Surry Hills Social Housing Meeting

(10.30am, Wednesday 19 February 2014, Northcott Surry Hills)

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our meeting.

Since our meeting here last October, there have been a number of developments to report to you.


The Northcott Community Centre has re-opened this month with some terrific activities such as a new English Conversation and Reading class; gentle exercise classes; computer and art classes.

For a full list of activities, please talk to Kira Weiss or see the Community Centre timetable.

The Riley Street Community Room now has Tai Chi on Tuesday mornings.


The Surry Hills Library and Neighbourhood Centre continues to provide resources and activities for local residents, including access to computers and the internet. There are also the monthly markets, regular community meetings such as the monthly Surry Hills Community Drug Action team meetings, and of course the annual Surry Hills Festival.


The City is writing a new a Social Housing Wellbeing and Safety Action Plan which will guide our work with you until 2017. Thank you to everyone who participated in the surveys conducted so far.

The plan will be placed on public exhibition in June. If you have any questions about the Plan, Dom Grenot can give you more information shortly.


The City will be hosting another round of Good Neighbourhood BBQs this autumn together with NSW Police. The Surry Hills event will take place on Wednesday March 12, from 5pm-8pm, at Ward Park on the corner of Marlborough and Devonshire Streets. The event includes a free barbecue, live music, children's activities and a show from Australian Wildlife Displays, as well as information about City activities.

There will be an information stall provided by the Medicare Eastern Sydney office, whose role is to improve access to after-hours primary health care through partnerships with GPs, other primary care providers and aged care facilities, and to work with key partners to improve services for people living with mental illness and to improve health care for the homeless and vulnerable.

And there will also be a stall run by Transport NSW providing information about the City and South-East Light Rail project which will affect Surry Hills residents.


With the Light Rail going on Devonshire Street, we understand that you have concerns about the impact of construction works, particularly about the use of Ward Park as a work site.

Transport for NSW will use a number of open spaces along the proposed route as worksite compounds for the duration of the project.

While this is unfortunate, it is considered necessary to get construction done as quickly as possible.

In the case of Ward Park, the majority of the open space on the north east corner is proposed as the construction compound, however, the paths, playground and gardens at the western edge may remain accessible. Once the project is complete, Ward Park will be fully revitalised in consultation with the local community.

Transport for NSW considered Prince Alfred Park as an alternative site, but it was rejected because of conflicts between construction vehicle and cars, buses and cyclists, and concerns about the impact on the new pool facility.

While the City didn't oppose the use of Ward Park, we did raise a number of concerns about the impacts on residents of Surry Hills, and we asked Transport for NSW to consider use of Marlborough Street to minimise these impacts on Ward Park during construction.

To the City's knowledge the suggestion is yet to be investigated by Transport for NSW, as detailed construction planning has only just begun.

The City will continue to advocate for local residents to ensure construction work aims to minimise impacts and improve the safety and amenity of our streets.

I understand that all submissions are currently being reviewed, and details of any changes made to the project as a result of the submissions will be made public before planning approval for the project is given in April or May.

Our submission to the Environmental Impact Statement is available on the City website and City staff are here to answer any questions you might have about work along Devonshire street - Jennifer Faddy, the City's Senior Project Manager for City Transformation and Kristina Kalnins, Senior Engagement Community Coordinator.


Residents have met with the City to explore the idea of a community garden on Housing NSW land. The next step will be to meet with the community to discuss details of the garden, and with Housing NSW to discuss possible pruning of trees on the site to maximise sunlight to the garden. No grant has been requested at this stage, but that will be done once a plan and membership of the garden group is finalised.


I understand that some people in the community are disappointed that the City's Christmas concert in Ward Park was moved to Prince Alfred Park this year.

The City moved the carols to Prince Alfred Park to allow more people to enjoy the event and the newly upgraded facilities. Pedestrians and motorists who passed the park stopped to hear the carols and take part in the event. The carols were very successful in the new location, so it's unlikely the event will be returning to Ward Park in 2014, however I have asked City staff to organise a community bus to transport tenants to and from the event this year.

Parking in driveways and across disable access points is a big problem and the Tenants' Association, with representatives from LAHC, Housing NSW and the City will be attending a meeting at the Pottery Housing NSW office on Wednesday to discuss the parking situation around Northcott and the Pottery, as well as other public housing properties.

The Tenants Association Christmas Party and lunch went well, with over 100 meals served by tenant volunteers with funds raised by the association.

The Association would like to acknowledge the great work done by Kira Weiss as the local Housing NSW Community Development Worker.


The group received a $5,000 grant from the Attorney-General's Department graffiti removal program.

A Safety Audit of Surry Hills public Housing is planned for March.

Tenants are encouraged to nominate as an NAB representative at the upcoming 2014 elections.


The State Government is holding an inquiry into the demand for social, public and affordable housing in New South Wales.

I encourage tenants to make submissions before Friday 28 February.

You can lodge a submission or find more information on the NSW Parliaments Website, or you can write to:

The Director
Select Committee on Social, Public and Affordable Housing
Parliament House, Macquarie St
Sydney NSW 2000