High on a list of issues for local residents was the SMDA’s plan to allocate 12 per cent of the total floor space to affordable housing in accordance with the federal government’s Housing Affordability Fund, which would designate $7.19m of commonwealth funds for the project.
Kerrie Symonds and Jason Perica from the SMDA fronted the panel, in addition to representatives Eloise Murphy from Save Leamington Avenue, and Bruce Lay, a local heritage architect and planner.
Kerrie Symonds addressed the concerns of residents with regard to the affordable housing proposal asserting that they were not the same thing as housing commission apartments, and that the residents ranged from those on very low incomes up to middle-income households earning as much as $82,000 a year.
Upon seeing pictures of other HAF affordable housing buildings in Zetland and Alexandria the crowd snickered and jeered, with one resident exclaiming, “You must be joking!” After hearing from the SMDA representatives on issues from the transport management plan, to affordable housing, and RailCorp’s indication that much of the proposed North Eveleigh site may not be available for development, the floor was opened for questions.
Local resident Julian Schuchard wanted to know when the unemployed/employed mix for the affordable housing allocation would be known, and received support from the crowd when he described the prospect of Zetland architecture in Newtown as “terrifying”.
Many residents were concerned about the traffic plan for the site, with all traffic entering through the current Carriageworks driveway, creating issues for residents of adjacent Queen Street. Long-term local resident Kyra Henderson raised concerns about the construction traffic from City Road, down Golden Grove Street towards the North Eveleigh site, suggesting the route was dangerous as is, but the introduction of b-doubles could make it deadly.
Finally, Eloise Murphy from Save Leamington Avenue seemed to have the support of the 80 locals gathered when she suggested that the consultation prior to the 2008 concept plan for the site had been inadequate, and that the SMDA would need to do a better job of communicating and consulting with local residents and engaging stakeholders.
Many questions remained unanswered on the evening, the most pertinent being RailCorp’s undisclosed plans for the North Eveleigh site that may affect three-quarters of the total North Eveleigh precinct. Representatives from RailCorp and Transport NSW were not available for the meeting.