Page 1355 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 May 2015

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Our renewal program seeks to overhaul our ageing public housing stock and replace it with new, fit-for-purpose housing which continues to spread public housing around the ACT through the well-understood salt and pepper approach. By doing so we will be reducing concentrations of disadvantage in the larger multi-unit complexes and contributing to urban renewal in our city. Salt and peppering is not new. It has served Canberra well and will continue to do so. It has been a fundamental component of the public housing asset management strategy.

Our biggest stocks of public housing are in the inner north and inner south, which reflects the development that took place 50 to 60 years ago. Over the decades since, we have worked to include public housing in Belconnen, Tuggeranong and Gungahlin to ensure public housing is integrated into our newer suburbs. We do not have anything like the concentrations of public housing seen in cities like Melbourne and Sydney, where thousands of tenants are living in large housing sites. But, even from our better starting point, we are working through the public housing renewal program to achieve a more even distribution through our suburbs.

Housing ACT will therefore retain a significant proportion of inner city properties, ensuring public housing tenants have access to the amenity of the inner city. However, the overall proportion of public housing in the region will be much more aligned to the geographic distribution of housing across Canberra. Typically, new developments will range from 14 to 25 dwellings. This will be vital to ensuring we do not return to the days of high density multi-unit properties. The public housing program will also enable an increased public housing presence in growth areas such as Gungahlin, west Belconnen and Molonglo, ensuring the continuation of a salt and pepper approach throughout the city as our city grows further.

As we work to incorporate public housing into new suburbs and redevelop housing in existing suburbs, we are seeking to work with the community to achieve the best outcomes in the design of replacement stock. The government is committed to delivering appropriate housing that fits in with individual locations. Indeed, one of the core principles of the integration of public housing throughout Canberra’s suburbs is that public housing should be indistinguishable from the surrounding housing stock.

I am confident that through the renewal process a robust consultation with local communities will ensure the best design for each area. I note, for example, that consultation with communities about the site selection for replacement public housing occurs both before and after a development application is submitted and that some important community stakeholders have welcomed the early engagement with local communities.

The integration of public housing throughout Canberra’s suburbs is not just about numbers of stock and where it is located. It is about the benefits of having mixed communities—people living side by side, going to the same doctors and the shops, sending their children to the same schools. Children from some of the wealthiest and poorest families in Canberra attend school together in suburbs like Red Hill. Let us remember that housing tenure does not matter to children playing together in the playground.

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