By Lucy Rennick
On Thursday July 3, community group RedWatch met to discuss the effects of UrbanGrowth NSW’s proposals for the redevelopment of the Central to Eveleigh Corridor.
The ‘corridor’ consists of approximately three kilometers between the Goulburn Street car park in the Sydney CBD and Macdonaldtown station, including Central and Redfern stations, Australian Technology Park and the Eveleigh rail yards. The proposals include plans to revitalise the area by providing thousands of additional homes and jobs, as well as opening up new public spaces and enhancing the efficacy of existing transport systems.
The plans for redevelopment are not without criticism and have fallen under particular scrutiny from RedWatch.
“There are three sites that UrbanGrowth are proposing to commence work on in the 0-5 year time frame,” said Geoff Turnbull, RedWatch chairman. “They are all sites that RedWatch has an interest in.”
“The nine themes we suggested to development consultancy group KJA as common themes emerging from the consultation with UrbanGrowth have been reduced to six. Embedded community participation has been left out entirely,” said Mr Turnbull.
The UrbanGrowth proposals have again brought access to affordable housing to the forefront of community issues. This issue remains particularly salient in light of the recent tent embassy protests on The Block in Redfern, which contest the definitive lack of affordable housing in plans to redevelop that area.
“UrbanGrowth are closing their eyes and look the other way, as they’ve done all along in response to issues of housing affordability,” said David Pocklington, RedWatch member.
RedWatch member Ross Smith considers the affordable housing issue as having wider social ramifications.
“There is no price control. There is no such animal,” said Mr Smith.
“Prices are set by what the market will pay. UrbanGrowth cannot provide for me a legal definition of affordable housing. The plans don’t define what high density is and they don’t talk about medium density, and they don’t say what the existing is classed as.”
“Cramming people into smaller spaces means increasing family pressures, and then all sorts of issues come up. As soon as they say they’ll increase affordability, they’re talking about decreasing the amounts of fresh air sunshine,” said Mr Smith.
“It will also put large pressure on Redfern station,” said Mr Smith. “They’re putting band-aids on top of band-aids.”
Members of RedWatch consider the inextricable link between affordable housing and employment to be problematic in light of future developments.
“There’s no employment because people who work in the service industries can’t afford to live in the area,” said Mr Smith.
“Any development generally brings jobs to people in the local area, but not to people out in the sticks who can’t afford to travel into the city,” said Michael Shrogner, RedWatch member.
RedWatch will continue to lobby the decisions made by UrbanGrowth NSW in an attempt to maintain community satisfaction with the proposals. Residents, community members and all other interested parties are encouraged to communicate with UrbanGrowth NSW and the state government to ensure all voices are heard.