Social housing tenants in East Orange may know within weeks if they are to be relocated and their houses demolished to make way for smaller, higher density properties.
Executives from the Land and Housing Corporation, which oversees the development of social housing in NSW, came to Orange from Sydney to conduct forums with concerned locals at Orange Ex-Services' Club.
Thirteen residents were at the final session.
Among those who attended one of the forums earlier in the day were state MP Phil Donato - who has vowed to pressure the government in parliament - mayor Reg Kidd and deputy mayor Glenn Taylor.
In October last year social housing residents in and around Spring Street, some of whom had lived in their properties for decades, received a letter from the NSW Land and Housing Corporation saying it 'intends to redevelop the property in which you currently live. This means that you will need to be relocated to alternative accommodation'.
According to the letter, 'Redevelopment is a process where NSW Land and Housing Corporation improves properties, complexes, or areas by upgrading them, or demolishing them and replacing them with new, and more properties that are suitable for social housing tenants'.
The reaction from community members around Spring Street was immediate and furious, as they felt the current blend of owners, renters and social housing tenants was the ideal, and not something that should be tampered with.
Following a community protest attended by deputy mayor Glenn Taylor, and a series of reports in the Central Western Daily highlighting the stories of those affected, the residents also gained the support of mayor Reg Kidd and Nationals MLC Sam Farraway, the latter of whom spoke with dozens of protesters in late November.
In December the LAHC halted the project.
Four months later, the affected residents remain in limbo.
Among those at the forum representing the state government were Naveen Chandra, executive director strategy and delivery for the NSW government's Housing and Property Group; Amar Prashant, LAHC development director for Western Sydney and Western NSW; and Kim Campbell from the Department of Communities and Justice.
Mr Prashant said there was a shortage in Orange of social housing stocks for those needing studios and one-and-two-bedroom properties, and that there were larger properties not being fully utilised.
"There is a level of under-occupancy that exists within our portfolio," he said.
Of the three-bedroom properties in the LAHC's portfolio in Orange, Mr Prashant said 'roughly one-third are under-occupied'.
"That mismatch of where our asset profile is, and where the demand is, that needs to be re-balanced from time to time," he said.
Residents were shown black and white line drawings of a number of potential designs for the land on Spring Street on a projector, however they were so small, fuzzy and basic as to serve no real purpose other than add confusion to proceedings.
Kellie Agland lives near the proposed development and attended the first and final sessions.
"The department admitted they didn't follow proper planning processes - the letters were issued to residents before they did any community consultation and that's not really the half of it," she said.
After the forum, Mr Chandra said his 'commitment is to consider that feedback across the sessions very carefully with the team and respond in coming weeks'.
"We need to work in partnership with the community to address the long-term challenges we spoke about today," he said.
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