New planning proposal for Waterloo

22 June 2020 | Posted In: #135 Winter 2020,

Following extensive community and stakeholder consultation, plans for the redevelopment of the Waterloo Estate have been amended. GEOFF TURNBULL walks us through the new bid.

For planning purposes, the NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) has divided the Waterloo Estate into three precincts: Waterloo North — this area includes Marton, Turanga, Matavi and Solander; Waterloo Central — which includes Banks, Cook and shops; and Waterloo South — all the walk-ups and the mid-rise within the redevelopment area. LAHC has now lodged a rezoning plan for Waterloo South with the City of Sydney. Nothing has been lodged for the north and central precincts as they are not being developed for another 13-18 years.

The lodged proposal covers 12.32 hectares, or 65 percent of the total site. This area includes 749 existing public housing units, consisting of all the walk-ups and the mid-rises within the estate. The area covered by the rezoning application also includes 125 privately owned dwellings and commercial properties.

The key feature of Waterloo South is the delivery of two promised parks, including a central park adjacent to the new metro station. Open space has increased by 4,000m2 over the earlier plan to 2.57ha. This amended proposal also includes wider tree-lined streets and expanded bike paths. Altogether, the lodged plan delivers 3,000 dwellings in Waterloo South plus the park, space for businesses, shops, and community facilities. Social housing will make up 30 percent (or 900 units) of the redevelopment; 70 percent is private and affordable housing, but no information about how many affordable housing units might be provided is revealed.

LAHC says it has cut the maximum building heights from 40 to 32 storeys. This compares with council’s suggested 13 storeys. Where the earlier preferred master plan aimed for 6,800 dwellings across the entire estate, according to a report in The Sunday Telegraph, the new plan is for 6,200. In a media release, Water, Property and Housing Minister Melinda Pavey said, “The proposal will include an additional 100 new social housing dwellings in the area.” However, it is not clear if this refers to only the southern area where there will be an increase of 151 social housing units or if this sets an estate-wide target increase to 2,112.

An artist impression of the new park shows the existing high-rises in the background. Before any redevelopment of the towers, there would be 2,163 social housing units — the 900 in Waterloo South and 1,263 in the existing high-rises. Thirty percent of the proposed 6,200 would only deliver 1,860 social housing units. What happens with the towers is still to be determined, so we really don’t know  the final number of social, affordable or private units that the estate might deliver or when we might have all the Waterloo jigsaw pieces in front of us so that we are able to see the whole picture.

So what happens next? The LAHC Waterloo South application is being assessed by council to determine if it has planning merit or if any other changes are needed. Following assessment, City of Sydney staff will prepare a planning proposal for consideration by council and the Central Sydney Planning Committee. The community will only see the detail of the proposal — with its rumoured 10,000 pages of reports — when it is presented to a council committee in several months’ time.

If supported, council will seek a gateway determination from the NSW Government for public consultation. That is when the Waterloo community can have its say. According to material posted on its website, the City of Sydney will lead the community engagement during the public consultation period for the Waterloo South planning proposal and will continue to work collaboratively with the Department of Communities and Justice to support social housing tenants.