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Waterloo South – for the local community?

WATERLOO: Last month, the NSW government’s redevelopment proposal for Waterloo South was placed on exhibition (until April 29).

Since the redevelopment was first announced in December 2015 the process has been slow and frequently disrupted, leaving tenants hurt, confused, sceptical and exhausted. Despite “relocations” being a priority concern for tenants there is still no Waterloo-specific relocation policy. Community Development Project Officer with Counterpoint Community Services, Adam Antonelli, finds this “very disappointing”.

Thanks to input from the City of Sydney as well as community groups, the revised plan sees fewer towers and more mid-rise dwellings than initially proposed. Efforts will be made to retain significant trees and to increase the overall tree canopy.

Still, planning approval would see a vastly denser precinct of over 3,000 dwellings on (current) public land with 7.5 per cent affordable rental dwellings.

Counterpoint has helped organise three workshops to facilitate community submissions. Geoff Turnbull, co-spokesperson for REDWatch, led a workshop on the history of the redevelopment. A second workshop unpacked the current proposal. And on April 5, Shelter NSW led a workshop on community mobilisation.

“It’s good to have the help of the experts,” Mr Antonelli says. “Bruce Judd, David Lilley and students from UNSW are assisting residents, many without easy access to digital technology, to make submissions. It’s important to get as many responses as possible, and that submissions touch on technicalities that need to be addressed.

“Selling public land is only justified on the grounds of a corresponding public good. Selling prime real estate to quadruple the density for a renewed housing stock and incremental increase in social housing with some affordable housing does not provide that return.

“The government’s Communities Plus model, whereby public housing estates are sold off to deliver a ratio of 70 per cent market housing and 30 per cent social housing, underpins the Waterloo redevelopment. The policy should be scrutinised as there is little evidence to suggest this is the ‘sweet spot’ for social mix.

“In fact, the proposal does not meet this target with just 28.2 per cent social housing dwellings or 26.5 per cent of the residential floor space being social housing.

“And the new housing minister seems to be focused on density, with no attention to the importance of community and sustainability. The Waterloo community deserves better.

“Council’s analysis is that the government’s proposal is 10 per cent larger than Council’s own recommendations.”

Readers are advised to go to the Waterloo South Exhibition tab on the REDWatch website for more information (https://bit.ly/36ZJrAG).

Representatives from the government’s Department of Planning and Environment will attend Autumn On the Green, Friday April 8, 1-5pm, to answer questions and receive feedback on the Waterloo South proposal.

Adam Antonelli can be contacted at Counterpoint Community Services, 67 Raglan St, Waterloo. Phone 9698 9569, email a.antonelli@counterpointcs.org.au/.

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