NSW gov’t told not to demolish Explorer Street public housing

July 10, 2023
Campaigning to save Explorer Street in South Eveleigh. Photo: Friends of Erskineville/Facebook

The New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) and the Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) briefed community groups on July 6 on its plans to demolish and redevelop the Explorer Street public housing estate in South Eveleigh.

The meeting was organised by community group REDWatch.

Representatives of the City of Sydney and Action for Public Housing and Friends of Erskineville attended in person and online.

The Explorer Street estate, built in 1991, has 46 homes with mostly 3 and 4 bedrooms. The NSW Coalition’s 2020 plan to privatise 70% of the site was met with protest.

Attendees were hopeful that Labor would abandon the Coalition’s plans but were disappointed to hear it is proceeding with them, with the full detail likely to be made public in September.

The LAHC representative said the larger homes in the estate were under occupied, implying that it would be better to redevelop the site into 1 and 2 bedroom apartments.

Serena, a resident of the estate, pushed back saying that after having raised a family in Explorer Street, she had been requesting a transfer to a smaller home since 2006, but had been ignored.

Geoff Turnbull from REDWatch pointed out the long wait list for larger families, including Aboriginal families, requiring such homes. He said if there had been any misallocation in household sizes in public housing, it was due to poor planning by the government.

It was clear from the government representatives’ comments that “rezoning” was being used to justify demolition and rebuild.

The comments from attendees made clear that any demolition was unwanted and wasteful.

Labor’s decision to continue the demolition proposal is at odds with its election commitment to end the sale of public housing and its 2022 Conference Resolution to legislate a moratorium on the privatisation or outsourcing of any public housing assets or services.

When an audience member asked DPE and LAHC if they had received instructions not to proceed with privatization proposals, such as at Explorer Street, the answer was negative.

This puts Explorer Street in the same basket as other public housing demolitions being planned at Wentworth Park Road, Glebe and South Waterloo. A big community campaign is needed to save them and keep Labor to its pre-election promises.

[Andrew Chuter is the President of Friends of Erskineville and active in Action for Public Housing (APH). A forum titled “No More Demolitions! Alternatives to Public Housing Redevelopment” is being organised by APH on July 18 at the Redfern Community Centre.]

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