Kensington Redevelopment

Kensington Housing Estate Redevelopment sculpture

The Kensington Estate Redevelopment project has transformed an ageing 1960s public housing estate into a mixed community of public, social and private housing with a unique approach to community development.

Kensington Housing Estate Redevelopment communal open spaceThe project has set a benchmark for mixed developments of public and private housing and has resulted in:

  • new public housing integrated with private housing
  • the site being re-integrated into the local Kensington area
  • newly landscaped open space, recreation areas and a children’s playground
  • homes in the high-rise towers being upgraded.

A holistic approach to community has been taken at Kensington with:

  • a Community Liaison Committee in place during the redevelopment to involve the local community
  • community building activities for residents focusing on skills and employment.

Image caption: The new homes in the Kensington Estate Redevelopment are set around landscaped communal open space.


During the 1950s and early 1960s three high-rise towers and 15 blocks of walk-up flats were built on Kensington estate, providing 850 affordable homes for low income Victorians.

Recognising the need to improve the area, the Victorian Government committed to redevelop the former Kensington estate and in 2001 Becton Group Holdings was selected to redevelop the housing.

The redevelopment was completed in ten stages between 2002 and 2012 and has resulted in:

  • over 200 new public homes
  • 220 renovated public homes
  • 490 new private homes
  • 15 social housing properties.

Key features

The physical boundaries of the former estate have been removed and new townhouses and apartments complement the design of the surrounding neighbourhood. This is achieved by:

  • the use of a variety of materials, textures and colour schemes that make the redevelopment look like any new residential development in Australia
  • creating better pedestrian links by designing and building paths that fit into the existing pedestrian network to further integrate the homes into the local area
  • removing the fences that bordered the former estate to break down the physical barriers that existed between the former estate and the wider Kensington neighbourhood
  • new quality housing where the public and social housing is indistinguishable from the private housing
  • building new seating, a barbeque area and children’s playground to provide recreation points for residents and the local community.

The new homes have been built:

  • with either a balcony or terrace to provide private open space
  • to maximise access to northern light
  • to ensure minimal overshadowing of neighbouring private open spaces.

Kensington Housing Estate Redevelopment sculpture

The new homes achieve a minimum 5-star energy rating, with many achieving much higher ratings with such features as:

  • roof-top solar hot water panel boosters
  • roof-top water retention tanks for toilet flushing and garden watering
  • large thermal mass created by a multi-storey development
  • protection from summer sun via balcony blade walls, window shading and landscaping
  • bicycle parking for residents and visitors.

Image caption: Homes at the Kensington redevelopment have their own balcony or courtyard and access to public open space.

Upgrades to existing homes

The two high-rise buildings that remain have been renovated providing each home with:
  • a new kitchen
  • new bathroom
  • new paint and carpet
  • improved security and environmental efficiency.

A holistic approach to redevelopment

The redevelopment has also considered what would make the area a genuinely good place to live, beyond building new housing.

When the redevelopment began the Department of Human Services and Becton established the Kensington Management Company, a not-for-profit organisation that would work to make the redevelopment area a place:

  • that people are proud of and want to live in
  • where residents can participate in the community
  • that provides access to opportunities.

In 2007 the Kensington Management Company was renamed Urban Communities Limited and established as an independent not-for-profit organisation.

BBQ area with some of the new housing at Kensington Housing Estate RedevelopmentUrban Communities Limited: providing community management and opportunity

Urban Communities Limited (UCL) is a not-for-profit housing agency which manages:

  • public housing on behalf of the Department of Human Services
  • private rentals on request by owners
  • owner’s corporations
  • a private housing maintenance fund.

Urban Communities Limited maintains:

  • the public housing common areas
  • all the community spaces on the estate.

Urban Communities Limited also has responsibility for community development across the estate and have channelled more than $2 million into:

  • training and employment grants into the local Kensington community
  • creating training, jobs and work experience placements for over 80 public housing residents.

Cleaning and maintenance work on all buildings at Kensington is carried out by an accredited training provider on the condition that they train and offer work placements to 12 local residents at any one time and 40 residents over a two year period.

Urban Communities has established a new cafe and catering social enterprise located at the base of the high rise building in Derby Street. The enterprise aims to create 33 jobs and training opportunities and 72 work experience placements.

Image caption: The barbecue area with some of the new housing in the background.

Children's playground at Kensington Estage RedevelopmentCommunity participation

A Community Liaison Committee (CLC) was also established to ensure that the views and issues of current and future residents are represented and addressed.

The Kensington CLC included representation from:

  • the Kensington Housing Estate and local residents
  • local businesses
  • local schools
  • Melbourne City Council
  • not-for-profit organisations
  • the Department of Human Services.

Throughout the redevelopment the Kensington CLC and the wider community were consulted during the planning and approval stages. Ideas generated within the CLC have resulted in good provision of open space and homes accessible for disabled persons.

Image caption: New children's playground on the Kensington Housing Estate.

  • Urban Communities

    Urban Communities has a unique responsibility for all business services in the area. All business areas work together and are guided by overarching community building principles.

  • Kensington Community Liasion Committee

    The Kensington Community Liaison Committee was established to advise the government and Becton on the redevelopment. Its 40 members include public housing residents, community agencies, local government, neighbouring residents, local traders and businesses, who all bring specific local expertise and ideas to the project.

  • Kensington Community Liasion Committee Memorandum Understanding (PDF 31.5 KB)

    Memorandum of understanding between the Keningson Community Liason Committee and the Executive Director of Housing and Community Development relating to the design and construction phases of the Kensington redevelopment.

  • Kensington Social Impact Final Report (PDF 1.7 MB)

    Social impact report into the Kensington redevelopment project prepared by Swinburne Institute for Social Research.

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