Public Meeting – Save Public Housing Glebe May 7

A excellent turn up heard reports from Michelle Fraser on the latest news on Cowper St.


Barney Gardiner of Millers Pt gave a very good report on what is happening to Millers Pt and why.


He urged solidarity across the suburbs in maintaining Public Housing in the inner West.


He urged unity with as many allies as we can.


He spoke of the support from Unions and others.


He suggested a giant rally of all housing tenants and their supporters.


Denis Doherty



Annual Report of Hands off Glebe



7 May 2014



Hands off Glebe was incorporated in June 2013.

Hands off Glebe Inc has held regular monthly meetings and have a bank account with the SGE Credit Union.

Meetings are minuted and minutes circulated by email or post to members. Regular finance reports are tabled at meetings.

Hands off Glebe Inc has set up a post box and a website.


Hands off Glebe Inc launched its “50 Ways to Keep Your Fence Up” CD and the Glebe Grapevine at a public event in August 2013. We had a good crowd which included Jack and Judy Mundy, Jamie Parker MP and Cllr Linda Scott… and who can forget Diane’s cake with its purple icing!

In March 2014 Hands off Glebe Inc held its “March for Maintenance in March”. We had a good crowd outside Parliament House, despite pouring rain. Speakers included ALP Leader John Robertson, local MP Jamie Parker, and representatives of public housing tenants from Millers Point, Kings Cross, Camperdown, Wollongong and other areas.


Since its first issue in May 2013, Hands off Glebe Inc have written, had printed and letterboxed 5,000 copies of a total of seven (7) issues of the Glebe Grapevine.

In some cases the number was increased to 6,000 when free printing was donated.

Organising printing and letterboxing is co-ordinated by Denis and carried out efficiently and speedily by a team of “Grapevine Walkers” who now each have their regular areas..


Hands off Glebe Inc has produced a CD on broken fences in Glebe (many Hands off Glebe Inc then repaired) and an audio disk of satirical songs.

We have uploaded the following Youtube clips
Glebe fences
4 clips of launch
demolition at Cowper Street
4 films of the March for Maintenance

Hands off Glebe Inc has produced a range of leaflets which have been delivered at events or locally. (display file available)

Hands off Glebe Inc has sent out media releases and gained some media coverage for our campaigns and events. (display file available)

Hands off Glebe Inc members have attended many public meetings and have spoken there on a range of issues.

Hands off Glebe Inc collected signatures on a petition to have the Cowper Street site used exclusively for public housing and this was tabled for us in State Parliament by local MP Jamie Parker.

The campaign to get the leak (now officially called a “discharge”) off Mitchell Street was underway in May 2013 and is still going on!

Hands off Glebe Inc has campaigned for repair of fences, the removal of the “hanging gardens”, the reorganisation of Westmoreland Street, rising rents and other local issues.


Hands off Glebe Inc has sent in many submissions regarding Cowper Street and the development at 87 Bay Street.

We also made submissions to the NSW Select Committee of Enquiry into public housing.

Hands off Glebe Inc members have attended many Council meetings and have spoken there on a range of issues.


Hands off Glebe Inc has raised fiancés for its activities through membership fees, donations and appeals.

All seven issues of the Grapevine have been funded through donations and appeals. The Grapevine Printing Appeal begun at the end of 2013 has so far raised $1,880 – enough to pay for printing 4 issues.

We are currently running a guessing competition (raffle) to raise funds for our general work.


Hands off Glebe Inc has actively supported the campaigns to:

Save the Glebe Youth Service

Stop the sell off of public housing at Millers Point and The Rocks

Stop the building of an outsize supermarket at Harold Park

Prevent unsuitable road access to Harold Park


Hands off Glebe Inc would not survive without the range of support we receive. We would like to express our special thanks to:

  • Jamie Parker MP and the staff at his office
  • The MUA and the CFMEU for our 2 banners and for much photocopying
  • Our Grapevine walkers:  Adam, Ann, Barry, Denis, Diane, Erica, Hannah, Jennifer, Jules & Jenny, Julie, Michael, Michele, Peter, Simon and Shimi.
  • All our donors

Housing Dept and its weasel words

This excerpt from the submission to council for demolition

Shameful document showing the massive hyprocrisy of the Housing Dept.



