THE Victorian Government has announced that one of the largest redevelopments of a public housing community in Australia has been completed at Kensington, in Melbourne's inner-west.
Housing Minister Wendy Lovell last week joined Member for Northern Metropolitan Region Craig Ondarchie and representatives of the Becton Property Group and Urban Communities to announce the completion of the redevelopment.
"This is a special day for public housing tenants on the estate and for the wider Kensington community," Ms Lovell said on Wednesday.
Ms Lovell said completion of the project follows 14 years of development and implementation – over three consecutive governments – that has transformed an ageing, high-density 1960s public housing estate into a mixed community of public, social and private housing.
"The success of this development and the community feeling on the estate are a tribute to the hard work of Becton and Urban Communities for the building and management of these wonderful new homes."
In March 1998, the then Housing Minister Ann Henderson announced a plan to demolish the high-rise tower at 72 Derby Street and all the walk-up blocks on the estate. The two remaining high-rise towers were retained for refurbishment.
Work on the redevelopment took place over 10 stages between 2002 and 2011 at a cost of $150 million. The Victorian Government contributed $47 million, with the remainder coming from the private sector.
"The Victorian Coalition Government is keen to look at opportunities to replicate the learnings of the Kensington model," Ms Lovell said.
"This development reflects a more cohesive approach to new public housing developments. My predecessor Ann Henderson was ahead of her time in developing a new vision for public housing and I applaud her for her foresight and vision."
The new housing mix consists of 210 new public housing units, 497 new privately owned units, 15 new social housing units and 217 renovated public housing units in the high-rise towers.
Upgrade work to the two high-rise towers is continuing and will include new lifts, refurbished foyers, renovated apartments, a larger common room, improved security systems, and green technology such as solar heating and rainwater collection.
Becton CEO Matthew Chun said the development is significant for the area, providing social and community benefits and an attractive proposition to private home owners.
Mr Ondarchie said the redeveloped Kensington estate had been popular with private buyers, adding that the new estate helped to break down the barriers between public and private housing.
"Once, people would avoid walking through the estate. Now mums walk their children through the new community to get to the local park, and this has been achieved with no net loss of public housing in the area," Mr Ondarchie said.