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Joining Forces for Redfern

Plans for redeveloping The Block are engaging politicians from all sides. Report Alexandra Walker in Sydney Central Wednesday April 6 2005 Page 10

The Aboriginal Housing Company's plan to redevelop The Block received a boost this week, as councillors from the City of Sydney met with a Federal Government agency to discuss funding for the project.

Greens councillor Chris Harris, Deputy Lord Mayor John McInerney and the council's general manager Peter Seamer met with representatives from the office of Indigenous Policy Co-ordination on Tuesday.

The group met to look into the possibility of putting together a consortium to bankroll the AHC's Pemulway Project, which involves building 62 units and townhouses on the Redfern site.

Cr Harris raised the idea of a consortium with the council and said the project has the support of City of Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore.

"They own the land and they are entitled to develop it," Cr Harris said.

"They aren't going to wear having a token Aboriginal presence on that land."

While Cr Harris said that nothing was concrete "just yet", he said he was confident there would be money made available for the project.

AHC spokesman Peter Valilis said the company were "absolutely" in support of the idea of a consortium.

"We've always said that the funding for this project should come from a consortium incorporating all levels of government, as well as private funding," Mr Valilis said.

He said that while the AHC had been in talks with the Redfern Waterloo Authority (RWA) over the project, they had been unable to agree on key details.

"We share a lot of common ground with the RWA, but we can't agree on the number of houses because we feel that cutting the number would compromise the sustainability of the project," Mr Valilis said.

"The official position of the AHC is that we've been made a `take it or leave it' deal and the board has chosen to leave it."

A spokeswoman for the minister in charge of the Redfern Waterloo Authority, Frank Sartor said that the minister's door was open to the AHC.

But she said Mr Sartor did not believe that the Pemulway Project was a sustainable vision for The Block because he believes it is likely to lead to a reconcentration of high dependency housing.