Community outrage over plans for Bills Street public housing

“Our community is outraged by the Victorian Government’s proposal to sell public land in Bills Street, Hawthorn to private developers with up to 350 private apartments to fund construction of only 58 public housing units.

“We have very little land in Boroondara for public housing so it is extremely disappointing that the Victorian Government is proposing to increase public housing in Bills Street, Hawthorn by only ten per cent and sell the remainder of the site for private housing. Victoria has a significant shortfall in accommodation for vulnerable members of our community.

“There were more than 150 people at our ward meeting and they fully supported public housing at Bills Street but over-whelming rejected the Government’s plan to sell public land for private gain. The sale is doubly galling as the land was part sold and part given by the former City of Hawthorn specifically to house the elderly and single women.

“The community is also furious as the Victorian Government is proposing towers up to 12 storeys where the Minister’s own recently introduced planning control imposes a three storey mandatory limit. The substantial increase in density and building height will negatively impact residential neighbours, local traffic and parking availability.

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

“Last night Council shared with the community what we know about the project, our assessment of the Department’s project sketch plan, our discussions with the Department, our concerns about the lack of transparency and the planning approval process, together with the flawed public housing model that the Victorian Government is pursuing.

“Council has written to the Minister for Housing and the Minister for Planning to present its adopted Urban Design Framework in response to the proposal by the Department. We will continue to seek a better outcome for our community including those in need of social housing.”