Greens oppose demolition of Cowper Street housing estate, Glebe

Jamie Parker is working with Glebe residents to oppose the demolition of the Cowper Street housing estate in Glebe. The Greens argue that the proposed $170 million redevelopment will result in a net gain of only 19 public housing units.

Anger at Glebe housing proposal Kelsey Munro - SMH, 14 May, 2011
PUBLIC housing residents have been moved out and demolition works started this week on a Glebe housing estate, but Housing NSW has not lodged a development application for the buildings that will replace it.

Critics of the planned Glebe Project say it shows ''a deplorable lack of planning'' given so many are on housing waiting lists; and argue that the proposed $170 million redevelopment will result in a net gain of only 19 public housing units.

The state government sold public houses in Millers Point to help fund the planned project and part of the site will be privatised in the development.

Housing NSW has defended its actions, saying ''the Glebe Project is an exciting, rigorously researched, cutting-edge model of mixed tenure housing development'' which will supply more public and private dwellings in inner Sydney. 

The existing estate bound by Cowper, Queen, Wentworth and Bay streets has 134 public housing dwellings. The redevelopment proposal is for 153 public housing units, 250 private units and 90 affordable housing units (rent-capped housing which will be run by community providers). 

But the new public housing units are almost all one-bedrooms, while the existing stock is mostly two to three bedrooms, resulting in a net loss of public housing space. 

Pastor Julie Brackenreg, from the Hope Street Glebe Community Church, said it was absurd to put vulnerable people through the stress of being relocated before there was a plan in place. 

''They could be housing people I would estimate for at least another two years, the way things move or don't move, if they hadn't started knocking it down,'' she said. 

The Greens MP Jamie Parker said: ''The site is likely to sit empty for years … With over 40,000 people on the public housing waiting list it shows a deplorable lack of planning to evict tenants and demolish public housing without having a pre-approved development application for the replacement housing.'' 

Dennis Dougherty, from community group Hands off Glebe, said the loss of public housing space amounted to ''social cleansing'' of the suburb. 

But Housing NSW said the development has been specifically designed to meet future needs which project growth in aged, single people needing affordable housing in the inner city. 

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