“It wasn’t about public housing, it was about the way it was done”: challenging planning not people in resisting the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan, Australia
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In response to the Global Financial Crisis of 2007–2009 the Australian Federal Government introduced the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan (NBESP) to halt possible descent into recession. The NBESP mobilised a number of economic triggers, such as family and business payments. However, the bulk of funds were allocated to large capital works programs focused on building educational infrastructure and new sociaxl housing. This paper explores the planning and delivery of the Social Housing Initiative (SHI) in New South Wales. The SHI rests at the centre of a series of complex and competing objectives of the Federal government responding to global economic conditions, State governments operating within timeline and budget constraints established by the Federal government, and councils and residents responding to local contexts. Global economic conditions acted as the catalyst for the most significant expenditure on social housing in decades. Nevertheless, support for construction was far from universal as a series of localised conflicts arose around the planning and implementation of the SHI. Using a series controversial development sites, this paper traces community and council concerns over social housing provided under the NBESP. These positions are contrasted by State government employees charged with implementing the program. The paper explores the major areas of local concern. What is apparent is that communities opposed to social housing development mobilised complex points and modes of resistance which extend beyond NIMBYism and anti-social housing rhetoric. This resistance encompass concerns around planning processes, urban design, local democracy, infrastructure provision and the character of place.