Masterplan released – what is next
On January 23 Social Housing Minister Pru Goward released the NSW government’s preferred masterplan for the redevelopment of the Waterloo estate. The redevelopment is part of the government’s Communities Plus program, which aims to deliver new and replacement social housing through partnerships with private developers and community housing providers. Waterloo is the program’s largest project.
Under the proposal, the estate on the 18 hectares of mostly government-owned land will be redeveloped to make way for a mix of private, social and affordable housing. The plan’s 6,800 new homes, including a number of proposed high-rises of up to 40 storeys, will more than triple Waterloo’s density, making it one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods in Sydney.
The masterplan also proposes: 30 per cent social, 5 per cent affordable and 65 per cent private housing; 60 per cent of all new buildings seven storeys or lower; three hectares of open space.
The redevelopment will be completed over a period of 15 to 20 years. There are no tenant relocations planned for 2019. Head to Communitiesplus website to view the full masterplan or pick up a copy of the Land and Housing Corporation’s brochure from the Waterloo Connect office. LAHC will also hold drop-in sessions and talk to community groups about the proposal.
Does the preferred masterplan get it right?
Further details are needed to analyse the preferred masterplan comprehensively. The masterplan does address some community concerns highlighted during consultation last year.
It has been confirmed that affordable housing on the Waterloo estate will be in perpetuity. This diverges from the plan for the Waterloo metro quarter, where affordable housing is proposed for a minimum of 10 years only.
It is also promising to see the community’s desire for diverse and accessible parks has been accounted for. The plan proposes a larger park, which could accommodate community events in the north of the estate and a smaller park in the south. The two green spaces will be joined by a 20- to 25-metre-wide pedestrian boulevard.
However, some concerns remain unanswered. The preferred plan has gone ahead with opening up a connection between Pitt and McEvoy streets, to the unease of residents who fear this will create a “rat run” through the estate. LAHC asserts the new connection will be necessary to alleviate congestion elsewhere on the estate.
Community feedback also highlighted the need for more affordable housing on the estate. The masterplan proposes only 5 per cent of the estate’s total housing to be affordable. There is no mention of dedicated Aboriginal affordable housing.
It is disappointing to see residents’ concerns about density and building heights not adequately addressed, with the masterplan containing six buildings between 32 and 40 storeys tall and nine between 20 and 32. It is, however, encouraging that the proposed 6,800 dwellings is towards the lower end of the options presented during consultation with 60 per cent of all buildings seven storeys or lower. Nonetheless, this will still mean a massive 7,500 units in total across the metro quarter and estate sites.
A common theme throughout the consultation was the desire to preserve the character of Waterloo. This sentiment was beautifully captured by one resident who said: “Make Waterloo about the people. All the amazing characters make this place.” Will the preferred masterplan preserve the character and diversity of Waterloo?
Remember, you can have your voice heard throughout the redevelopment, particularly in these final planning stages. Keep up to date. Ask for things big and small. Let government know how you feel. As REDWatch spokesperson Geoff Turnbull likes to put it, information is power.
Options testing consultation report available
The announcement of the preferred masterplan follows the release of the options testing consultation report earlier this month. Compiling community feedback on the three options for the Waterloo estate offered by LAHC as part of its masterplan development, the report, written by Elton Consulting, documents the outcomes of community consultations held in October and November.
It is pleasing to see that LAHC has responded to the community’s requests and released the report prior to the masterplan’s public exhibition phase planned for later this year. This will allow residents and other stakeholders to assess how their comments have been captured and the way in which the masterplan responds to this feedback.
The options testing consultation, as well as the prior visioning consultation, which you can find in the report’s appendix, focuses on five important themes: culture and community life; transport, streets and connections; housing and neighbourhood design; community facilities, services and shops; environment and open space.
The report was prepared to support LAHC’s rezoning application for the area.
The consultation comprised: 450 completed surveys; two community information days attracting 300 people; 17 focus groups and workshops involving 200 people; four community group consultations.
Counterpoint was present at all focus groups and community days as an impartial observer and participated in the NGO workshops. Comparing the report to our notes taken throughout the consultation, Elton and LAHC should be congratulated on their accurate documentation of the broad opinions of the community. You will find the report at communitiesplus.com.au/major-sites/waterloo.
What we know about relocations
Tenants living on the estate will not be evicted from their homes. Rather, tenants will be relocated to other social housing dwellings and LAHC has pledged to move residents within the surrounding area, where possible.
All current social housing residents will have the right to return to the Waterloo estate. The earliest that the first residents will need to be relocated is in 2020. Residents will also be given six months’ notice before relocation commences.
The redevelopment will happen in stages. Construction will begin in the south-west corner of the estate and residents living in the high-rises will not be relocated for at least another 10 years.
Counterpoint Community Services, Inner Sydney Voice, REDWatch, Groundswell and a range of other local organisations will continue to assist social housing tenants and the local community to keep the government accountable to its undertakings and to ensure transparency. Please don’t hesitate to approach Counterpoint and Inner Sydney Voice if you have any questions or concerns.
What happens next?
The Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) intends to lodge the preferred masterplan with the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) in the first quarter of 2019. Following a review period, the DPE will place the preferred masterplan on public exhibition. Once on exhibition, a range of detailed technical studies will be released. During the public exhibition, residents, stakeholders and the local community will be asked to provide their feedback via formal submissions to the DPE.
In the lead-up to the March state election there will likely be many comments made by candidates about Waterloo. Use the opportunity to see what the candidates think and know about the issues, mindful that during this time caretaker protocols will put limits on what the current government and its departments can say and do.
Prior to the masterplan going on public exhibition, LAHC will hold information sessions to inform residents of the masterplan, explain it in detail and answer questions. Presently, LAHC has indicated that this process will be informative rather than consultative. Therefore, it can be expected that the preferred masterplan as currently presented will be the final design going on public exhibition. Although this may be the case, those concerned should still make their comments known to LAHC so it has the option of making adjustments before it submits.
LAHC has not finalised dates for the information sessions but we can expect these to happen mid to late February. LAHC will be presenting the masterplan at the next REDWatch meeting at the Factory Community Centre at 6pm on Thursday, February 7.
In order to assist residents and the local community to understand the plan, what it means for them and what they can expect in the coming months, Counterpoint Community Services, Inner Sydney Voice and our fellow Groundswell agencies will be partnering to hold a series of events. Dates and topics are coming soon. You can expect workshops, expert presentations and plenty of opportunity for discussion.
If you would like to receive updates on the redevelopment, including information sessions and government announcements, or have any questions at all, contact the Waterloo Redevelopment Community Development Officer at Counterpoint Community Services on 9698 9569, extension 3 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.