The Victorian government's quest to rapidly increase social and affordable housing stock looks set to swallow up open space and increase population density at the North Richmond, as well as Collingwood housing estates.
New buildings containing social and affordable housing - which are run by private operators - are planned in both densely populated estate areas as part of the government's $5.3 billion Big Housing Build.
At Collingwood, two new eight-storey buildings of 152 dwellings that government agency Homes Victoria plans to add to the Wellington St estate have already proved controversial, with residents protesting bitterly about the loss of open space and sunlight, basketball courts, a playground and car parking.
At Richmond, up to 800 new apartments are apparently on the drawing board, potentially doubling the estate's population of 2000 people.
Officially 144 new dwellings are planned for the North Richmond site at 147-161 Elizabeth St, with a spokesperson for the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing saying no further building or construction work had been "confirmed".
However, as reported in The Age, Homes Victoria's North Richmond Draft Masterplan refers to "around 800 new social and affordable homes" as a "key outcome", and features a diagram showing more than 20 new buildings, an uncertain number of which would contain housing.
The department said consultation had been carried out on both projects but its engagement report on North Richmond shows only 55 people took part in an online survey and workshop, not all of them from the area.
Independent Yarra councillor Steve Jolly, whose Langridge ward adjoins the housing estate, told the Inner East Review he thought few residents there or in the surrounding area had been aware of the plans.
Under the Big Build scheme, which aims to create 12,000 new homes by the end of 2025, projects bypass council planning processes and residents' rights to object.
A Yarra City Council spokesperson said the council "look[ed] forward to working with Homes Victoria on a plan for the sites' redevelopment.
"Council is committed to achieving a positive outcome for the residents of these estates and will continue to advocate on behalf of the local community".