ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr last week outlined the ACT Government's vision to deliver urban renewal in Canberra, with a major overhaul of public housing to form one of the key components of the government's urban renewal agenda.
"Urban renewal is vital to growing Canberra's economy and helps to strengthen our community. Our public housing tenants deserve to share in this renewal," Mr Barr said, adding that there are a number of multi-unit blocks that are 'old and tired'.
"They have reached the end of their useful life. They were built quickly, to the standards of a different time, and bringing them up to contemporary building or energy efficiency standards is simply not a viable option," the Chief Minister said.
"That's why the ACT Government has committed to a public housing renewal as part of our urban renewal agenda. Cabinet recently approved the necessary steps to replace Owen Flats in Lyneham, with brand new units at Chisholm, Monash and Nicholls. The surplus Owen Flats site will then be prepared for sale and development – delivering further renewal.
"Housing ACT has already commenced engagement with tenants at Owen Flats, in conjunction with community partners. This work will continue throughout the renewal program.
"The tenants of Owen Flats will be relocated prior to sale, and all tenants will be offered appropriate accommodation in identified sites within the inner north, city and other locations taking into consideration their individual preferences and needs.
"This program is being led by the government's Public Housing Renewal Taskforce, which was established in September 2014 and will replace 1288 outdated public housing units.
Another key part of the ACT Government's plan to revitalise the city is through the renewal of office accommodation and the improvement of government service provision in the inner city.
The government's urban renewal agenda was welcomed by the Property Council of Australia, with ACT Executive Director Catherine Carter describing it as essential to enhance the vibrancy and vitality of Civic and other parts of the city.
"The Property Council agrees that bringing much of this ageing public housing stock up to contemporary standards is too costly, and that the only viable option is renewal," Ms Carter said.
"We are keen to see further details of the ACT Government's plan, including the proportion of government housing being retained versus private dwellings, as well as timeframes for this part of the urban renewal program.
"In addition to public housing, housing affordability remains a long-term issue in Canberra, which needs to remain at the top of the agenda. Our urban renewal efforts must include a commitment to providing affordable housing, so that we cater to the needs of all Canberrans.
"The private sector is well placed to deliver affordable housing, and opening the market to competition will achieve the best outcomes for the people of Canberra," Ms Carter concluded.