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Building on cooked figures

The flaws in the second stage of the Built Environment Plan (BEP2) for the redevelopment of NSW housing sites in Redfern and Waterloo are indicative of a government that has no regard for public housing, according to the NSW upper house MP David Shoebridge writes Jason Marshall in City Hub of 5 January 2012.

The plan in which developers are given the opportunity to build private housing in exchange for renovating existing public housing, has been heavily criticised for removing 700 public housing units without a proper plan to relocate them and for attempting to radically change the social mix of the area.

REDWatch Spokesperson Geoffrey Turnbull doesn’t buy the social mix argument.

“The social mix thing is really the Trojan horse or the ideological argument as to why you need to do it, but really it’s driven by what makes the economics of the project work,” he said.

“The 60/40 figure is what they think they can get a developer to sign up to in a public/private partnership here that will make sense for the developer and give them what they can get out of it.”

“The sort of indication that there is a social mix problem tends to be that property prices are depressed, you could not say this is the case in Redfern or Waterloo.”

Mr Turnbull said if you take into account the entire suburb, the social mix quota works out to be below what is required for a 60/40 split.

“We are [also] very suspicious about the 700 actually finding a home somewhere else in the city of Sydney,” he said.

“We don’t think the 700 should have to move out.”

75 per cent of submissions from the community opposed the plan.

Mr Turnbull is concerned the complex intersection between the policy, the planning controls and a federally funded master plan may result in privatisation and redevelopment of part of the project without the provision of more public housing and renovation of the high rises.

“In the absence of there being commitment from government to ensure that the high rises are renovated, in the absence of a decision that requires government funding, you could end up with the demolition of the low rise, the redistribution of those tenants across Sydney and the rest of public housing confined to the towers,” he said.

“REDWatch wants to see a comprehensive plan, without winners and losers, that works for the community and all the public tenants”

“The Greens are very much on the side of the community who are opposed to BEP2,” Mr Shoebridge said.

“We would hope that there would be a full review, a back to basics review, where we look at the whole of the Redfern-Waterloo community and don’t just isolate the public housing and we look at making the existing community work better,” he said.

“You don’t destroy a community based on cooked figures.”

By Jason Marshall

Source: www.altmedia.net.au/building-on-cooked-figures/46524