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Thursday, 30 April 2015



The book 'Mixed Communities: Gentrification by Stealth?' includes a discussion of the redevelopment of the Kensington public housing estate in Victoria as part of its global analysis on the subject.

At the time of the redevelopments, there was a strong working class community in Kensington (early 2000's). Public housing communities then made up 30% of Kensington's population and contributed greatly to the cultural diversity of the area, including residents from Italy, Malta, South America, China, Vietnam, Horn of Africa, former Yugoslavia, Turkey and Greece. A large proportion of children in Kensington were from the public housing estate. By all accounts the community in Kensington was thriving with plenty of positive interaction between public tenants and their neighbours. ( Hulse et al 2004 )

The government decided to redevelop the estate which commenced in 2002 and was completed in 2012. It became known as the 'Kensington model' and was a Private/Public Partnership ( PPP ). It was touted as 'a test bed for future inner city housing management' (DHS, 2002).

The project involved a mass relocation of public tenants while the public housing properties were being demolished and new properties built - but what is not widely known is that around one thousand of the relocated public tenants from the Kensington estate never returned. They were permanently displaced. This information is 'not available through relevant government departments'. Eventually however the Office of Housing disclosed that only 20% of relocated tenants 'chose to return after settling in their new area'. As the book states - how much choice the tenants really had is contestable. 
'Mixed Communities : Gentrification by Stealth?' p138

Other public housing estates to follow ... ? 
The redevelopment of the Carlton estate in 2008 had the following projected outcome. 'In evidence to a planning panel hearing for the redevelopment of the Carlton estate, DHS estimated that only 20 percent of the original residents would return on completion (Government of Victoria, 2007)'

The master plans for Fitzroy, Richmond and Prahran are also being informed by the 'Kensington model'. ( Shaw )

'Consultation' with public tenants.
Carlton Residents' Association, one of the stakeholders for the Carlton redevelopment, described the Community Liaison Committee as 'farcical' and a 'sham'.

Did any consultations with public tenants, prior to their mass relocation, include informing them of the government's estimated outcome for their eventual return? Were any planned changes in the number of units, and the number of bedrooms available in the new units, explained to the tenants and their families before their relocation? How many of the original tenants in Carlton returned, following the redevelopment of their estate?

Have entire public housing communities, acting in good faith with their governments, relocated with the reasonable expectation that they would be returning to their homes and neighbourhoods?

In reality, has the outcome of these redevelopments been the destruction of well-established communities and for many, if not most, of the original public tenants, their permanent displacement? ....

Fiona Ross
Friends of Public Housing Victoria

Bridge, G., Butler, T., & Lees, L. (Eds.). (2012). Mixed Communities : gentrification by stealth? Policy Press.

If you type in 'Trojan Horse' in the 'search inside' window, you can start reading from p135 

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