Redfern build to rent project

19 June 2020 | Posted In: News

Council will consider the rezoning of the site proposed for Land and Housing Corporation’s (LAHC) Redfern Build to Rent project Monday afternoon, 22 June 2020 at the Transport, Heritage and Planning Committee before it goes before the full Council on 29 June 2020. The documents presented to Council are all prepared by Council and reflect Council’s assessment of the proposal LAHC submitted.

LAHC’s submitted proposal and its many listed support studies are not publicly available in the papers supplied to Council. The proposal and studies will only become accessible during the formal exhibition of the proposal after the Department of Planning approves it. Council is proposing the minimum 28 days for this exhibition. This leaves little time for the community to assess the many studies and make informed input on the planning proposal.

The material available to the Council, under the heading Planning Proposal for 600-660 Elizabeth Street, Redfern – Sydney Local Environmental Plan 2012 Amendment and Draft Design Guide, includes:

The Report from Council Officers to Council — this contains the recommendations and motions for Council.

Attachment A – Planning Proposal 600-660 Elizabeth Street, Redfern — this is the Planning Proposal that is proposed to be exhibited.

Attachment B – Draft Design Guide — the Council report says this is “to help ensure the objectives and intended outcomes of this planning proposal are achieved without the need for a Stage 1 DA. The draft Design Guide creates site-specific provisions relating to the built form of the proposed development, design excellence, amenity requirements and sustainability.”

The proposal includes that affordable housing should make up 10 percent of the 351 apartments proposed, which is up from the five percent LAHC was initially suggesting. This increase is welcomed. Of some concern is that Council notes the proposal says that 30 percent of the development will be social housing — but it does not try to put a minimum on social housing. This raises the concern that the increase in affordable housing may come at the expense of the social housing.

One of the major concerns has been the provision of community facilities in this development as there are no significant community facilities currently servicing the Redfern public housing estate. Currently, the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) provide some services through Redlink into Redfern from its small space on the estate, but there is a question mark over how long the DCJ will continue this expensive intervention and a similar model in Surry Hills. The Poet’s Corner meeting room where activities are held is very small.

It is pleasing that one of the two planning options for the site includes a community facility. It is of concern, though, that the community facility is linked only to the Police and Community Youth Club (PCYC) and if LAHC provides PCYC with alternative premises away from the development the alternate planning option — without a community facility — will be approved. REDWatch has argued there is a need for a community centre within easy access to Redfern public housing. That need remains irrespective of the final location of PCYC.

The original proposal and its support documents not being available at this stage of the Council process makes assessing what is being proposed by LAHC and Council difficult. For example, to know what material might or might not have been considered by LAHC and Council regarding the need for community facilities in Redfern.

This problem will become that much more acute with the Waterloo South proposal where there are rumoured to be 10,000 pages of reports. Some of those reports specifically deal with areas such as community facilities and social sustainability. These areas are part of the human service plan discussions, but they will remain hidden from the community until public exhibition next year.

The Redfern LAHC proposal is a dry run for Waterloo South as it will follow the same council process.

Geoff Turnbull — REDWatch co-spokesperson