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Pemulwuy housing project in Redfern nears approval

The Aboriginal Housing Company’s Pemulwuy development plans for the Block at Redfern are nearing final approval from the NSW Planning Minister Kristina Keneally and the Department of Planning reports Robert Burton-Bradley in Central on 22 April 2009.

The development application for Pemulwuy includes 62 new houses for Aboriginal families on Eveleigh St as well as social initiatives to prevent crime and drugs from returning to the area once homes are built.

A cultural centre and other community spaces are also planned.

The Department of Planning has published a submission on the development and the Aboriginal Housing Company’s (AHC) response following the exhibition period last year.

Public submissions included 73 in favour of the project and 17 objecting to the proposal. There were also submissions from the Redfern Waterloo Authority and Sydney Council.

A large number of the objections concerned the community living in and around the Block rather than planning grounds.

The objections criticised the AHC’s ability to effectively manage the project and claimed the new project would become a ghetto of crime and antisocial behaviour.

One objector wrote: “The project will never be completed and will be occupied by vagrants, squatters and other problems”. Another described the Block community as “intimidating and violent.”

A submission by Sydney Council broadly supported the project but questioned whether the development would merely result in the “dispersal of homeless, street drinkers and injecting drug users”.

The council also commented on a “lack of good design”, failure to comply with height and floor space ratio limits, substandard amenity, lack of environmentally sustainable elements and poor layout.

Others complained that the plan did not adequately take commercial or residential zonings into account, and a number questioned the effect of shadowing and scale on neighbouring Caroline St.

The AHC argued that the concept plan was in accordance with local planning instruments and where variations occur it was allowed.

The Redfern Waterloo Authority also made a submission supporting the proposal but raised concerns about the scale of the development compared to the character of surrounding residential terraces. The authority also wrote that safety and passive surveillance was poor.

The AHC rejected this, saying Redfern police had been involved in consultations about the project and supported the development.

The Department of Planning and Planning Minister are expected to announce a decision about the Pemulwuy Project within weeks.

Michael Mundine, CEO of Aboriginal Housing Company at The Block photo: Phil Rogers

Source: http://sydney-central.whereilive.com.au/news/story/pemulway-housing-project-in-redfern-nears-approval/