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More trees and sunlight give Waterloo South four towers

The exhibition of the planning proposal for Waterloo promised in January has not occurred. Tenant and agency representatives who attended two Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) workshops in early December have a pretty good overview of what will be proposed. DPE asked attendees not to release the slides and details of the presentations. Instead DPE released a summary of the sessions with some questions and answers from the workshops. This article is based on those documents. The exhibited proposal may differ as it was not final in December and the summary blurs some details.

DPE has mainly adopted the City of Sydney’s scheme for Waterloo South with a number of significant changes to the proposed building heights and footprints to retain 24 additional trees and allow more sunlight into future homes, courtyards and streets.

Nine additional trees along McEvoy Street are retained with building layout changes. Trees on the corners of Wellington and Pitt Streets, Wellington and Gibson Streets and Gibson and Kellick Streets are also saved.

To meet the approximately 3,000 homes required in the Gateway conditions, there are changes to building locations and a tall building at the corner of Kellick and Gibson Streets is additional to the three towers in the City’s plan.

DPE said its consultant confirmed the feasibility of the plan, including up to 30 per cent social and 5-10 per cent affordable housing. None of the studies and assumptions are public. The 3,000 allows for a 10 per cent bonus for meeting design excellence through design competitions, as well as minimising wind impacts and noise.

The left turn in and left turn out intersection of Pitt at McEvoy Street remains. In response to concerns about Pitt Street becoming a rat run, DPE said the “planning proposal does not include changes to traffic outside the area”.

Bike paths are proposed along George and Wellington Streets, with West Street made wider and a footpath to allow people to walk from the dead end of Mead Street to McEvoy Street. The large park to the north of the site would be zoned public recreation – which also allows playgrounds or community facilities. There is still a smaller park to the south.

DPE has talked to local agencies and the Waterloo Redevelopment Group about how best to include face-to-face interaction with tenants during the public exhibition. If the exhibition period starts before the current Omicron Covid 19 surge subsides, DPE may push the face-to-face elements back to later in the exhibition. A physical model and copies of documents will be available on the estate.

DPE has had to manage a number of potential conflicts of interest in handling Waterloo South. The Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC), the proponent, was already part of DPE. Another part of DPE, that normally handles state significant DA exhibitions, is acting in the place of Council to do the studies and the exhibition. This work needs to be checked by yet another part of DPE that handles Gateway planning proposals and approves exhibitions.

In addition, Minister Stokes, who originally took the planning proposal from Council to give it to DPE, is no longer the planning minister; he went with Infrastructure, Cities and Active Transport into the Transport cluster. Stokes was replaced as Planning Minister by a returning Anthony Roberts who now also holds Melinda Pavey’s old Housing Minister’s responsibility that includes LAHC. Minister Roberts promoted the head of LAHC, Mike Cassell, to be his new head (Secretary) of DPE.

Geoff Turnbull is the Co-Spokesperson for REDWatch.


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