This is LaTrobe Close in North Melbourne. It is one of the few green, treed spaces in the area. The trees are alive to the sounds of birds, and the area is used for kicking the footy or teaching children to ride bikes.
In the background there is social housing - well-built, in excellent condition and with 2 and 3 bedrooms, suitable for families. The buildings are on 3 levels, and include undercover parking.
The State and Federal governments plan to bulldoze the existing social housing and build high density social housing of one or 2 bedrooms with a height between 4 and 7 storeys.
There will be no open space for use - just walkways between buildings. The trees and open space will go.
The first phase will have 120 units for social housing, and the second phase a further 100 units, although whether these will be for social housing is not clear.
Because this project has been funded as part of the Commonwealth government's stimulus package, all planning, heritage, social and community concerns have been by-passed, and the local community have been shut out of the process.
The community supports social housing, but there are many problems with this development, including
- the wasteful demolition of existing social housing,
- over development of the site,
- removal of an important green space,
- failure to provide the long promised kindergarten on the site,
- failure to provide the welfare infrastructure needed for intensive social housing, and
- failure to consult the community who have much more creative ideas about achieving the desired outcome.
Is this the best we can do as a community? Throw a whole lot of money at a developer. Tell them to build lots of small units. Concrete over green spaces. Forget about the infrastructure needed by those who will live in the units and nearby. Ensure a handsome profit for the developer. Refuse to listen to the concerns of the local residents.
Planning must involve the community.
Site of the proposed LaTrobe Close development