The City of Sydney voted in October to provide WPHAG with $50,000 to assist its planning and advocacy activities in Waterloo.
Labor Cnr Linda Scott, who moved the motion, said of the Future Planning Centre’s activities: “I’m so pleased to see [the community] coming together to plan their own future, with the support of students and volunteer professionals … The community needs to have a voice in the contentious redevelopment process of the Waterloo public housing estate being undertaken by the Liberal NSW state government.”
Architect Genevieve Murray, who had been working closely with WPHAG, believes the government will have to back down on its ambitious density targets. “We’ve already modelled the proposed density of the site – 770 people per hectare – which is equivalent to Hong Kong,” says Murray, “[and] what we’ve actually found is that they can’t meet any of the state planning legislation for residential development. That sort of density doesn’t comply.”
“Visioning” workshops – where tenants are asked to communicate their ideas for the future of Waterloo – are now underway in November, having been first slated for July. WPHAG has joined many in the community in welcoming the longer timeframe for discussion and capacity building but remain critical of the single month allotted to “visioning” workshops.
Chairperson of WPHAG Richard Weeks recommends all tenants take advantage of the platform provided by the workshops.
Eager to have genuine engagement from the government, WPHAG is pushing to have the “visioning” process extended from one to three months to make sure the process has chance to gain traction within the community.
The group is also in the process of negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with LAHC about how WPHAG will input into the Master Plan and the role of academics assisting the group. Many tenants still view the community engagement process as a farce.