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Walker Street housing project underway

The State Government’s housing strategy for the Redfern-Waterloo has seen its frst bit of action, with the construction of a new $28 million public housing project in Walker Street, Redfern, beginning last month reports Ben Falkenmire in the South Sydney Herald of February 2008.

While the new public housing stock is not technically part of Stage 2 of Redfern-Waterloo Authority’s Built Environment Plan, it is considered to be a bellwether for future developments.

“How the Department [of Housing] handles this development will have implications for Stage 2,” REDWatch’s Geoff Turnbull said.

The 88 public housing units on the former swamp site will be demolished in the next four months, with 106 new dwellings taking their place.

A spokesperson for the NSW Housing said “These units, built in the 1950s, are no longer suitable for our tenants and are also very expensive to maintain.”

Minister Kristina Keneally, the local member for Heffron, said the new housing will appeal to the frail-aged, people with disabilities and smaller families. “There will be 66 homes for elderly tenants and 40 terrace houses with backyards for families,” she said.

According to local housing activist Ross Smith, the government has placed existing tenants in suitable housing. “The DoH has been very good in their attitude towards the [existing] tenants. We hope that would carry on with any future redevelopment in the Redfern-Waterloo area,” he said.

Mr Smith said the RWA will unveil plans for the Redfern-Waterloo public housing estate in March, but he has concerns about the RWA’ s approach. “There has been no genuine consultation with tenants or tenant body. The RWA has gone on record to say that they are not following the Bonnyrigg model. We are saying this model should be followed.”

Bonnyrigg was the model the DoH employed following the inflammatory outcomes at the Minto, Claymore and Airds estates.

Mr Turnbull said until plans are exhibited, which could see a two thirds-private, one-third-public mix, it’s difficult to evaluate. “The question is how they do it. Whether they opt for a master plan or whether the Government takes planning control to be able to put in the densities they want to put in,” the REDWatch member said.

Source: South Sydney Herald February 2008 -