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Northcott residents stressed by tramway build, new security measures

“Residents were told at the start that those in the three-storey units facing onto Devonshire Street would have double glazing installed, but Transport for NSW has reneged on that”, said Charmaine Jones of the Surry Hills Public Tenants Association. “Now they are saying they might put in double glazing at the end of the construction. What is the use of that?

“Instead, one day residents were confronted with contractors who demanded immediate access to their units, and threatened eviction if access was denied. They then sealed the windows facing Devonshire Street and installed a fresh air vent,” Ms Jones said.

“Those people living higher up in the towers, set back but still facing Devonshire Street, have quite severe noise impacts, especially at night, but Transport for NSW has made no offer to reduce this.”

It was a similar story with the large trees lining the street, some of them on Department of Housing land, some on the footpath. Residents were against the loss of the trees and the nesting sites for birds. A compromise was that there would be a study of the birds nesting there so that the best time of year could be chosen to remove the trees. But there was no report of a study, and residents relate a quote from the contractors that the best thing was to remove the trees early, “like ripping off a band-aid”.

A wide strip of land has been taken in front of the units on Devonshire Street, where some residents had developed their own private gardens. “Transport did a good thing when they carefully transplanted these gardens closer to the units, and saved them,” Ms Jones said.

Navigating Devonshire Street is a real challenge because the many barriers and access points move each day or several times a week. They are poorly signed and make it especially difficult for the elderly to find their way.



The Department of Housing recently installed 324 Closed Circuit TV cameras in the Northcott high rise, along with a new intercom system and new swipe cards. The new system has not yet been switched on.

The fear is that a resident will no longer be able to just take a lift from one floor to visit a friend on another floor, that they will have to travel to the ground floor, call their friend on the new intercom, and then ride the lift only to their friend’s floor.

“There was no consultation about this,” said Ms Jones. “We asked to see the blueprints, but were denied this. We could advise where best to place cameras. We don’t want to lose our social contacts in the building because of this new system. We don’t want to lose our privacy, but I have a camera looking directly into my kitchen window.

“We have no paid coordinator for our community centre, yet they made this massive investment in CCTV. We want a safe, secure environment with good social connections, but we are not consulted and there aren’t resources for our priorities. The lack of consultation only intensifies anxieties here,” Ms Jones concluded.

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