ACT News

'No consultation' with residents in Northbourne Avenue public housing

Public housing residents on Northbourne Avenue say that they haven't been consulted by the government or the ACT Heritage Council about the debate over the future of the housing precinct.

As the ACT National Trust considers an appeal against any demolition of the 1950s and 1960s housing, debate about the precinct's future has divided some in the area.

Catherine Dummett with her dog Buster. Catherine has lived in the Northbourne flats for 22 years.
Catherine Dummett with her dog Buster. Catherine has lived in the Northbourne flats for 22 years.  Photo: Jamila Toderas

Catherine Dummett has lived in the precinct for 22 years. Suffering from arthritis, she is ready to see the apartments gone forever.

"I've got a disability and I'm having trouble walking up and down the stairs," she said.

The Dickson Flats.
The Dickson Flats. Photo: Rohan Thomson

"When things go wrong with this place, I keep having to ringing up the government. I can't open my windows properly or shut them properly. [The apartments] are an eyesore."

"We've got a good little group here," Ms Dummett said.

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Residents who have lived in the area for many years agree the sense of community is strong, said both Ms Dummett and fellow resident Hugh Martin.

"I nearly know everyone by name on this street," Mr Martin said.

Having lived in his apartment for three decades, Mr Martin said he would be resistant to moving to make way for development planned by the government as part of the light rail line.  

"There's nothing wrong with [the apartment]. I have a back yard, I have a front yard." 

Unconvinced on plans to move residents into new housing built on proposed sites in Chisholm, Nicholls and Monash, Mr Martin said the new areas had less to offer for residents.  

"I know people who've moved out there and it's cost them a fortune from A to B. Everyone on this side wants to stay."

Although his flat is kept clean and in good repair, the condition of others on his block should the onus of tenants, Mr Martin said.

"They're letting it run down. Some of the tenants are to blame for a lot of it, not the government."

The ACT Heritage Council wrote to residents this week, encouraging them to contact the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Both residents said they felt they'd been snubbed by authorities.

"Nobody asked me," Mr Martin said. "What say could I have?"

Trust spokesman Eric Martin said the organisation could launch appeal in the  tribunal as soon as next week, seeking for all the buildings to be protected. 

"It is really surprising that the Chief Minister can make a comment dismissing the area as ugly and having no heritage value when expert committees have suggested something else," he said.

"We're strongly of the view that it does have heritage value and I believe that there can be some successful outcomes with the adaptive re-use of heritage value." 

Mr Martin said the trust  had questioned if the ACT government officials had allowed the precinct to deteriorate to its current poor condition to influence public opinion. 

"If you had actually maintained them appropriately, then I believe the public attitude toward the area would be totally different. We can't categorically say that but it certainly has that perception."