Social housing project designed for both elderly and people with disability

LONDON: A social housing project has been uniquely designed to cater for both the elderly and people with a disability.

A 24-unit “climate responsive” social housing development in White Gum Valley has been approved in an effort to alleviate Fremantle’s public housing waitlist.

Last Wednesday, the City of Fremantle council unanimously approved plans for the three-storey development at Lot 2, 1 Beazley Way.

The properties will be a combination of one and two-bedroom units, which proponents say is to address the social housing waitlist demand.

It will be designed by Subiaco-based architects MJA Studio.

“We are striving to achieve low energy costs for low-income occupants,” MJA Studio architect Catherine Roden said.

Once the development is complete, it will be sold to a community housing provider.

The council also approved an amendment from Cr Andrew Sullivan that encourages Development WA to “consider improvements to universal accessibility throughout the site”.

Multiple Fremantle residents gave deputations opposing the development and raised concerns about antisocial behaviour, sustainability, consultation and overlooking.

One resident — who lives on Coode Street, Fremantle, opposite another social housing development — said he “100 per cent” rejected the Beazley Way project.

“I’ve witnessed drug dealing, I’ve witnessed wife bashing, I’ve protected two lots of Aboriginal families in my garden who are about to be beaten by their partners … I’ve had dog poo all over the place (at my Coode Street home)… that’s what people on 1 Beazley Way can one day expect when they get their beautiful social housing,” he said.

“We fear for our lives on that street, and that’s continuous.

“So I’m just warning those lovely people in White Gum Valley … they are in for one hell of a life if that (development) goes here without proper management plans.”

But Ms Roden said the development would prioritise surveillance.

“The ambition for Beazley Way is to deliver high-quality climate-responsive social housing that prioritises resident and community wellbeing,” she said.

“Passive surveillance is prioritised to and from the site with no concealed spaces or undercrofts, mitigating loitering and antisocial behaviour.

“Our landscape design … (has) integrated a climate responsive design, meeting the White Gum Valley design guidelines as well as the objectives of the city’s urban forest plan.”

Another MJA Studio spokesperson said the apartments were compliant with overlooking standards.

“We designed the orientation of the building for a few key reasons; one was so no residents had to look primarily over a carpark … and it was a really integral part of the design review panel to have us activate the streetscape,” the spokesperson said.

“We’ve only removed one tree from the site … but we’ve really actively worked to retain all the trees.”

Cr Ingrid van Dorssen — who is also a project manager at Uniting WA — said it was important for social housing residents to integrate with the community.

“The issues often that we have in the community are when it’s just pure social housing, and there’s no support for people living there, and they are left to their own devices without much monitoring,” she said.

“I do encourage when it comes to that future use tenancy purchase arrangement that the Department of Communities engages with community housing providers.”

In March, the state and federal governments announced a joint venture to build 16 social housing dwellings in Coolbellup, specifically for seniors on the public housing waitlist.