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Safety Considerations in Waterloo South Planning Proposal

The following analysis has been provided by a safety consultant to help people to help people understand the safety and Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) issues raised by the Waterloo South Planning Proposal. IMPORTANT UPDATE - DPE advised the Waterloo Redevelopment Group on 20 April 2022 that they were commissioning a CPTED study on the proposal as part of their assessment.

General Safety observations:

  • in an area where the evidence has suggested that both crime rates (including violent crime) and perceptions of fear of crime have for many years been long standing issues it is hard to understand why there is no requirement for a separate technical report in relation to CPTED;
  • crime and safety issues are more or less absent from almost all the documentation;
  • none of the documentation references any strategic alignment with the City of Sydney’s Community Safety Action Plan;
  • while the documentation is very comprehensive it is very day centric, contains few images of the nightscape and the intended use of public spaces after dark - e.g. Urban Design and Public Domain Study Appendices Volume 2 Photomontages pages 564-571 but every other document is similar in terms of the absence of nocturnal images -fear of crime and safety after dark is and for a long time has been a key concern for local residents yet the issue is not worthy of mention amongst the thousands of pages of documentation.
  • overall the documentation pays token regard to urban safety and any technical analysis of CPTED which seems to be considered almost as an afterthought - for example the Urban Design and Public Domain Study Volume 2 devotes a single page to Safety (page 653) and 50 pages (594-644) with extensive analysis, multiple figures and diagrams devoted to Solar Access. Much of what is written on page 653 regarding Safety are simply generalised comments which could apply to any development anywhere - there is no genuine attempt to relate the information to the development.

CPTED Specific observations:

  • the key document relating to CPTED is the (listed under Other) Gateway required study Addendum to Urban Design Report (Hassall) Waterloo Estate South - the report itself is headed Urban Design Review Waterloo Estate South - February 2022 - Hassell Consultants;
  • On page 3 of this report it states "Hassell has been engaged by DPIE to undertake a 'broad and holistic' urban design review of the Waterloo Estate (South) Planning Proposal prepared by the City of Sydney" "The project brief requires the review to include (amongst other things) "Whether Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles have been integrated into the planning proposal.”
  • *at 3.5 under Observations on page 35 CPTED principles are identified as a key theme
  • in this section (3) each theme is given two pages summarising key issues linked to the development - CPTED is mentioned on pages 59-60 with broad references to sightless, access, visibility, attractiveness, mid-block links and courtyard security - CPTED is not mentioned in the summary of observations at the end of this chapter;
  • section 4 of this report relates to Technical Analysis of the Planning Proposal - this is where, given the brief, we would expect some detailed analysis of specific parts of the development and how CPTED principles have been considered with respect to specific types of crime and how the design proposal mitigates against these issues in specific locations - it might also consider the social environment in terms of how the development will encourage social interaction in private (communal spaces) and public spaces as a means of encouraging a sense of neighbourliness and people looking out for each other;
  • this section (4) on page 67 lists key items in the Gateway Determination that require further assessment - this does not include CPTED - but lists other issues (considered more important?) such as building height, bulk, scale, heritage, building separation and solar access;
  • from this we can conclude that the consultants feel that the 2 pages in a 211 page report devoted to CPTED on pages 59-60 meet the brief that "Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles have been integrated into the planning proposal;”
  • clearly (as taxpayers!) this is not the case and we need to call out that this report as far as CPTED is concerned as substandard, makes token references to CPTED and makes no real effort to provide any technical analysis on the development;
  • the fact that the report has been endorsed by a Hassall Fellow Ken Maher (page 151) as a so-called Peer Review is also laughable and hardly impartial - his endorsement does his reputation no favours as far as CPTED is concerned
  • we can only conclude from the report that Hassall consultants are not trained in CPTED and do not have the required skills to provide the relevant expertise to make for a safer and better development in Waterloo South. This report reflects poorly on Hassall Consultants as they have ignored the requirement for a "broad and holistic" review in relation to "Whether Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles have been integrated into the planning proposal” and in this regard they have clearly not met the brief.  

Based on the available documentation we can only conclude that the Waterloo South redevelopment pays very little attention to CPTED, offers at best token references and makes no genuine effort to link specific crime and safety issues specifically to various components of the development at specific locations all of which exposes the N.S.W. Government to allegations that crime and safety issues in major developments on Government land are unworthy of consideration.  

REDWatch Note:

During Waterloo South capacity building sessions, CPTED concerns were raised about the proposed cross block connections. It was pointed out that LAHC had spent a lot of money 20+ years ago getting rid of such narrow connections on estate to cut crime and anti-social behaviour. Such connections create ambiguity of space, and therefore can be accessed by illegitimate users and create a “hemmed in” or feeling of enclosure where they are too narrow or may be avoided altogether if people don’t feel safe using them. It is likely that as these connections go through private open space in courtyards that they will be well screened to protect the privacy of people using the private open space resulting in a lack of eyes on what happens in these cross site connections.