Inner West Independent

‘No progression at all’: renewal proposal threatens Glebe’s Franklyn Street

Residents protest outside the Franklyn Street public housing block set to be demolished. Photo: Allison Hore

By DANIEL LO SURDO

The NSW Government’s plans to renew social housing in Glebe has been met with strong opposition by Inner West community leaders believing the project will amplify the vulnerabilities of the residential community.

The State Government officially proposed redevelopment on Glebe’s Franklyn Street social housing estate in November of last year, with more and better social housing combined with further support for social housing residents atop the business agenda.

But Hands off Glebe spokesperson Denis Doherty understands the project will only pose adverse outcomes to a community that has called Franklyn Street home for over two decades.

“Many of these people are frail, are elderly, are blind, many of them have health problems, some have addiction problems, and suddenly all these people will be bundled up and put somewhere else on their own,” Doherty told the Independent.

“It will increase general misery in the community.”

The planned renewal will feature 425 refurbished dwellings, about 30 per cent of which will be reserved for social housing.

“130 new, modern fit for purpose social homes are planned to be built on the new estate representing an increase of more than 20 per cent on the existing 108 social housing properties,” an NSW Land and Housing Corporation spokesperson told the Independent.

“These 130 new social homes will also be better matched to the needs of residents; especially ageing ones or those with a disability who need accessible units and lift access.”

Proposal not fit for families

Member for Balmain Jamie Parker fears that the redevelopment will abandon families incompatible with the proposed new infrastructure, while failing to ease the increasingly-growing waiting list for public housing in NSW.

“[Of] the 108 properties there [is] 254 bedrooms, and the 130 houses they’re going to build are almost exclusively one bedroom,” Parker said at a Hands off Glebe event in January.

“The total amount of people we can house is going to be cut dramatically.”

There were over 51,000 applicants on the NSW Housing Register’s waitlist as of June 2020. In the Inner West’s allocation zone, general applicants are expected to wait over 10 years before being granted any form of social housing.

The Land and Housing Corporation insists all community members affected by the renewal will be aided in the event of relocation.

“The Franklyn Street project is in the early planning phase, with planning and design anticipated to take at least two years before resident relocations are required,” a Land and Housing Corporation spokesperson said.

“Residents will be supported through the relocation process and found alternative social housing.”

With the NSW Government plans to privatise 70 per cent of the property, there is growing feeling the project will not create any increases in quality of life for Glebe social housing residents.

“In the middle of a housing crisis, the middle of a recession, the State Government is turning social housing into luxury, private flats,” Doherty said. “There’s no progression at all.”

The Franklyn Street public housing estate was first developed and inhabited in the 1980s, and now currently consists of two and three-storey townhouses, all of which will be demolished under the planned renewal.

The redevelopment promises improved amenities for Glebe, with public art, street furniture, street lighting and a new cycleway headlining the new services offered as part of the project.

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