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REDWatch Guide to Waterloo South Study planning proposal documents

The Waterloo South planning proposal documents are complex because they contain documents relating to the original LAHC proposal, Council’s proposal, the Gateway determination and then the subsequent additional studies produced by the Planning Proposal Authority that was not Council. They are also complex because the Planning Proposal does not contain all the necessary information in one place and finding the correct information is not straightforward. This document tries to provide guidance through these documents so the reader can find the information they are looking for as easily as possible.

Background Timeline to exhibition documents

May 2020 – Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) submitted their Planning Proposal (PP) for Waterloo (South) to Council (This PP is not currently shown on exhibition website)

February 2021 – Council endorsed a Planning Proposal prepared by it for Waterloo South) (This PP is not currently shown on exhibition website)

February 2021 – Minister requests deadlock between Council and LAHC over infrastructure delivery

March 2021 – With deadlock unresolved Minister removes Council as the Planning Proposal Authority (PPA) and appoints the Planning Secretary as the PPA. This is then delegated to the Group Deputy Secretary as the Planning Secretary is also responsible for LAHC and Gateway section of the Department.

April 2021 – The PPA submits the Council Planning Proposal for Gateway Determination

Minister appoints an Independent Advisory Group (IAG) to advise on the Gateway

June 2021 – Gateway determination issued requiring further work by PPA before exhibition

January 2022 – PPA requests and is granted changes to the Gateway Determination

March 2022 - Exhibition of a higher density proposal that that produced by Council

May June – PPA assesses consultation input and adjusts planning proposal to accommodate feedback

June July – Gateway assess Planning Proposal, make any changes and Finalise planning controls. New Planning controls are then published.

Why is this Background important to looking at the exhibition documents?

The history of this planning proposal is important because many of the studies relate to either LAHC’s original proposal or Councils. The gateway determination asked for further work on some studies to bring them up to date to address the issues identified by the gateway determination.

The original Council and LAHC proposals that the studies relate to are no longer shown on the Planning Proposal DPE exhibition site as they are not on exhibition and may cause confusion during the exhibition. They were on the site for the initial Gateway process but have been removed.

In this exhibition some of the studies do need to be accessed because the main Planning Proposal document does not summarise all the information necessary to understand the exhibited planning proposal. The problem is finding the correct information. In some cases the final material in the design study may have been changed in the planning proposal and or in the LEP maps. 

Density Increase

It did not become known in the community until a month into the exhibition that the DPE proposal was of higher density than the Council one on which it had been based. DPE used the same figure for the number of units as Council - 3012. However in the Council proposal the 3012 dwellings includes the 10% allowance for design excellence where as in the DPE proposal this 10% is added on and the 3012 is the minimum number of units. As all blocks for private social or affordable housing have to be assessed for design excellence, if the 10% bonus was achieved on all blocks the total number of dwellings delivered is likely to be between 3300 and 3400. The community was being given a starting point not a realistic expectation of what was possible under the proposed controls.

Floor Space Ratios (FSR)s

For example the Planning Proposal does not contain a map showing the Floor Space Ration (FSR) allocated to each block. Only the floor space rations for private lots are set out in the text of the planning proposal with the LAHC higher FSRs missing. For the FSR information you need to reference the Gateway required study - Addendum to urban design report (Hassell) - Waterloo Estate (South) (page 135) and not the earlier Original supporting study - Urban Design Study - Waterloo Estate (South) which as prepared based on the LAHC original study. The proposed FSRs are also found in the draft LEP maps which is a large and difficult Cadastre map file. The FSRs on the map are before the 10% design excellence bonus if achieved.

Shadow Diagrams and Solar Access

The Planning Proposal document also contains no shadow diagrams showing how and when the layout proposed gets sunshine. For that you have to go to Appendix B of Gateway required study - Addendum to urban design report (Hassell) - Waterloo Estate (South) on page 201 where Hassell has prepared them but they have not been used elsewhere.

