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You are here: Home / UrbanGrowth, SMDA & RWA Plans & Activities / Waterloo Public Housing & Metro Station Redevelopment / Waterloo South rezoning proposal / REDWatch Letter to DPIE and other key Stakeholders regarding Waterloo South

REDWatch Letter to DPIE and other key Stakeholders regarding Waterloo South

Below is the text of a letter sent by REDWatch on 25 March 2021 to DPIE Secretary Jim Betts and key stakeholders regarding the Minister's decision that DPIE would take over control of the planning proposal for Waterloo South. The statement was sent to all the key stakeholders including the independent panel members. The letter sets out some of REDWatch's key concerns resulting from the decision.


To:     Jim Betts, Secretary, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment

         Marcus Ray, Deputy Secretary, Planning and Assessment

         Brett Whitworth, Deputy Secretary Greater Sydney, Place and Infrastructure

         Susan Holliday, Member Independent Advisory Group

         James Cain, Member Independent Advisory Group

         Geoffrey London, Member Independent Advisory Group

CC:    The Hon. Rob Stokes MP, Minister for Planning and Public Spaces

         The Hon. Melinda Pavey MP, Minister for Water, Property and Housing

         Councillor Clover Moore, Lord Mayor, City of Sydney


Dear Mr Betts and those addressed,

Re Waterloo South Planning Proposal Assessment and Consultation

REDWatch writes to raise concerns about the Waterloo South assessment process put in place by Minister Stokes and the subsequent exhibition of the planning proposal.

Planning Proposal Concerns

REDWatch is concerned at the lack of public housing expertise in the expert panel for what is primarily a public housing redevelopment. We request the panel and the assessment section of DPIE seek expert advice regarding the suitability of the planning proposals for the expected public housing makeup.

DPIE and the advisory panel need to assess, not only the financial viability of the project, but also assess if the density proposed is suitable for the 30% social housing cohort who will live in what is currently proposed as the densest part of the City of Sydney. To replace the existing social housing on an already dense estate under the Communities Plus 30:70 formula the density has to be pushed high to achieve replacement social housing levels. The question not asked is if the resulting density is too high for the community mix proposed.

LAHC’s own documents do not adequately disclose the changing mix of public housing nor do they detail the likely issues that those administering the social housing post development will need to work with given current allocation priorities and shorter-term leases.

The makeup of future public / social housing will be very different from the current make up. As the older public housing tenants die off, they are being replaced by people with often high and complex needs. Almost all allocations into Waterloo are priority allocations, meaning these tenants often have the greatest and often most complex needs. If not properly supported some of these can be disruptive to those around them and affect others right to quite enjoyment of their homes.

If this development is to succeed as a social housing development for priority tenants on the social housing waiting list the human service supports for people with complex needs must improve significantly. The current human services system does not adequately support these tenants and with much higher densities, there is concern that the situation will be even more problematic. REDWatch’s position is that we cannot support the planning proposal unless there is a human service plan that sits alongside it to address the people issues.

LAHC has funded DCJ to undertake a “Waterloo Human Services Collaborative” to explore how supports can be improved and better integrated to support people moving into public housing, coming from prison, homelessness and violent circumstances, alongside people with mental health, cognitive impairment and other issues. Previous attempts in Redfern-Waterloo to provide an integrated support system for tenants with complex needs have not been successful.

Success for social housing will also depend on LAHC delivering on the Elton Consulting essential recommendations in the Social Sustainability Report. This includes adequate community facilities both for the private community, but also for servicing the specific needs of public / social tenants, as well as ongoing funding for the delivery of community development and placemaking activities.

All these elements have to work seamlessly for a high-density social housing to work for the future make up of public / social housing. We have doubts this will happen and hence REDWatch thinks there is a high risk of future problems if social housing is in the highest density precinct in the City of Sydney.

Even though Council and LAHC have agreed on density, REDWatch requests that, DPIE assess the density proposed with a view to whether this density is suitable for the proposed 30% make up of public / social housing. We note the NSW Government Architect has raised some concerns about the proposed density at the CSPC meeting and that Council initially proposed a lower density before it felt it needed to match the yield proposed by LAHC.

We encourage the independent advisors and DPIE to seek expert advice on the provision of public housing including the current operation and trends in public housing. We also ask that DPIE and the independent advisors familiarise themselves with the Waterloo public housing estate and experience and aspirations of its tenants. One way this could happen is for the panel should meet with the Waterloo Redevelopment Group, which includes Waterloo estate public housing elected representatives.

Tenants noted that while this planning proposal is for the redevelopment of a public housing estate to deliver renewed public housing, that public / social housing was not mentioned in the DPIE announcement, nor was expertise in this field reflected in the expertise appointed to the committee.

We note that Sue Holliday has experience on a CHP board that administers some social housing. We note also that inner city estates are different from many of the public housing properties recently transferred to CHPs. Further, as previously stated, in Waterloo priority allocations are the norm changing the existing tenant makeup.

Aboriginal Affordable Housing

REDWatch supports the provision of more affordable housing as part of the Waterloo South planning proposal. In particular and would like to see the NSW government invest in social and affordable housing as infrastructure rather than requiring the sale of public housing land to renew stock.

REDWatch supports the Redfern Waterloo Aboriginal Affordable Housing Campaign’s call for 10% Aboriginal Affordable Housing on the redevelopment of all government-controlled lands in Redfern and Waterloo. REDWatch is of the view that the provision of Aboriginal affordable housing on LAHC sites should be funded more broadly by the NSW Government and not just self-funded by LAHC.

Public Housing Consultation

Community organisations and tenant representatives have spent much time with both LAHC and more recently with Council discussing how best to consult about the planning proposal on NSW’s largest public housing estate.

With a part of DPIE taking over the role of Council during the planning proposal exhibition, it is imperative that those responsible for the exhibition with DPIE sit down with local organisations and the tenants on the Waterloo Redevelopment Group and explore what is required to give tenants a genuine opportunity to comment on the Waterloo South planning proposal.

This is a planning proposal for this estate redevelopment has a large existing residential population and is thus different to most planning proposals. The usual public online exhibition, as seen recently for Waterloo Metro, is not appropriate for a community with low internet take up, low literacy and many speaking languages other than English. These people will be directly impacted by the outcome.

We urge DPIE and the expert panel to consider these matters during the assessment and in deciding the subsequent consultation on the Waterloo South planning proposal.

Yours sincerely,


Geoffrey Turnbull

REDWatch Co-Spokesperson

On behalf of REDWatch Inc

c/- PO Box 1567

Strawberry Hills NSW 2012                                           

Ph (02) 8004 1490 or 0418 457 392                                   




REDWatch is a residents and friends group covering Redfern Eveleigh Darlington and Waterloo (the same area originally covered by the Redfern Waterloo Authority). REDWatch monitors government activities in the area and seeks to ensure community involvement in all decisions made about the area. More details can be found at is a members of the Redfern Waterloo Groundswell Coalition and attends meeting of the tenants Waterloo Redevelopment Group.