The development of new social housing on the Cowper Street site will provide a number of social benefits. The first two of these benefits, namely the increased capacity to meet housing need and the ability to provide more appropriate housing assistance, have been discussed at 5.2 above. In addition to these, the following benefits will be achieved:

  • Improved amenity – the proposed development will lead to significant improvements in streetscape, dwelling and site amenity in the estate, through the construction of new housing and improved road layouts. It is also expected that market-driven facilities, such as shopping/medical/recreational will be injected into the estate and/or in the adjoining vicinity following the completion of these well designed, environmentally sustainable housing developments. The project consists of blocks with built courtyards, substantial planting, extensive paved areas, lifts, communal entertaining areas, and roof spaces with drying spaces and clothesline. The apartments have balconies, north facing rooms and fencing that separate them from communal areas. The courtyards increase the length of perimeter wall, number of windows, sunlight and air to achieve cross ventilation.
  • The creation of a mixed community – The proposed development would provide a mix of housing tenures (50% market housing, 32% social housing and 18% affordable housing). Research has shown that increasing the mix of housing tenures in an area is an outcome which underpins housing-led regeneration programs across Australia. This can result in a

whole range of benefits including increased tenant satisfaction, economic participation, educational opportunities and improvements in health outcomes (Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Research Synthesis Service, March 2009).

The overall social benefit for the entire Glebe estate from the proposed development is measured at almost $9.3 million per annum. The total return from a present value perspective, over 25 years, is calculated to be $108.2 million.

Evaluation by Housing NSW of the range of options for estate renewal has found that these benefits could not be achieved by simply renovating, upgrading or extending the existing social housing stock. Upgrading alone would only lead to a social benefit in the low/medium to medium range, while partial redevelopment increases it to medium/high to high. However, redevelopment within the existing planning controls for the site would not provide the optimum yield for the land and the contemplated mix of housing tenures. Furthermore, the relatively low yield would not attract a joint venture partner from the private sector.


One of the key drivers for the proposed development is the need to increase the supply of affordable rental housing with the City of Sydney. As explained in 5.1 above the delivery of affordable housing will be achieved through the transfer of Housing NSW land to a not for profit developer which will use its own funds mixed with debt finance and grant funding from the NSW and Commonwealth Governments to develop 83 units of affordable rental housing.

A recent study into the supply of low cost rental housing in Australia found that “Among capital cities, Sydney stands out as the least affordable for low-income private renters. Not only does Sydney have a severe shortage of affordable stock (one available stock for every seven low-income households); it also has the worst situation in terms of stock availability (one affordable and available stock for every 15 low-income private renters)”. The shortage of low cost stock is evidenced by the very high levels of housing


Glebe Affordable Housing Project – Job No: 09070 REZ Page 4



The Cowper St Mess part 2

MA Essay by DD for a peace journalism course

Part 2 Theoretical

By Denis Doherty


Peace Journalism requires that the issues be conflict – solution oriented, in this case the transparency of the project has to be revealed. The necessity to attack the words ‘affordable housing’, ‘social mix’, and urban renewal is because this was not being carried or planned for; in fact it was a case of larceny. Reverse Robin Hood, ‘stealing from the poor to give to the rich’.

The parties to the conflict all had voices, the MP, the ALP Councillor who is the aunt of the MP and Housing NSW were in a good position to push their views while the those being operated on were seemingly powerless.

