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Chapman public housing start an abuse of power, says residents group

By Ian Bushnell 14 November 2018 8

The site on Darwinia Terrace, Chapman was fenced off, with some trees already felled on Tuesday afternoon. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The fences have gone up and clearing begun at the contested site in Chapman for a controversial public housing project, sparking outrage from the residents group that has fought the proposal all the way to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
The Darwinia Park Action Group said the commencement of work at the site – bounded by Darwinia Terrace, Kathner Street and Percy Crescent – on Tuesday (13 November) before the Tribunal findings were published was typical of a Government without sense of process or probity.
“What is going on in Chapman is possibly one of the most disgusting abuses of power by the ACT Government you will ever see.
We have evidence that they lied to us in consultation and now they are planning to build before the findings from ACAT are even revealed,” a DPAG representative said.
Although the ACAT approved the Housing Renewal Task Force’s development applications for multi-unit housing on 15 August, the DPAG had been waiting on its Reasons for Decision to determine whether the applicants who had opposed the project had grounds for appealing in the Supreme Court.
It says the applicants have serious concerns about the decision, but they are unable to consider ACAT’s reasons and any basis for appeal until they are published.
Residents near the site were advised last week that construction would begin this month and the fences went up on Tuesday.
The DPAG has appealed to MLAs in a letter calling on the Housing Minister Yvette Berry to reconsider ‘this foolish plan’.
There are two blocks, one for public housing and the other for Hartley Lifecare to provide accommodation for people with a disability, a sore point with the group which accuses the Government of not being honest during consultations about its intention for a direct sale at nil cost to Hartley.
Twenty single-storey townhouses are slated for public housing while Hartley will build a four-bedroom house for three people with disabilities and their support staff in the north-western corner of Darwinia Park.
The DPAG has argued that the proposed development is not safe because the site is bushfire prone, being part of the area devastated in 2003, and that the location is unsuitable for public housing due to its isolation and distance from services.
The land had been in Designated Bushfire Prone Area and subject to the Strategic Bushfire Management Plan that prohibits concentrations of vulnerable persons, but the BPA was redrawn during consultation.
“The Task Force intends to transfer the multi-unit housing to Housing ACT for use for public housing tenants who the Government has explained are likely to have complex needs, maybe ageing-in-place and may be disabled,” the letter said.
The DPAG says the Government was able to have a range of evidence to ACAT, relating mostly to the bushfire danger, considered either irrelevant or inadmissible on technical grounds.
“The Task Force intends to transfer the multi-unit housing to Housing ACT for use for public housing tenants who the Government has explained are likely to have complex needs, maybe ageing-in-place and may be disabled,” the letter said.
“By events today, the Task Force appears determined to commence construction, irrespective of the pending Reasons for Decision from ACAT. Presumably, this is to complete by June 2019, to get the Commonwealth cash under the Asset-Recycling Initiative,” the letter said.
“However, you will be aware of the familiar bushfire threat, only last week 5km from the site at Bullen Range, that but for a change of wind direction could have repeated the regular pattern of burning the western edge of Weston Creek.
“This reminds us that all the political cleverness, willful memory loss, asset-recycling schemes, sham consultations, manipulation of process and legal technicalities, will not absolve those responsible. If the worst happens and vulnerable persons placed there by this reckless plan, are harmed, then the record is clear and there will be accountability for those who voted for it and directed it.”
The DPAG representative said the Government’s actions were a disgrace and set a precedent for development process across Canberra.
She said offers were already coming in to finance a Supreme Court challenge.
Comment has been sought from the Government.

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8 Responses to
Chapman public housing start an abuse of power, says residents group
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chewy14 5:24 pm 26 Nov 18

NIMBY’s, NIMBY’s everywhere.

madelini 1:23 pm 26 Nov 18

Maybe it’s just perception, but the DPAG’s opposition reeks of NIMBYISM, with the bushfire excuse just being a cover – particularly when seeing how quickly the agencies in Canberra reacted with the Pierces Creek fire a few weeks ago. The chances of an out-of-control bushfire are ones that we risk by living here, and the location of these particular developments has absolutely nothing to do with that risk.

Public housing is scattered through the ACT, including new developments in a number of established suburbs. It is part and parcel of living in Canberra, and those who disagree with living in proximity to public housing developments seem to be the first ones to accuse the government of corruption. I don’t recall of any complaints from DPAG when new PH developments were appearing in places like Casey or Chisholm.

gooterz 11:02 pm 14 Nov 18

What anti corruption commission

astro2 9:56 pm 14 Nov 18

Two blocks: one for public housing and the other for Hartley Lifecare to provide housing for people with a disability. ACAT has ruled in favour, decision reasons to be published shortly. I doubt that most of Canberra residents will be up in arms about this one, beyond a small group of nearby residents. We all share public housing across Canberra, wealthy and not so wealth areas, some, like old Narrabundah, have up to 30% of public housing. i don’t think this development is classed as controversial and probably a good idea if the nearby residents hang on to their wallets before considering a Supreme Court challenge.

    Maya123 10:31 am 27 Nov 18

    astro2 wrote: “some, like old Narrabundah, have up to 30% of public housing.”

    And more recently built there.

Mike of Canberra 6:54 pm 14 Nov 18

In 2016, the people of Chapman and Weston Creek more broadly helped return in their electorate two Labor MLAs and a third government MLA in the form of Caroline Le Couteur, an enthusiastic advocate of just this sort of public housing development. And guess what? In 2020, they will probably do exactly the same, thus ensuring a continuance of the government that has shown itself so willing to completely disregard any protests or other resistance to this development. And by the way, residents of Chapman and Weston Creek should ask the government how it proposes to manage this development to ensure it doesn’t become a a “concentration of disadvantage”. They probably won’t like the answer. If residents of this area are sick of being kicked around and want change, they need to take responsibility and vote for change in 2020.

    chewy14 9:08 pm 14 Nov 18

    Cmon, that’s not fair.

    These residents are 100% supportive of significant amounts of public housing…………….just nowhere near where they personally live.

    JC 8:30 pm 15 Nov 18

    Too right b

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