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Consultation concerns over Redfern-Waterloo plan

Residents’ group REDWatch are concerned about the public consultation process for the Redfern Waterloo Authority’s (RWA) recently released blueprint for public housing in the area reports Michael Davis in City News on 24 February 2011.

The Draft Built Environment Plan Stage 2, which proposes to allow some 3,500 new dwellings in the area over 20-25 years, will be on exhibition for a period of slightly over four weeks, a time frame REDWatch claims is insufficient.

REDWatch spokesperson, Geoff Turnbull, says that the neighbourhood demographics – with a high percentage of older residents and many for whom English is not a first language – should have necessitated a much longer and more interactive process.

“Even if the plan contained all the information required and the consultation process was flawless, a month exhibition is not sufficient time for a diverse community to gain an understanding of what is proposed and to make a considered response,” he said.

According to Mr Turnbull, only a few printed copies of the plan have been made available on public display boards in an area where internet access is very low, particularly among public housing tenants.

“The Government has been working on it behind closed doors for seven years now and to simply say ‘come along to our exhibitions’ for four weeks… in this community it’s not going to allow the complex messages to get across,” he said.

Many years with little tangible progress in the development of public housing has created a sense of apathy among some residents, says Mr Turnbull.

The BEP2, which was first made available to the public on 27 January, outlines the Government’s aim to achieve a mix of 60 per cent private and affordable housing and 40 per cent social housing in the area. According to the plan, there will be 2,800 social housing dwellings, 700 affordable housing dwellings and 3,500 private dwellings added to the Redfern-Waterloo area.

REDWatch also expressed some apprehensions about the viability of specific proposals put forth by the RWA, in particular the Government’s ability to fund the proposed construction.

A statement on 18 February states: “REDWatch’s main concern is that future governments may not commit to the level of funds necessary to top up the funds gained by sales of public land to developers to deliver on the promises to public housing residents.”

“Without this funding the low-rises could be developed as private housing leaving public tenants in un-renovated high-rise and surrounding infill units rather than spread across the development.”

The RWA has held a series of information sessions over the past three weeks as part of the consultation process.

The next and final sessions will be held on Thursday, 24 February between 10am-12pm and 2-4pm at Redfern Town Hall.

Housing NSW has in addition, organised a series of daily street corner meetings for the week which conclude on Friday, 25 February.

Residents have until 28 February to make a submission or comment in response to the plan.

For more information please visit www.redfernwaterloo.nsw.gov.au/bep2 or www.redwatch.org.au/

Source: www.altmedia.net.au/consultation-concerns-over-redfern-waterloo-plan/31772