The Cowper Street site. Source; Hands Off Glebe

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By Joe Bourke

 

Glebe residents have criticised the NSW government’s plan to develop a site on Cowper Street, Glebe, into a mix of private apartments and social and affordable housing.
The development will be made up of approximately 250 private apartments, 150 social housing units and 100 affordable housing apartments.
President of the Hands Off Glebe community group, Denis Doherty, told City Hub the proposed development did not address the “crushing need for housing” in the area.
“Almost within eyesight of the site are the arches of Wentworth Park, where almost all of them have four to five people sleeping rough every night,” he said.
“The amount of begging and people sleeping rough in the city is increasing, and there is nothing being done about it.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) said the proposal was “a good outcome”.
“Cowper Street delivers much needed social and affordable housing. It’s a mixed development that sees old public housing assets recycled as viable mixed communities, and is a very important project pursued by the NSW government and the City of Sydney,” the spokesperson said.
The site was formerly a low-rise public housing estate and was demolished by the former state government in 2011. The government has said the project will be completed in 2018 and that the development delivers 15 percent more public housing than what was originally there.
Glebe community member Judie Beckenrig said this was not the case, as the amount of bedrooms being offered is not the same, so not as many people could be housed.
Ms Beckenrig also said there was a lack of consultation about the project and residents felt as though they weren’t being heard.
“If you went and said ‘well look, I really don’t think that is a very good design’, they would ostracise your comments with ‘oh look, we can’t really talk about this in particular because this is really only a concept of what it might be like’,” she said.
“Every time we have tried to bring it up, it has been dismissed.”
The FACS spokesperson told City Hub there had been extensive consultation with the community over the years while the site remained empty.
“The development has undergone an extensive DA process over many years in which it was open to public exhibition and feedback, and FACS has also met with the Glebe Area Tenants Group and the Coalition of Glebe group advising them of the proposed works,” the spokesperson said.
The proposal comes as more Millers Point homes are put on the market and plans for the Bays Precinct continue to move forward.