2011), and Urban Planning and the housing market (2017, Palgrave, with Glen Bramley). 


Commissioner Deborah Dearing

Dr Deborah Dearing is widely recognised for her leadership in improving the design quality of cities and communities. She has over 30 years of international experience in urban design, strategic land-use planning, heritage conservation, affordable housing and property development in both public and private sectors. Dr Dearing has held senior executive roles with the NSW Department of Planning, Architectus and Stockland, and board positions with the Australian Institute of Architects, City West Housing, Livable Housing Australia and the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust. She has received numerous prestigious awards, including Life Fellowship of the Australian Institute of Architects for service to architecture and urban design, the NAWIC Ryder Hunt Award for leadership in the Construction and Development Industry and the Henry Davis York Prize for Environmental Law. She is a member of Sydney University's Henry Halloran Trust and the NSW Heritage Council.


Gavin Tonnet

Gavin Tonnet has more than 20 years’ experience in property development, having held senior management roles with major global and Australian companies, including Leighton, Mirvac and Sekisui House. Gavin has established and led major residential and mixed use property businesses throughout his career, and has been responsible for more than $20 billion of projects in this time. These projects have included some of Australia’s most significant urban renewal projects. 

Gavin is head of Stockland's national growth strategy in Apartment and Mixed Use, and has also been responsible for Stockland’s $4.5b NSW residential development pipeline. With qualifications in Science, Architecture and Business Administration, Gavin has a considered, strategic ability to deliver world class precincts that add to the innovation and evolution of cities.


Ned Cutcher  


Ned Cutcher has been promoting and advancing the interests of renters for many years, having worked and volunteered in numerous Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Services and Community Legal Centres since 2002. Coming from a broad social justice perspective, his experience working with low-income renters in Tasmania, Western Sydney and the NSW Central Coast has prompted a particular commitment to housing justice. This work also lead him to pursue and obtain a degree in law. He joined the Tenants' Union of NSW's policy team in 2009, and has been their Senior Policy Officer since 2015. He currently sits on the Board of the state's peak advocate for housing justice, Shelter NSW.


Urban Housing Lab

The Urban Housing Lab at The University of Sydney was funded under the Henry Halloran Trust's research incubator scheme in 2015. Drawing together a multi-disciplinary group of scholars and practitioner-researchers with expertise across urban planning and geography, big data and informatics, housing, and economics, the Lab’s work now ranges from government levers for housing supply and affordability through to the global financialisation of real estate, urban inequality, health, and the “smart city”.