THERE'S a little too much hope required for people to be comfortable about NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LHC) plans to rezone land at Windale, that could include 151 homes currently rented for social housing.
Certainly there's not enough detail available so far about how LHC plans to provide a "better social housing experience" for residents via a greater mix of housing the suburb, including private ownership.
What is known is that LHC wants to encourage medium-density housing, like units and townhouses, in the walkable area between Windale and Mount Hutton.
That sounds commendable. Houses are decades-old and most likely reaching the point where maintenance costs, and better utilisation of the relatively large block sizes, make redevelopment a sensible move.
But the lack of information is a concern.
The zoning change is part of a planning proposal lodged by Lake Macquarie council last year, but Windale residents found out about the changes only recently.
This NSW government has a rocky record on moving into areas with big plans, failing to consult, lack of transparency and cost blowouts. It leaves itself open to charges of being too close to developers when the shutters go down on information to the public, as it has here.
People live in the homes that now have large question marks over them. Some quoted in the Newcastle Herald today have rented their homes at Windale for years. Their children attend local schools and have friends in the area. People living in social housing who might otherwise be disconnected from the community have built up a community there.
They don't know what the future now brings. Which houses will be affected? What will happen to people when homes have to be demolished?
There are no answers to these questions at the moment. People living in the area now have a long limbo period ahead of them while the processes required to achieve the LHC plan work their way through the system.
It is reasonable to ask why big decisions like this, with real impacts on people's lives and well-being, are regularly accompanied by silence. Such a process demands trust on the part of the community. And as we know, there is a real trust deficit in governments now. Situations like that at Windale don't help.
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