Northbourne Flats redevelopment a selling point

Northbourne Flats redevelopment a selling point

The redevelopment of the Northbourne Flats will lead to a reduction of about 150 public housing properties, despite the construction of an additional 660 units, with the ACT Government planning to sell the bulk of the properties.

ACT Greens MLA Amanda Bresnan yesterday questioned whether the revenue generated by the large-scale development and proposed sales will be returned to fund additional stock.

''The Government shouldn't be using this [development] as a way to reduce public housing ... It will be a good revenue injection and we need stronger assurances that the money goes back into public housing,'' she said.

The comments came after Minister for Community Services, Joy Burch, announced the design competition winner for the redevelopment of the Northbourne Flats.

GALLERY: The contenders for the new design


Melbourne-based firm John Wardle Architects was judged the best of about 40 entries. ''[The development] will have open space, but quite private space, but there's also built-in community areas, child-care, shops, other facilities that create a local community that create that amenity for people to socialise and amble, and be part of a broader community,'' Ms Burch said.

''The entry more than trebles the number of units currently on site while incorporating features that help it retain an open feel and also be sympathetic to its surrounding environment,'' the Minister said.

Under the proposed design the number of flats will rise from the current 248 to 900. However, only 10 per cent of these will be reserved for public housing, according to a Housing and Community Services ACT spokesman, creating the shortfall.

''Housing and Community Services will start meeting with the tenants of the Northbourne Flats to talk to them about what this outcome means to them,'' Minister Burch said. ''Michele'', a part-time public servant and resident of the flats who did not wish to be named for fear it could jeopardise her relationship with Housing and Community Services ACT, said the only consultation she had received to date was a letter.

''We haven't heard anything apart from a note from Housing that said they were tearing the place down next year,'' she said. ''Michele'' said the Northbourne Flats were currently run down and in need of redevelopment, but the uncertainty was causing herself and neighbours distress at the prospect of having to move elsewhere.

''Just because we live in public housing doesn't mean we're all dole bludgers or druggies. Families have kids in local schools, people have friends and support networks in the local area,'' she said.

Ms Burch could not be drawn yesterday on the cost of the project or on who the Government would engage to complete the construction and sell off the additional units.

The Ministry and Housing and Community Services ACT made a commitment that all current tenants would be found housing elsewhere and the reduction in stock at Northbourne Flats would not leave anyone homeless.

Ms Bresnan said the ACT Greens would pursue their questions through the ACT Legislative Assembly. ''This is an issue we've expressed concern about previously, particularly with the ABC flats. We'll be asking some questions next week in the Assembly about it,'' she said.

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