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Waterloo stalemate must not Continue - Minister Stokes

This is the text of the Media Statement Rob Stokes Minister for Planning and Public Spaces released on Twitter on Tuesday, 23 February 2021

The redevelopment of the Waterloo Estate is of enormous strategic importance to NSW and the Waterloo community, but the proposal is in limbo because of disagreement between the City of Sydney and Land and Housing  Corporation (LAHC).

I commend the City of Sydney and LAHC for bringing their respective visions for the Waterloo Estate (South) planning proposal more closely together, but it’s clear that agreement is still a long way off.

This project won't just bring forward vital economic stimulus, but will also provide important social housing for the most vulnerable in our community.

The resolution from the City of Sydney at Monday night's meeting means the proposal won’t be forwarded to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) for gateway determination straight away. This is a further delay to the project that will only prolong the stalemate.

I have written to the Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey and Lord Mayor Clover Moore asking that LAHC and the City work together to break the deadlock and find a solution by Friday 12 March.

If the City and LAHC cannot break the deadlock I will appoint the DPIE Secretary as the alternate planning proposal authority, with advice from a panel of three independent experts to assess this project within 10weeks.

The disagreements been the City and LAHC relate to the scale of the development and funding for infrastructure.

If I'm forced to appoint the Secretary to take on Council’s role in progressing the planning proposal, I will ensure there is advice from the independent panel, which will be made up of independent experts in economics. development feasibility, strategic planning and urban design.

This is one of the state's largest urban renewal projects ,which involves a generational redevelopment of our public housing estates, close to the Government's historic investment in Sydney Metro. The time is now for us to make progress on the Waterloo proposal, and it's important we get on with the job of renewing public housing, capitalising on infrastructure investment, and creating great places.

Source: Minister Stokes media release.

Following the media statement some more information came out via the Sydney Morning Herald in the following article.

Minister says housing agency ‘mistaken’ if they think he’ll do their bidding for Waterloo

NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes says the City of Sydney’s plan to redevelop the Waterloo public housing estate is superior to the one originally put forward by the state government agency overseeing it and the latter is mistaken if they believe they will get what they want.

But he also said the council failed to reach a conclusion in a dispute with Land and Housing Corporation – the authority responsible for social housing – over the scale of the development, after warning on Tuesday he would intervene if a deadlock wasn’t resolved within weeks.

 “The plan that the city have gone with is much better than the one that was originally put forward by LAHC, so having this process of mediation and discussion has produced a much better outcome, but it’s still not an outcome which is acceptable to both of the parties,” Mr Stokes said.

The shape and density of the redevelopment has triggered debate between the council and state government since plans to demolish existing homes and rebuild the precinct with a mix of public, private and affordable housing were announced in 2015.

The council, which is responsible for assessing LAHC’s proposal, voted on Monday night to approve a revised plan of Waterloo South, comprising 3000 homes in medium-rise buildings and three towers.

That was instead of nine towers suggested by the corporation. The council’s plan also includes a wide central thoroughfare lined with trees and shops, new streets and two parks.

Mr Stokes has written to Housing Minister Melinda Pavey and Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore to demand that they work to break the deadlock by March 12. He warned he would ask Planning Department secretary Jim Betts to assess the project within 10 weeks if the two parties couldn’t reach an agreement.

“If we end up with a plan that no one’s going to deliver, then that’s not a plan at all. That’s a plan to do nothing, so clearly, and sometimes when there is planning failure, that’s when a government steps in to try and mediate it,” he said on Wednesday.

Mr Stokes didn’t want to reflect too much on the housing agency’s thinking, but said: “Maybe they thought ultimately, ‘you know, if we push our own way we’ll force the Planning Minister to step in and give us what we want’.”

“My message to LAHC is: no, that’s not what I intend to do.

“Certainly if LAHC believe that by me stepping in they’ll get exactly what they want, they are mistaken. Equally ... it’s incumbent on the city to get to a conclusion, and they’ve demonstrated that they can’t do that.”

Ms Moore said it was “unfortunate it has come to this” but she welcomed the intervention “to force LAHC to respond to the city’s amended planning proposal for Waterloo South”.

“I also welcome the Minister’s call for LAHC to focus its efforts on finding a solution with the city and provide the Department of Planning with its full costing analysis,” she said.

Source:Sydney Morning Herald article by Angus Thompson and Megan Gorrey February 25, 2021 Minister says housing agency ‘mistaken’ if they think he’ll do their bidding for Waterloo