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Creedon St ‘hub’ plan angers residents

Thursday, 26th February, 2015

A concept drawing of the outside of the Creedon St building following upgrades. A concept drawing of the outside of the Creedon St building following upgrades.

By Erica Visser

City Council has put off a decision on whether to allow a public housing provider to turn a Creedon Street site into a gathering place for tenants, following backlash from nearby residents. 

A Development Application (DA) outlining the plan for a “community hub” at a vacant house at 123 Creedon Street was submitted by Compass Housing, which has the contract for public housing in Broken Hill.

Council last night deferred a decision on the DA until next month, after councillors had conducted a “site inspection”.

Compass hoped the project, which would see an upgraded kitchen and the addition of a shed and activities deck, would improve the reputation of the troubled area and provide a space to socialise and learn new skills.

But at least 15 residents living near the commission houses in Newton, Harris and Lunam streets as well as Pell Lane, turned up at last night’s meeting to oppose the bid.

“If this hub goes ahead you’re going to get more people congregating. Who’s going to monitor the situation?” said resident Steven Howarth, who spoke on the residents’ behalf. 

Submissions to Council outlined similar concerns over a potential increase in anti-social behaviour. 

“I’ve lived in Pell Street for 35 years and all I’ve seen is...disregard for everything,” one submission read.

“There’s a constant barrage of fighting, noise, litter, break and enter, foul language (and a) constant stream of police, ambulance, fire brigades and maintenance men attending these houses.

“Resources could be spent in better areas. All I can see is that the (hub) will end up like the other house at 123 - boarded up and vandalised.”

Another resident described the alcohol-free zone imposed on the area as “a real joke” and said the hub would only encourage more binge drinking.

But a submission from the NSW Police Force supported the project while conceding that police spent more time attending to problems at the Creedon Street “hotspot” than any other part in the city.

It said that discussions over a proposed community shed had gone on too long - “It is time to stop bickering and act” - and that the project would benefit disadvantaged children in the area. 

Compass representatives attended last night’s meeting in the hope of getting the green light, alongside the local builder who had been contracted to develop the hub.

The idea isn’t new - the project would follow the lead of a similar hub built on the NSW Central Coast that Compass claimed had been a success. 

Project Manager Lucy Andrews had previously argued the hub would be a “community-driven place for people to have fun, share information, support each other and build skills for a better life and better community.”

Compass has already put $100,000 towards establishing the hub and planned to apply for grants to expand the project.

The organisation has also appointed local woman Melanie Chynoweth-Holland as a tenant support and community participation officer.

Ms Andrews and Ms Chynoweth-Holland are in consultations with the community agencies to plan services to be offered from the hub if it were to be approved. 

These included an educational afternoon club for kids, adult cooking classes, as well as health programs such as ‘quit smoking’ classes. 

A community vegetable garden, bike repairing sessions, a toy library and counselling services were also in the pipeline. 

The hub would also be a venue for outreach services by providers such as Maari Ma, NSW Health and CentaCare.

It was also hoped the project would lift Creedon Street’s bad reputation which, according to Ms Andrews, sometimes meant people would rather go homeless than take up public housing in the neighbourhood.

A decision is now expected to be made at Council’s next monthly meeting at the end of March.

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