The MP and the Government want to be re-elected this year so they had to put the best face on what they were doing. The MP for the area is in one of the danger seats for the ALP where she may loose her seat to the Greens Candidate for the seat of Balmain. Jamie Parker the popular Mayor of Leichhardt is the Greens candidate for the seat. Hence the term ‘Glebe Affordable Housing Project’ was pushed by both State and Federal reps for the area. The local media has been described a real estate newsletters and they had no interest in pushing for truth about the project. In fact this development would bring more business their way.

Many of tenants of Housing NSW were passive but we knew that this type of passivity was due to a suppressed form of anger. The people themselves knew they were being conned but many kept their heads down but not all there are some who really believe that Housing NSW is doing a good job. Resistance and finding it was a major job for the media intervention fortunately the new development will threaten a nearby street of private owners with overshadowing. The residents of this street Queen St started the resistance. This group started out the ‘Hands off Glebe’ (HoG) the people of this group requested a media intervention strategy. They also extended their group into the Glebe Estate among the tenants of Housing NSW.


The campaign to save the dwellings located in the area of Glebe known as Cowper Street project is a classic dispossession story. The Government’s side is inspired by the tenets of neo-liberalism which means that Government should get smaller hence the need for providing housing to the state’s citizens can be done away with, and less tax which means in the case of housing ‘more’ is supposed with done with ‘less’. The result is that all over the state pubic housing is gradually being eroded and privatised. One councillor in the Campbelltown area described the process as ‘social cleansing.’


A classic mode of operation by the Government is to neglect the maintenance of the houses and ignore the pleas of tenants for renewals and improvements. Eventually due to the weather and the usual wear and tear the houses became uninhabitable and then Housing NSW magnanimously suggests that the house/block or estate will have to be sold as it is too expensive to repair.


The Cowper Street mess is the Glebe variant on this mode of operation. It has some of these elements as well as a few distinctive features. One drawback that the Housing Dept has is that they 2 years ago did massive repairs to the buildings plus put lifts in some of the blocks. The Housing Dept promised the tenants suitable replacements but dreadful flats with yellowing walls from years of heavy smoking with power sockets hanging out of the wall. Take up residence in these flats and Housing NSW will renovate but tenants with years of inaction by Housing NSW would not be convinced.


Housing NSW explained the following in a submission to Sydney City Council for a Development Application (DA):

“Evaluation by Housing NSW of the range of options for estate renewal has found that these benefits could not be achieved by simply renovating, upgrading or extending social housing stock. Upgrading alone would only lead to a social benefit in the low/medium to medium range, while partial redevelopment increases it to medium /high to high. However, redevelopment within the existing planning controls for the site would not provide the optimum yield for the land and the contemplated mix of housing tenures. Furthermore, the relatively low yield would not attract a joint venture partner from the private sector.

Housing NSW is laid bare in all its complicity, it wants to privatise and engage in a public private partnership which is the same as privatisation! The needs of the tenants do not rate considering once you have ‘yield’ meaning more people able to buy dwellings which equals profit. Housing NSW is in the business of real estate not housing!


Background Information on Cowper Street

The Cowper Street Redevelopment Project


Prepared in 2010

Recent press reports suggest that the NSW Government ‘needs’ to sell off homes in Millers Point and Glebe to obtain the money necessary to fund the redevelopment of a Housing estate in Glebe. This is an area of 1.6 hectares bounded by Wentworth, Cowper and Bay Streets. Existing development comprises 134 low rise flats constructed in the 1950s and 1960s.


The NSW State government proposes to demolish these flats. In their place it is proposed to construct 500 units. 250 of these will be privately owned, 153 are to be public housing and the balance is to be affordable housing. The units will be built in towers up the 10 storeys high. The public housing units will be smaller than the existing units, and will offer less amenity as they will be crowded onto a small area at the southern end of the site with little access to sunlight or views.


There is also to be commercial development on the site, and Elger Street will be extended to Bay Street increasing traffic flows through the back streets of Glebe.


