It was standing room only last night at H.A. Smith Reserve pavilion where Council and local residents discussed the Victorian Government’s proposal to redevelop public housing in Bills Street Hawthorn.

The Victorian Government is proposing to sell public land in Bills Street to private developers to build up to 350 private apartments to fund the construction of only 58 public housing units - a ten per cent uplift in the number of public housing dwellings on the site.

Council and the community agreed that the Victorian Government’s proposal to increase public housing stock by only ten per cent is not good enough. We need more public housing to address the significant shortfall in accommodation for vulnerable members of our community.

The community was furious that the Victorian Government is selling public land that was gifted to the former Commission for Housing and intended for public housing, to private developers.

“Where will the profits go, what will happen to our neighbours, will they be able to come back to their community?” they asked.

The Victorian Government is proposing towers of up to 12 storeys to accommodate the new dwellings, which is at odds with the character of the area and also at odds with their own recently introduced planning control that imposes a three storey mandatory height limit.

Local residents raised concerns about the negative impact of the substantial increase in density and building height on their homes, the local traffic and parking conditions. Local mums were also concerned about the capacity for their local schools to accommodate more students.

The community are also highly concerned their rights to access the independent appeals process will be taken away because the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing the Minister for Planning become the planning authority for the site, instead of Council.

Both Council and the community are not opposed to redevelopment of our dilapidated public housing stock, but we are opposed to the Victorian Government’s flawed public housing renewal program that gives away our public land and worst of all, does little to address the public housing crisis.

Local residents are banding together to form a resident’s action group. If you are interested in joining their cause please email local resident, Phillip Gray.