Breaking the heart of Redfern

Shelter NSW, along with other community and social sector advocates and the City of Sydney, has long played a game of cat and mouse with the NSW Government on its plans for the redevelopment of 600-660 Elizabeth Street Redfern. As always, our aim is to preserve and protect public land and public housing; introduce additional regulated affordable rental housing for local workers and secure housing for First Nations people delivered by the Aboriginal Community Housing sector.

Aerial view showing proposed redevelopment site via DPIE

In late January, the NSW Government announced its final plans, as reported by Sydney Morning Herald journalist, Megan Gorrey in this article. While not obvious in the headline but noted in the article, the site was once home to multiple public housing dwellings demolished in 2013.

Consistent with its usual approach, the NSW Government plan is underpinned by a business model that sees 100% of the public land sold in return for just 30% social dwellings (public and/or community housing) of a proposed 311 dwellings. Compared to previous development approaches however, and noting that we had called for these, we were pleased to see the following additions:

  • 100 Affordable Rental Homes (for key workers and low-to medium families) 
  • 11 Specialist Disability homes 
  • Not-for-profit Community Housing organistion, Bridge Housing, assignd as the lead developer (a first on a project of this size) 

But as our Senior Policy Officer Cathy Callaghan noted to ABC radio journalist Sarah McDonald on January 25; given its location in the heart of Redfern, opposite Redfern Park where former Prime Minister Paul Keating made his landmark speech recognising the devastating impact of colonialisation on Aboriginal people; where is the commitment to securing housing for Aboriginal people on this site?

In an era where the Managing Director of an infrastructure behemoth like Lend Lease is calling on the NSW Government to require private developers to deliver 30% social and affordable housing on large private redevelopment sites, and with a social housing waiting list of 57,000+ households, how can 100 social dwellings be seen as a big enough payoff for the privatisation of this site? If not from sites like this, where will 50,000 additional dwellings come from?

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