Revised plans for the Waterloo South redevelopment have been approved by NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes. Responding to the revisions, Lord Mayor Clover Moore said: “This is a step in the right direction. We will continue to work closely with the state government to ensure more social and affordable housing is part of the mix.”
The plans were revised in an effort to break a deadlock between the City of Sydney and the Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) over the scale of the development. Originally, LAHC proposed height and density even greater than existing developments in the CBD. Also, the gradient of the roads failed to meet accessibility requirements for people with disabilities to access the Waterloo Metro station. LAHC’s plans also did not include enough adequate walkways, green space or trees.
The revised plans — due to go on public exhibition later this year — will allocate almost 30 percent (847 dwellings) to social housing, including public housing and affordable housing for low-income earners. Currently, there are about 749 social housing units in Waterloo South, meaning the revised proposal would add 98 social housing properties to the 12-hectare section of the estate. However, the City and LAHC had been pushing for more than 900 social housing units at the Waterloo South site.
Also, the City’s proposal to require 20 percent of all dwellings to be affordable rental housing was soundly rejected by the independent advisory group (and therefore the Department of Planning) as being “financially unfeasible’’. “The demand for social and affordable housing in the city has never been greater,” said Moore, “and given the projected health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19, we know that is likely to increase. The redevelopment of Waterloo South must deliver more social and affordable housing, permanently.”
In a statement, Waterloo-based community organisation Counterpoint welcomed the conclusion of this stage of the Waterloo South redevelopment process. However, executive officer Michael Mackenzie Shreenan expressed frustration and anger at the lack of respect for the community. Counterpoint had asked for a community briefing before media releases were issued — this request was not honoured. Instead, a small number of NGOs and community group representatives were given a briefing one hour before the media release. “The insensitive timing in the context of the recent stay-at-home orders is just another slap on the face for the existing social housing community,” said the statement.
No changes to the revised plans can be made until the public exhibition. The time leading up to the exhibition is an opportunity for the local community to digest the plans and Counterpoint is committed to supporting the community through this time. Residents are reminded that the plans have not yet been approved and it is highly unlikely there will be any relocations happening within the next year. All tenants will receive six months notice.
For more details visit the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.