As yet the NSW Government has not released the actual plans and say they have not decided just how many units they can cram onto the site. They are waiting to get the tenants out before they commit themselves. Concept plans provided to Council show tenants will be expected to make do with a combined living dining and kitchen space and fully enclosed bathrooms which will need mechanical ventilation. The local Member Ms Firth advises that the units will not be suitable for children.


According to public announcements the NSW Government has raised $20 million for this project from the sale of homes and the Federal Government has chipped in $9 million for site development including the removal of fill containing asbestos which the Department of Housing advises should not be disturbed.


This is a redevelopment no one wants or needs. Any spare money the State Government has should be spent on maintaining the existing housing stock in Glebe and Millers Point.


Residents of Glebe including public tenants, private owners and private tenants have had enough of the NSW Government’s creeping privatisation of public housing. They are fighting back. A group of residents have combined in a group called ‘Hands off Glebe’.


Signs and stickers have appeared all over Glebe proclaiming ‘Hands off Glebe’ and ‘Hands off My Home’ in a direct message to the NSW Government and private developers that there will be resistance to their money making plans at the expense of this community.


Glebe is an old largely intact suburb of Sydney. Its heritage buildings and townscape are worth preserving . The Whitlam government certainly thought so when it purchased the Glebe Estate in 1974. When the Federal Government handed over the Glebe Estate to the NSW Government in the mid 1980s it was on the promise that the historic townscape of Glebe would be preserved and its low income community protected.


These present proposals serve neither of those ends. High rise development will destroy the character of Glebe. The disruption to the community is unnecessary and pointless. The homes which the NSW Government proposes to demolish are well built with established gardens and mature trees. Tenants who have lived here since the homes were new are being forced to leave.


This project comes in the face of NSW Government’s lack of care for public housing and the gradual running down of public housing stock. The NSW Government has been lax in maintenance of their buildings and have been quietly selling off houses and keeping houses empty while the clamour for more housing and affordable housing is continuing. The churning of housing – that is, selling houses to build more houses – only serves the interests of the developers.


The ‘Hands Off’ group can provide to Media the contact details of individual tenants who are affected by the this proposal and who are prepared to talk about their history and their views of the proposed redevelopment. The Hands Off group also can provide:

  • A copy of a letter from the Federal Government to tenants of the Glebe Estate in 1984 promising that they would be looked after and the historic townscape of Glebe would be preserved.
  • A copy of a letter to tenants of the Cowper Street flats sent in April of this year advising of the presence of asbestos.
  • The concept plans submitted to Council by the Department of Housing








Previous ALP State Government media release Nov 8 2010


The Hon Frank Terenzini

Minister for Housing

Minister for Small Business

Minister Assisting the Premier on Veterans’ Affairs


Monday November 8, 2010

Glebe Affordable Housing Plans on Display

Housing Minister Frank Terenzini today announced plans for the $170-million

Cowper Street Glebe Redevelopment Project had been approved for public display by the City of Sydney Council.

Mr Terenzini said this massive project has the potential to deliver up to 486 homes – a fairly even mix of private, affordable and social housing.

“Glebe is an area of high demand with many people on low to moderate incomes being priced out of the local private rental market.

“The Cowper Street Glebe Redevelopment Project will have a big impact on housing affordability in the area, especially for older people wanting to stay reasonably close to the city and all its services.

Mr Terenzini said the concept plans for the Cowper Street project will go on public display at the City of Sydney offices from next Monday (November 15) and that will give local residents the ideal opportunity to have their say on the project.

Member for Balmain Verity Firth welcomed this important first stage of an approval process that will bring significant change to our vibrant inner city suburb.

“There is an urgent need for affordable housing close to the city to ensure that individuals and families on low and moderate incomes including essential workers such as nurses, police, cleaners and retail staff can afford to live close to where they work.”

Mr Terenzini said that when works get underway, some of the ageing apartment buildings will be demolished and replaced with homes that will better suit the needs of older people, families and people seeking affordable housing close to where they work.

