Wrecking balls are set to swing across central Canberra as the ACT government moves forward with controversial plans to demolish ageing and run-down public housing buildings.
On Thursday, the government's Land Development Agency will lodge development applications in order to bulldoze large sections of the Northbourne Avenue housing precinct and the Bega and Allawah flats.
It will also seek approval for the redevelopment plan at the Currong and Allawah apartments site.
Despite the ACT Heritage Council calling for about 40 per cent of the 1960s Northbourne precinct to be preserved, only the two northern‐most bedsitter flats and one grouping of pair houses will be kept.
Designed by Sydney Ancher for the National Capital Development Commission and considered by heritage and architectural experts to be critical to Canberra's development story, the rest of the pair houses, maisonettes, garden flats and the three-storey Owen Flats will be demolished to make way for about 1100 privately owned apartments.
Last month the government won an administrative appeal to block the National Trust from fighting the demolitions. It has promised "roof for roof" development of new public housing stock across Canberra as part of an ambitious renewal program.
Debate about demolition of the post-war international modernist-style homes, as well as the run-down ABC flats designed by Richard Ure and Ian Slater in the mid-1950s, has continued for years.
In February, Mr Barr lashed the Heritage Council plans for protection of some Northbourne Avenue buildings. The government has ignored a series of reports offering strategies to retain and adapt the buildings.
"These sites are tired and, in many cases, an eyesore," Mr Barr said.
"They are also unsuitable and inappropriate as housing for our most vulnerable citizens. The decision on these [development applications] will allow for the urban renewal of our city and for major redevelopment along the entrance to Canberra."
A spokesman said the government would work with the Gallery Of Australian Design to record the area's heritage. The ground floor of the Lyneham Tower is expected to house a new heritage museum for the area.
The government's public housing renewal taskforce has begun planning for new homes for tenants and contracts will be signed with construction companies in coming weeks for construction.
Most will be in small developments of between 14 and 25 homes.
The dilapidated Currong apartments are expected to be demolished by August, after the government called for tenders for the removal of the eight-storey former student housing in April.
The Currong site will be redeveloped for homes with stepped heights from three to eight storeys. The current 212 units will be replaced with 190 dwellings. The Allawah site will increase from 114 dwellings to 288, and the Bega site will grow from 114 dwellings to 403.
Central to the plans are the government's urban renewal goals and the $800 million light rail line to Gungahlin.
Demolition of the public housing stock will allow for the land to be sold to developers, winning the government much-needed revenue and part of a $60 million asset sales bonus from the Abbott federal government.
Tuesday's budget included plans for a $375 million capital contribution to the tram line, to be paid to an international consortium which wins the contract to build and operate the 12-kilometre line.
Already the government has faced strong community opposition from residents of the Gungahlin suburb of Nicholls, who oppose a new public housing development near the Gold Creek school.
In a possible sign of opposition to the "salt and pepper" strategy for distribution of public housing, 200 residents complained their safety, amenity and transport options would suffer from the complex.
Consultation with residents of the soon to be demolished buildings began earlier this year.
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