Angry residents protest in Charlestown over public housing plans

SIMMERING rage over public housing in the Hunter boiled over yesterday when about 70 people gathered for a protest in Charlestown.

Residents fighting public housing plans at Charlestown, Teralba, Tighes Hill, Swansea, Tingira Heights and Throsby Creek attended.

They were expecting to meet NSW Housing Minister David Borger, but he cancelled.

Instead Charlestown MP Matthew Morris and the Department of Housing Northern NSW general manager Pauline McKenzie were left to respond.

Residents were angry the NSW Government had allowed the department to bypass councils and "self-approve" public housing, under a Federal plan to stimulate the economy.

Charlestown Residents Group spokesman Phillip Regent said residents' rights had been ignored.

"The department has bulldozed its way through the system and we're not going to put up with it," he said.

A three-storey public housing plan on two blocks in Charlestown Road has 20 units and four car parking spaces.

Peter Mundy, whose backyard will adjoin the project, said it would ruin his lifestyle.

Lake Macquarie City councillor Barry Johnston said the plan showed "complete disregard" for council planning guidelines.

Jeane Brown, who has lived in Charlestown Road for 68 years, said the project's driveway would be next to her bedroom.

"I'll have no privacy and no sunlight," she said.

Ms McKenzie urged residents to submit concerns to the department within the 21-day exhibition period, which ends in five days.

Residents fear their complaints will be ignored, but Mr Morris said he would urge the department to redesign the project.

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