“Affordable Housing is housing which is subsidised to meet the needs of individuals and families on low and moderate incomes including essential workers such as nurses, police, cleaners and retail staff who work difficult hours and therefore need to live near their work.

There will be no loss in the numbers of social housing on the site but the new-build social housing will be managed by not-for-profit community housing provider Bridge Housing.

Bridge Housing Limited CEO John Nicolades, said we are delighted to be selected as the community housing provider in this positive redevelopment initiative which increases the supply of affordable housing and enables older low income households to remain in their community.

Mr Terenzini said City West Housing has been appointed as the not-for-profit developer for the project and it’s their responsibility to deliver the affordable housing component while working with Bridge Housing to deliver all of the social housing.

“City West will then continue its involvement by managing the affordable housing after the construction phase is completed.

City West Housing CEO Richard Perkins said we are very excited about being involved in the regeneration of this site to produce a high quality living environment for older people and those on lower struggling to pay rents in the private market.

Mr Terenzini said the Project has a range of funding sources, including the NSW Government through Housing NSW, $9 million from the Commonwealth Government’s Housing Affordability Fund, and contributions by City West and Bridge Housing.

“A large financial contribution to the social housing component of the project will be funded from the sale of a number of 99-year leases in Millers Point by Housing NSW.

“The timeline for the redevelopment is still being finalised, but demolition is expected to commence in 2011 and the redevelopment itself will take approximately 24 months to complete.

Mr Terenzini said that, as always, the exit strategy for tenants who’ll need to be

relocated during the construction phase, will be handled sensitively by Relocation

Coordinators who will discuss their every need and preferred alternative location.

“The Cowper Street Glebe Redevelopment Project is a great example of the State Government’s commitment to looking after those most in need in our community and delivering on our commitment to increasing the supply of affordable housing in high need areas, Mr Terenzini said.


Bridge Housing Limited manages 1300 dwellings assisting 2400 households on low and moderate incomes across inner metropolitan area of Sydney and operates across the following local government areas: Ashfield , Auburn , Botany Bay, Burwood, Canada Bay, Canterbury, Leichhardt, Marrickville, Randwick, Parramatta, Strathfield, Sydney City, and Waverley.

City West Housing has15 years experience in developing/constructing high quality rental housing for people on low to moderate incomes in inner Sydney.

City West currently has 548 properties with approximately 1100 tenants and operates across the City of Sydney local government area, with buildings in Ultimo/Pyrmont and the Green Square area of South Sydney.


General Information

The NSW Department of Housing plans to redevelop the housing estate in Glebe bounded by Wentworth Street, Bay Street, Cowper Street, and the rear of premises on Queen Street.
The plan includes:
· Demolition of 134 existing units.
· Construction of 153 ‘social housing’ units
· Plus construction of 83 affordable housing units.
· Plus construction of 250 privately owned units.
· Plus construction of retail spaces (shops) in Bay and Wentworth Streets
Hands Off Glebe calls on the Federal and NSW State Governments to:
· Abandon the proposed demolition of public housing flats in Glebe.
· Abandon the proposed construction of public housing in Glebe as high rise high density development.
· Abandon proposals to redevelop publicly owned land in Glebe as privately owned high rise units.
· Preservation of the historic townscape of Glebe and the protection of its low income community.
· Abandon plans to house public tenants in small high rise units.
· Divert funds allocated to the above proposals to pay instead for the expansion and improvement of public housing, especially by maintaining and where required upgrading existing homes.
Government lies!
The Government claims it is building better housing for public tenants, but the new units will be inferior to the existing homes. But there will be:
· Less access to light and ventilation.
· Most bathrooms fully enclosed.
· Smaller units.
· No gardens.
· No areas to dry washing.
· Overshadowing of units and open space on the site.
· Combined living, dining and kitchen areas even in two bedroom units.
· No parking for public tenants.