Shadow diagrams are important but where everything is similar height in high density, like this proposal, the solar access diagrams are probably more important. A residential unit only has to get  two hours sun in a day so seeing what areas get how much sun gives you one guide to how homes and public spaces will be impacted by the development. The solar access diagrams are in the Urban Design Addendum (pages 97-126) but only one of these relates to the planning proposal on exhibition - it is titled Amended Option - Preferred direction on page 114. None of the maps in the urban design report for solar access to streets, open spaces, communal open space or deep soil zones that showing how many hours of sunlight different areas get for the preferred plan receives have been done for the exhibited proposal. There is a separate section on the solar impact of the forth tower in section 4.7 pages 123-126. 

Land Use Zoning and proposed LEP Changes

The planning controls that a developer will start with, alongside the design guide are in the large Cadastre file that will be difficult for most people to access. It is the only other place you will see the draft FSR map. For each of the draft controls to go into the City of Sydney Local environment Plan there are two pages because the join between two of the pages runs through the north western tip of Waterloo South. REDWatch has created an Easy Access Waterloo South LEP from the sheets in the draft maps covering the bulk of the estate. The only major omission is that the active street frontage on Wellington Street continues around the corner into Cope Street.

REDWatch has also extracted from the City of Sydney LEP the definitions for the proposed Land Use Zones Proposed for Waterloo South as this information has not been provided in the Planning Proposal. We have included in this post the Active Street Frontages LEP map and the LEP Restricted retail development map designed to stop large retail going into the area which has been given a business zoning rather than its existing residential.

LEP Maximum Heights, Control Plan Heights and Consultation Heights

in the REDWatch article on Building heights in the Waterloo South Planning Proposal, we have tried to unpack this issue. In short the LEP Height controls are different from the finer grain height in storeys proposed in the design guide which sits under the LEP in importance. The height in storeys map acts like a reference scheme showing one possible outcome of the LEP controls not the actual planning controls. For the consultation a simplified map has been introduced which shows high, medium and low rise. It is important also to understand that not all design guide final maps have been used in the LEP controls or the Planning proposal document. In one case the Planning Proposal document and the draft LEP controls do not agree. Please note that Council has questioned if the bonus floorspace will fit into the proposal building envelopes. If this extra floor space does not fit it may lead to pressure to increase heights to accommodate the extra floorspace or lead to building that are bulkier and impact solar access.

Council LAHC Draft Agreement on Infrastructure Payments

In the timeline above Council lost their role in the planning process due to not being able to agree on the works that would be undertaken with LAHC. There is now a Draft Infrastructure Schedule - Waterloo Estate (South) CoS & LAHC March 2022 that addresses areas needing to be agreed between LAHC and Council that will form a binding Voluntary Planning Agreement with LAHC. This is not part of the planning controls and it will exhibited separately but it will answer some questions about who pays and has responsibility for what. It covers what happens for land and its embellishment for new roads, public open space and the community facilities to be built and handed to Council.

An important note in the draft agreement states that: “Cost estimates indicate the cost of providing the public infrastructure in this Schedule will exceed contributions payable to the City under its contribution plan, where it applies. In recognition that the open space and community facilities to be provided in Waterloo Estate (South) will provide for the whole of Waterloo Estate, it is the intent of the City and LAHC to reach agreement about the offset of future contributions payable to the City in conjunction in Waterloo Estate (North) and Waterloo Estate (Central)”.

The June 2021 Gateway Determination based on City of Sydney’s proposal

The Independent Advisory Group (IAG) report is important in the affordable housing discussion.

The January 2022 Change to the Gateway Determination

The Key Planning Proposal Documents for Exhibition

Given the complexity of the documents on exhibition as a rule of thumb look at material in the planning proposal and design guide first and then move to an addendum report if it exists and only to the original supporting study if no addendum report exists or if you need it to understand the addendum report. Below we have divided the studies in a way that reflects this rule of thumb.

Gateway required and additional studies (in order shown in Planning Proposal)

Original Supporting Studies for the original LAHC and Council proposals to Gateway not updated

Original Supporting Studies for the original LAHC and Council updated for Planning Proposal

The exhibition documents reference above can be found on the Waterloo South Exhibition site on the NSW Planning Portal

While REDWatch has prepared this list with care we can not guarantee that errors may not exist. If you find any problems with the links or anything problematic with this summary please let us know on