Richman Place asbestos houses demolished, affordable housing to be built – The Canberra Times

Six houses made nearly entirely out of asbestos on a Kambah street have been demolished to make way for affordable accommodation.

Canberra Community Housing bought the six blocks of land in Richman Place from the Land Development Agency this month.

The not-for-profit housing provider plans to build 11 dwellings on the site.

Three of the blocks would have standalone houses, one would have a standard and ancillary house, and the remaining two would have six small single-storey dwellings.

The project would replace six houses demolished last year after residents learned the properties were made nearly entirely out of bonded asbestos.

The National Capital Development Commission built the experimental modular houses out of the toxic substance as part of a wider program to construct dwellings through different construction techniques.

Many pre-1985 houses in Canberra contained asbestos, but few were built entirely of the substance.

Asbestos cement with a core of insulation material made up the inside and outside of the walls.

The design of the houses meant renovations or maintenance could not be conducted without risking the release of deadly fibres.

The Kambah properties were originally used for public housing, then sold to private buyers in the 1990s.

Many of the residents only found out about the material used to build their homes in 2014 as the Mr Fluffy campaign ramped up across Canberra.

In October of that year, then chief minister Katy Gallagher said the owners of the houses would receive a “similar outcome” to Mr Fluffy homeowners, but through a different process.

The owners had accepted ACT government offers to buy the properties by September 2015.

One of the properties was sold for $406,000, including $1000 for legal costs.

A Land Development Agency spokeswoman confirmed the properties were demolished last year.

The land was sold directly to Community Housing Canberra at market value this month.

A development application was expected to be lodged in the coming months.

The proposed development would not include public housing, but all would be affordable rental tenancies for people such as trade apprentices, women in crisis and people living with disabilities.

Construction manager Lindsay Hunter said increasing the available stock of rental tenancies was part of CHC’s statement of intent.

“These blocks are ideal for that; they’re in established suburbs so they’re ideal for development for our growing clientele,” he said.

Mr Lindsay said there was already development approval for the three freestanding houses and they would go to tender next month.

He said he hoped to have them constructed by January or February next year, with the two-house block expected to be completed shortly after that.

A development application for the smaller houses on the other two blocks was expected to be submitted within the next month.

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