Save Our Home from the Glebe Grapevine Dec 2020

In Cowper Street and Wentworth Park Road the plan is to excise two sites from the St Phillips Heritage Conservation Area in order to change the existing height limit of 9 metres to 36 metres. This will allow the demolition of a 2 storey building and 4 1980s terrace houses and their replacement by two 8 storey buildings and five 3 storey terraces containing 35 new public and affordable and 39 private dwellings. The housing targeted for demolition has heritage significance and one is a building of “high architectural merit”.

In Glebe – as in other Sydney suburbs — the poor, working class, elderly and sick are increasingly being pushed out. The stock of public housing is being eaten away through market sales (over the past decade Labor and Liberal governments have privatised 7,000 public housing properties in NSW) and run many more down through skimping on repairs and maintenance (often called ”demolition by neglect”).

And the NSW Government has been bulldozing public housing on inner city estates and rebuilding it alongside large numbers of private apartments to create, it claims, a better “social mix”.

The “social mix” lie

Government policy of replacing 100 per cent public housing complexes with 70 per cent private and 30 per cent public homes is justified as improving social mix. However, this is spin to conceal the politically sensitive practice of displacing tenants and selling the land they lived on to developers – that is, privatising public assets for profit.

Limiting social housing to 30 per cent in redevelopment projects is promoted because of the belief that any more would scare off private buyers and reduce developer returns.

Demolitions and evictions claimed to be for social mix disrupt support networks and social structures. Forced relocation from a neighbourhood brings with it serious impacts on physical and mental health.

And in the real world social mix is a myth. The new buildings are always separated according to whether the tenants are public or private, usually with separate entrance halls, parking lots, separate gardens and facing different streets or parks. Public and private residents rarely mix.

In the public housing complex between Franklyn, Glebe and Bay Streets about 110 residents are facing having their homes bulldozed and being evicted in 2 years time. The proposed redevelopment will have around 295 private units but only up to 130 public housing dwellings. The plans include 2-storey townhouses but also towers up to 14 storeys high, quite out of place in Glebe’s traditional low rise character.

High rise threat

The various government housing projects are opening the way to more high rise developments, threatening to turn the low rise character of Glebe into a multi-storeyed wasteland.

This is not new. Government proposals for the Bays Precinct include buildings of up to 45 storeys, whereas a 2017 Glebe community survey showed a strong commitment to low rise development there with a maximum built height of 5 storeys.

Elizabeth Farrelly in the Sydney Morning Herald (26-9-20) warned that “this cancer will spread. With towers on the old fishmarket site and the nearby 10-storey Mezzo and West End gentrifications, selling for millions, this 50-year slide from a culture that gives poor people space and sunshine to one that crams them into the shadows will be unstoppable.”

During Australia’s post-war public housing construction boom, governments thought their investment was necessary for economic productivity, improve public health, and support families. In many countries today funds are invested in public housing in support of  sustainability, economic stability, and social cohesion. It is time the NSW Government followed the same path.

Everyone has a right to safe, adequate and affordable appropriate housing. This is essential for our health, well-being and social and economic security. Safe, affordable housing is the foundation stone that gives people a chance in life.

We desperately need a major public housing building program to meet the needs of the 60,000 on the waiting list and the many homeless in our city.

Budget heartless and shortsighted, says community housing group

Hands off Glebe Inc, a community public housing advocacy group, has condemned the Federal Budget as “heartless and shortsighted” for failing to fund an increase in social housing in the face of huge and growing unemployment and cuts to income support payments.

Treasurer Frydenberg committed to an extension of the First Home Loan Deposit scheme and 1 billion in concessional loans to community housing providers to build affordable housing. The Budget also includes a cut of $41.3 million from homelessness funding in July 2021.

However the government failed to make any direct investment in desperately needed social housing infrastructure and instead continued to shift responsibility to charitable organisations, a form of privatization.

“Subsidies to first home buyers mean the government spends far more on private housing than it spends on public housing.  These schemes are welfare for real estate agents and developers,” Dr Hannah Middleton from Hands off Glebe Inc said.

“This money would be far better redirected to public housing to build and maintain public housing stock. 

“There are over 50,000 households on the social housing waiting list in NSW alone,” Dr Middleton continued. “And the number will grow as the impact of the pandemic and recession grow.

“Before COVID-19 there were 116,000 homeless people in Australia, and more than 800,000 living in rent stress.

“And it has been estimated that homelessness in NSW will increase by as much as 16,000 people as a result of COVID-19.

“Construction job losses are also growing and the sector may lose up to 205,000 jobs by next March,” Dr Middleton continued.

“But spending big on social housing would provide a boost to the struggling industry, and support the growing number of Australians at risk of homelessness in the wake of the pandemic.

Building houses for low income earners is not a burden or an exercise in charity. It makes economic sense.  Investing in residents is not money wasted. In reality it contributes to progress, creating job and new infrastructure and cutting down on calls on other services. 

“Building public housing is an effective stimulus, and it’s faster to roll out than most other infrastructure projects. The National Housing Finance Investment Corporation found 9 jobs were created for every $1 million in social housing investment;

And polling showed that 60% of Australians believe investment in affordable housing should have been a Budget priority

spending big on social housing that will be key to providing a boost to the struggling industry, and supporting the growing number of Australians at risk of homelessness. “Building houses for low income earners is not a burden or an exercise in charity. It makes economic sense. It contributes to progress, creating jobs and new infrastructure and cutting down on calls on other services. 

