Wednesday, March 28, 2007

PPP for Northcote?

Today's edition of The Melbourne Times carried my letter calling on Victorian Housing Minister, Richard Wynne, to rule out a public–private partnership on a Northcote public housing site set for redevelopment in 2008. Here it is:

Judging by the community reaction to the panel report on the Carlton public housing redevelopment, current and future public tenants of Northcote's Roberts Street flats have little to hope for.

Minister Wynne has been silent on whether the site is destined for a public–private partnership (PPP). If this approach were adopted, it would open the gates to a Carlton-style scenario of inappropriate ratios of private to public housing, albeit on a smaller scale. There is also the question of the impact of the redevelopment on the neighbouring park.

After such a long history of neglect and delay regarding this site, I call on Minister Wynne to come clean on Roberts Street Northcote, to rule out a PPP, and to safeguard the adjacent park from development. The current housing site should be retained for the public benefit, and that means aged housing integrated within the community to help address the heavy public waiting lists for accommodation. We don't need another public gift to private developers.
The same issue carried the surprise announcement by Wynne that the numbers to be accommodated on the Carlton site would mark an increase of 250 on the current population, albeit housed in the same number of units as originally planned (246, see 'Surprise rise in resident numbers for Carlton estate', p. 13).

While this development was welcomed by the representative for the Carlton Local Area Network, Steve Dobson, the central criticism of the development remains valid. The public units on the site will be massively outnumbered by private units in the face of long waiting lists for public housing in inner-city areas. And this on public land that should be retained for public benefit. Wynne's announcement, while some relief to residents, is tokenism.

It will be interesting to note developments at Roberts Street, Northcote, on the future fate of which I understand residents are meeting today.

Watch this site for updates. Comments and questions are welcome here, or you can send me an email.

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