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Housing tenant doubts Northbourne Flats upgrade will happen

Alison Creet, 64, inside her public housing apartment at the Northbourne Flats where she has lived for more than 30 years.

Alison Creet, 64, inside her public housing apartment at the Northbourne Flats where she has lived for more than 30 years. Photo: Rohan Thomson

After more than 30 years in her ground-floor, public-housing unit in the Northbourne Flats, Alison Creet says she would move tomorrow if she had the chance. But she doubts the mooted redevelopment of the flats will ever take place, having been through it all before over many years.

The flats on either side of Northbourne Avenue south of Wakefield Avenue, and the Northbourne Housing Precinct further north, are under the spotlight as the government looks to redevelop the corridor with the new rail line from Gungahlin. They are among 472 occupied public-housing units in the corridor.

Mrs Creet's unit is small but exceptionally well kept by the disability pensioner and former legal secretary. She keeps the curtains closed against views of a grassed area and the street, but has a north-facing living room, a fan for cooling and what she says is excellent heating in winter. She laid her own carpet on the lino floors years ago.

The tiny kitchen is in original condition (the complex was built in the 1950s) with an ironing board on a wooden foot that folds down from a door in the wall. The only downside, she says, is the shared laundry.

Mrs Creet, 64, was born in Canberra but lived in Sydney when she married. She lost her family after a stroke during her second pregnancy, after which she was confined for a time to a wheelchair and forced to move back to her parents' home in Reid.

She was given a two-bedroom flat so her children could visit and was housed in Northbourne to be close to her work with the Welfare Rights and Legal Centre at Havelock House.

At first, she thought she would not be able to live with the traffic noise, but Mrs Creet says she no longer notices it. The only noise problems she has these days are when young tenants are given the flat upstairs.

"Sometimes you get noisy neighbours, but you get used to them," she said. "They are not bad now. I used to have real young kids upstairs. It depends whether they are young or old and what they do with their music."

She has never felt unsafe in her home, although she says she will not go out at night, even to the bins.

Mrs Creet says her Northbourne flat is home. ''It's where I fit in. It's my space. I have been alone for such a long time, it's my space."

Nevertheless, she is ready for a move and wants a home with access to the outdoors. "I would like to move out of here and get into another flat on my own. I would just like to get somewhere else that's a more up-to-date flat in a different location."

Not that she expects that to happen any time soon, having been consulted more than once over the years about planned redevelopments of the units. "We have all been waiting with bated breath for the refurbishment to happen," she said. "It's talk. I don't think it will occur."

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