Monday, May 2, 2016

Estate renewal study for Airds-Bradbury

NSW Health has published a study examining the impact of the renewal of Public Housing on the "health, particularly chronic disease, quality of life and wellbeing" of affected tenants. The 'health impact assessment' examines the short and long-term consequences of relocation for tenants affected by the demolition and redevelopment of Public Housing estates in Airds and Bradbury, near Campbelltown. 

The redevelopment project will deliver a 'mixed tenure' community of approximately 2000 dwellings, of which 30% will be Social Housing and 70% private market housing. Demolition, reconstruction, and tenant relocations are progressing slowly, and are expected to continue past 2020. According to the study, 3507 people lived in the estates when works commenced in 2011. Tenants have the opportunity to move back into Airds-Bradbury as new Social Housing becomes available, though many have opted to relocate elsewhere in the Campbelltown area. 

Above: land clearing works at Airds

The study describes the old estates as "poor quality", and posits that poor housing - particularly limited access to recreation spaces, healthy food, and social and health care services - is a driver of poor health. It also suggests that health issues experienced by Airds-Bradbury tenants are compounded by the area's status as "one of the most socially and economically disadvantaged areas in NSW". Given works commenced relatively recently, the study only makes short-term findings. 

In relation to the relocation and rehousing process, the study concludes broadly that the process has had "positive and negative health impacts, often dependent on the individual, the circumstances of their relocation and their perceived sense of control". Residents who were actively involved throughout the relocation process, and who received personalised support, reported a more positive impact.

Findings related to tenants leaving the 'poor' built environment of the old estates for higher quality housing were similarly mixed. Some reported "reduced stress, increased physical accessibility and an improved sense of privacy and safety", and positive impact related to the provision of housing according to their individual needs. Similarly, many reported increased feelings of safety and security. However, single people and childless couples reported negative psychological health impacts when required to move to smaller properties. 

The impact of relocation on tenants' community networks was identified as problematic. Many reported negative impacts, related to either displacement or isolation for those relocated within the depopulated estate. This is particularly concerning as such networks are something that, according to the report, "socioeconomically disadvantaged groups tend to rely quite strongly on...for their physical and mental health".

The study ultimately finds that housing providers and health organisations should attend to four major considerations in the administration of estate redevelopments:

"1. [New] housing and neighbourhood generally are planned and built to high design standards;

2. Disruptions and inconveniences to individuals and the community during the actual redevelopment are reduced to the minimum;

3. There are appropriate services and procedures in place to support residents during each stage of the planning, renewal and relocation process; and

4. The needs and preferences of individual residents are taken into account."

Though the scale of the Airds-Bradbury redevelopment is itself considerable, the study is of potentially broader relevance. Both the suite of Communities Plus projects and the renewal project at Cowper Street, Glebe, involve the demolition of Public Housing for 'mixed communities' at the 30-70 ratio. 

We welcome feedback from all tenants affected by estate renewal works, including those at Airds and Bradbury. This may be provided anonymously to contact [@]

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