“Instead of its heartless and shortsighted approach, the Government should have committed funds in the Budget to build 30,000 public and affordable housing units, at a cost of about $10 billion, creating about 18,000 construction related jobs a year and helping to pull Australia out of recession.”

Princes Trust Development Glebe – Media Release

Media release
21 November 2019

Prince’s Trust Plan for Glebe Rejected

With homelessness up 13% and the waiting list for public housing blown out to 60,000, Hands off Glebe Inc is appalled by an agreement between NSW Land and Housing Corporation and Prince’s Trust Australia to build 75 affordable, social and private homes over two blocks next to Wentworth Park in Glebe.

The present buildings are on public land and are neither old nor in complete disrepair.  They already house people and housed even more before the NSW Government gradually cleared them out.

NSW Property Minister Melinda Pavey said the agreement will deliver new housing for the most vulnerable. Apparently, the Prince’s Trust is going to evict vulnerable people from the buildings in order to help other vulnerable people.  The result will be less public housing units than at present.

Cutting public housing and alienating public land in the midst of a housing crisis is a serious breach of the NSW Government’s responsibilities.

The Berejiklian Government claims that the Australian arm of a charity founded by the Prince of Wales aims to create a mixed-income community. However, the area is already mixed as the proposed development is close to Westend, a new development where penthouses are selling for $2 million.

It is clear that mixed-income development is really a code word for gentrification of our suburb or social cleansing.

Hands off Glebe Inc demands that the whole site remains dedicated entirely to the public housing which is so urgently needed.



Submission re Cowper St 2016



28 Cowper Street GLEBE NSW 2037, 8 Elger Street GLEBE NSW 2037


DA Submission on behalf of the Hands off Glebe Group



It is well known to the Council that we have opposed this development from the start believing it to be an expression of the Government’s and to some degree the council’s abnegation of their duty to look after the housing of those in lower income groups.  We believe that spurred on by neo liberalism the Government is willing to sell every asset it can to the detriment of the people.  All that remains now is for us to modify the relentless motion to make as much money as possible and for the corporation involved to go on to their next heist.


While the whole project has been laughingly called the Glebe Affordable Housing Project this part of the project is the least affordable making it the section where the private owners can buy and the developer make a ‘killing’.  By the way in a nearby street in a private building people are paying $1200 a week for a modest flat who can pay these prices?


Size and Scale of the building

The building is not set back from the street but goes right up to the footpath making the building envelope far too big for the site.  We would urge that the building be set back from the street with some vegetation to break up the scale of the building.

There is no sympathy with the proposed development and the area to the west of Cowper Street. The proposed development will engulf the area, overshadow, overlook and generally oppress the existing residential habitus.





We have read the heritage report with extreme disbelief as we see the consultants saying the development fits into the area very snugly or words to that effect.  How can a building such height be a good fit for the houses opposite?  These Victorian Terraces on West side of Cowper Street will be completely overwhelmed by this building.  While we are not asking for a 2016 version of Victorian Terraces we are asking for some consideration for the area and some decrease in size and scale so as not to overwhelm the other side of the street.


The Council talks of a city of villages and in particular developers talk about the Glebe Village ‘feel’ of the area yet time and time again the council allows the ‘stack em and pack em’ approach we are all too familiar with.  Our ‘village’ is about to become a canyon country with deep wind tunnels passing through our area with the laughable self-granted title by developers of sensitive development.  We call on the council to lessen these buildings along the lines of reasonable sensitivity to the area.



The traffic report seems extremely inaccurate with numbers of cars at certain times unbelievably low.  It does not take into account the school, the universities and the major Broadway shopping Centre which make for a constant flow of many cars for a major part of each day 7 days a week.  The traffic flow chart ignores the plea we put into the council a year ago.


see below


Stop traffic increases in Bay, Cowper and Wentworth Streets

To: The Lord Mayor and City of Sydney Councilors and to Central Sydney Planning Committee members


The new developments at Cowper Street and 87 Bay Street will bring 700 new apartments into our area, increasing traffic. Elger Street, which has been a dead end, will be pushed through to Bay Street. Wentworth Street will be widened and may become two way instead of the current one way street. These changes will bring a massive increase in traffic, especially during peak periods and holiday shopping times like Christmas for the Broadway Shopping Centre.

We call on City of Sydney and the Central Sydney Planning Committee to:

  1. Keep Wentworth Street one way between Cowper and Bay Streets
  2. Close Elger Street near Bay Street


Name …………………………………………………………………………………..

Address ………………………………………………………………………………..


Signature ………………………………………………………………………………

Please sign this letter and stand up for the peace and security that exists here at the moment. Increased traffic down these quiet streets will result in risk to the elderly and the very young.

We must not let new developments infringe on our community amenities and quality of life.


The Hands off Glebe group will collect these forms from those addresses and approach the City of Sydney and the Central Sydney Planning Committee.



The traffic report does not keep Elger a one way street or Wentworth St.  Instead it ignores the knock on effect of these streets once the developments are fully finished.  There will be a serious blockage at the end of Cowper St near Glebe Pt Rd, and there is the possibility of ‘rat runs’ moving a lot of traffic through otherwise peaceful streets upsetting the amenity of the residents of the Estate.

We call on council to impose a traffic plan for the benefit of the residents of Glebe rather than for the convenience of developers.


The modification of the plan

Normally modification indicates a lessening of something but in building terms it is an old trick to pack and stack as many units as possible in a limited space.  We have witnessed this technique of developers to come back to council for ‘modifications’ ie meaning more levels and higher buildings.  We call on council to reject this ‘modification’ and maintain the agreed to heights and numbers of units.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Signed   Denis Doherty for Hands off Glebe