A proposal to allow affordable/social housing instead of student accommodation at a Seddon address has been refused by Maribyrnong council after strong opposition from residents.
Unison Housing’s planning application for 69-79 Buckley Street received 21 objections from 14 properties.
One objector who spoke at last week’s council meeting, David Vasudevan, said residents were not against social housing but “the level of concentration” in the area.
He said last year there were 44 ambulance call-outs in the immediate area.
“Our own neighbours next door – they’re tenants – they’re actually going to move out because of this application,” Mr Vasudevan said.
“Their kids have been witnessing fights, arguments, police and ambulance call-outs and their kids can’t sleep in the front room because they’re traumatised by what happened.”
According to a council report, Ambulance Victoria provided a detailed list of call-outs in nearby Bute, Buckley, Arran and Bilston streets and recorded 44 or one every eight days.
Mayor Michael Clarke moved that the application be refused on several grounds including “an unacceptably high concentration of social and affordable housing in the area” and “adverse amenity impacts to surrounding properties”.
He said the building was purpose-built for students and the rooms were “deliberately small” and unsuited to “long-term accommodation for highly-vulnerable clients”.
“We recognise the need for affordable housing – we do not shirk from this as a responsibility – but implicit within this responsibility is the need to ensure that the environs that we give those who are in need is appropriate and commensurate to those needs,” Cr Clarke said.
“It is not fair to squeeze people into facilities that are quite simply going to be counterproductive when it comes to the psychological health of the people that we are trying to supposedly help.”
Cr Jorge Jorquera argued there should be affordable/social housing allowed at the address.
Following the meeting, he took to social media to criticise the council’s refusal.
“The rejection of this proposal means less options for homeless accommodation in a time of great and increasing need,” he stated.
“This vote comes on the heels of a significant amount of pressure from local residents who opposed the conversion of this Unison-run property from student to homeless accommodation.
“Having lived in the west for a long time, none of the arguments made by these residents were much of a surprise.
“Gentrification often brings with it people who are willing to talk the talk of social justice and liberal ideas, but not walk the walk.
“If your house is nearby some challenging neighbours, you are not the first one to experience this.
“Neither is the solution to find more appropriate places for ‘them’.”
Crs Michael Clarke, Anthony Tran, Sarah Carter and Cuc Lam voted for student accommodation at the address; Crs Jorge Jorquera and Bernadette Thomas supported affordable/social housing at the address and Cr Simon Crawford wasn’t present at the meeting.