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You are here: Home / UrbanGrowth, SMDA & RWA Plans & Activities / Waterloo Public Housing & Metro Station Redevelopment / Waterloo South rezoning proposal / Groundswell Local agency input to Independent Advisory Group on Waterloo South Planning Proposal

Groundswell Local agency input to Independent Advisory Group on Waterloo South Planning Proposal

On 8 April 2021 11am local Groundswell agency representatives (Geoff Turnbull REDWatch, Claire McAteer ISV and Michael Mackenzie Shreenan Counterpoint) met online with the Waterloo South Independent Advisory Group (IAG) regarding Waterloo South. The agencies also responded to requests from the IAG regarding the consultation timeline for previous engagement on the Waterloo Visioning, Options, Preferred Master Plan prior to the Council proposal and LAHC's decision to only progress the southern precinct. Some Groundswell agencies also supplied written submissions to the IAG. On 8 April the IAG had separate 25 minute meetings with representatives from Groundswell, The NAB's Waterloo Redevelopment Group, The Waterloo Public Housing Action Group and representatives from the Aboriginal community. Below are the talking Points that the local Groundswell agencies managed to fit into its 8 minute presentation to the IAG.

We note that part of the IAG’s scope is to identify site-specific issues and so we want to start with

We note that part of the IAG’s scope is to identify site-specific issues and so we want to start with

The Social Context

  • One of the main ones from our perspective is that unlike most rezonings a lot of people live on the Estate and are impacted by announcements and decisions. This is the largest public housing estate in NSW and it has a very diverse existing community making this a very different development to any other.
  • There have been different plans to redevelop the estate over the last two decades and this current process is in its 6th year!
  • Tenant input into current planning was into earlier consultations about plans for the whole of the estate - and not into the current plan which is different due to trade-offs between LAHC and CoS that have lost elements tenants said they wanted.
  • Tenants did not see what LAHC submitted until the CoS proposal went through Council.
  • Council has also changed what they previously told tenants was appropriate for the site and the current proposal has more density stacked on it, less open space and less gross floor area than LAHCs.
  • The City has not consulted with tenants over its proposal and presentations made by them have not always been seen as being fair comparisons.
  • There is consultation fatigue and many misunderstandings after many plans
  • NGOs were initially funded to support tenants through community development, capacity building, aboriginal liaison and bi-lingual workers. As the process dragged on, LAHC withdrew this support and an information vacuum has resulted.
  • There is concern that a human service plan is not in place to deal with existing, let alone future support needs and that the Social Sustainability Study deals primarily with community facilities for the new community rather than replacement of the poor facilities for agencies servicing the public housing community.
  • The location of the Council community Centre in the shadows near the small park rather than it being in the centre of the proposed development has raised concerns from both NGOs and tenants.
  • We have Concern that LAHC’s Social Sustainability & demographic studies as they do not adequately deal with NSW government changes in allocation policy and its impact on the social housing component of the future development.
  • This study also does not deal with the immediate impacts of the proposed redevelopment on the community and pushes items seen as essential for success to the tendering phase where we have concerns they will not be dealt with adequately.
  • We support the introduction of Social Impact Assessments, with the ability to propose Social Impact Management Plans (SIMPs) to manage ongoing and unforeseen social impacts in the redevelopment of public housing estates. Council has requested SIAs recently on smaller LAHC redevelopments and we encourage DPIE to consider commissioning a Waterloo SIA and consequent Social Impact Management Plans independent of the proponent. This could happen in parallel with exhibition and inform the final planning proposal and the management of the redevelopment.


On Built Environment

  • We are concerned that the density proposed may not be appropriate for a future social housing cohort with high and complex needs.
  • We are concerned that overall the density resultant from the imperatives driving LAHC redevelopment may not be delivering a good outcome for future social housing tenants.
  • Having said that there is also a possibility that LAHC’s mix of taller and lower buildings may create better housing outcomes than Councils proposal. DPIE should test this.
  • To match LAHC density Council needed to reduce open space and gross floor area and include high-rise buildings and higher mid-rise building above what Council earlier said was the appropriate density.
  • The impact of the increase in density in the Council proposal needs to be properly tested along with an assessment of if its urban design methodology works at the final density.
  • Some tenants like high-rise buildings some do not. Some tenants would like to live in the same building as private owners and renters and others do not. LAHC has misrepresented tenant’s responses on this issue in its consultation report.
  • Some social housing tenants have to be placed at ground floor level and this creates challenges with higher density.


Tenure Mix

  • Ideally, we do not support the sale of public housing land to renew housing stock. Governments should be investing in social housing renewal or build to rent schemes where the under-lying land is retained or returns to the state.
  • LAHC’s 30:70 policy puts a strait jacket around their developments. Inner City land can often handle more. Early LAHC statements indicated Waterloo could take up to 10% affordable housing as well as 30% social housing.
  • There are good reasons to have affordable housing in the redevelopment to allow for transition from social to affordable housing and potentially to provide a safety net in the case of a relapse in an underlying condition.
  • External support from Government could lift the quantity of social and affordable housing yield on the site. In some smaller inner city public housing developments, the social / affordable housing yield has been greater.
  • We support the call for 10% Aboriginal affordable housing in this development, given the areas significance to the Aboriginal community. We note the council proposal is under this figure.
  • We support Aboriginal affordable housing being funded on a whole of government basis rather than by LAHC. We encourage the IAG to support this as a recommendation.



  • There is a large diverse community already living in the site to be rezoned with low digital access. The standard DPIE consultation process will need to be significantly modified if tenants on the estate are going to have a real say in the consultation. We have spent a lot of time with LAHC and Council on trying to help them understand these complexities.
  • DPIE should be requested to work with NGOs in formulating engagement processes around the exhibition design and delivery.
  • Depending on the proposal put out to consultation someone will need to explain it to tenants. LAHC or Council will probably be happy to speak to their plans if they were successful, if DPIE puts up a third option the DPIE will need to explain that to the community and be able to respond to questions raised by Council and LAHC about the proposal and supporting documents.