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Desley Hass Submission on BEP2

Below is the submission on the Draft Redfern-Waterloo Built Environment Plan Stage 2 from Desley Hass. This submission has two parts the first deals with consultation, language and other issues while the sectond section deals with traffic and parking.

Part One


Before detailing my submission I wish to acknowledge the commitment, hard work and professionalism that was invested by Mr Roy Wakelin-King, the CEO of Redfern Waterloo Authority (RWA), and his staff in the presentation of the Built Environment Plan (BEP2) to the local community.

I agree with Mr Wakelin-King’s view that the commitment to gathering and understanding community views displayed by both the RWA and the Housing NSW has been of a high standard and that the implementation of the consultation process has been done in a professional manner. ( Letter to Redwatch 25 February 2011)

And it can be affirmed that the consultation process was a vast improvement on the one that was conducted for the Built Environment Plan for the Australian Technology Park.

I found the information sessions I attended at Redfern Town Hall most informative.  Informative not because I learnt to decipher or understand the Plans any more clearly by seeing them on display, but because of the opportunity given to engage in one-on-one discussions with consultants, RWA and Housing Department staff.

In light of my previous professional experience and from knowing some of the questions to ask, I am aware that I represent only a small segment of a very diverse community.

I’m more than happy to stand by my comments that at the sessions I learnt more about Planning in two hours than I had in two years. (Letter as above)

I would like also to compliment the thoroughness and the timely response of those who were involved in the Draft Built Environment Plan Stage 2 (BEP2) Frequently Asked Questions No. 2 process. From a professional standpoint, it was the most effective in which I have participated.  

Perhaps it would be worth considering using such informal sessions and an interactive Q and A process when community issues arise between RWA and the community.

Considering that the BEP2 took seven years to complete, the closing date for submissions after one month was far too short. It did not provide residents who have family commitments and busy professional lives sufficient time to research the issues that arose from grappling with the full implications of BEP2. My submission therefore focuses only on a few aspects of BEP2.

I trust that my comments will be taken constructively in the manner they are intended. The comments are not about the commitment or professionalism of those involved, but are about the underlying principles and attitudes that are embedded in every facet of BEP 2. Those principles and attitudes, though perhaps held unconsciously, seriously impact on the design, outcomes and the communication with the community of BEP2.

My concerns are

  • To other residents and me, true democratic community consultation occurs before Plans are presented, not after, when the Plans are well developed already and little chance exists for the community to influence in any significant manner the overall design or the outcomes of the Plans.

The word community means

  • common, public, shared by all or many being derived from the Latin communis,
  • the practical expression of our commonly owned goods, including the infrastructure in our streets, the services we depend on, our communication and exchanges and the way we actively build the world around us.
  • people living in a place who develop a sense of identity and a common culture, and create interdependence in a social system
  • at the same time, a community is any group that shares a location, interests or practices, defined by patterns of interaction among individuals, perceptions of commonality or common interests and/or geography
  • smaller communities exist within the larger community.

In the larger community of Redfern, Waterloo, Eveleigh and Alexandria that were once all connected historically, it is fairly easy to identify the many smaller communities that exist now.

It is this fact that creates a larger community that is a very complex, diverse and tangled place.

 Often in a large community an easily identified view rarely emerges on any issue. In this instance, the Department of Housing found through actively discussing one-on-one with hundreds of people during the BEP2 consultation process one view did emerge. Consistently people were more concerned about what was happening now to resolve the long-term unresolved community issues they still faced. Any future plans with future problems were just that, in the future.

·             When those in power try to define a community based on notions of unity and sameness, they often exclude or alienate those people or ‘elements’ who do not ‘fit’ this perceived balance. They are often called the ‘other’. If we are not vigilant, we can relegate certain elements or ideals to the ‘outside’ of a so-called homogeneous community…This definition of community excludes those members who views differ from the dominant view…. or who are just  plain ‘different’… This process of exclusion legitimizes the majority view as an expression of the democratic process.

And who is seen as ‘different’ in the Redfern Waterloo area? Could it be the Department of Housing tenants?

The real concern that exists within our broader community is that the hidden agenda underlying BEP2 is

·         to sell off public land to developers and

·         meanwhile the Department of Housing will hand over public housing stock to the non-government agencies.

With the proposed moving of 700 Housing Department tenants out of the area, the whole purpose could be seen as simply a way to remove the ‘different’ Housing Department tenants out of the Redfern Waterloo Eveleigh areas. By speeding up the gentrification of the area, the process allows the developers to make lots of money.

  • And to where are the 700 tenants being moved? The Plans are vague on that aspect.

The reality is that with the redevelopment and gentrification of the inner city suburbs which suburb within the Greater Sydney area is going to welcome 700 Housing tenants without a huge outcry?

Why an outcry? Too ‘different’?

We only have to ask who will benefit most from BEP2. One answer obviously is “definitely not the Department of Housing tenants!”

What is not apparently appreciated by many professionals involved in the BEP2 process who come from outside the area is that the Housing tenants are considered by other residents, not as a ‘different’ group, but as a significant and important section within the larger community of Redfern, Waterloo, Everleigh and Alexandria.

  • With regards to BEP2, consulting the broader community and the Housing tenants has nothing whatever to do with whether the need for consulting is statutory or not. (Letter to Redwatch, above)

In a democratic society, those whose livelihoods and environments and lives are at stake should be consulted and involved in the decisions that affect them.

Good practice in community consultation is not conducting it under sufferance because of a statutory requirement or consulting the community in spite of it not being really required. It is done because of a belief in the simple principle that community consultation is the most basic, practical, innovative way of creating effective plans for the community and this country.

Plans owned, implemented and supported actively by the community, long after the professionals and public servants have gone on to other projects.

  • In practice, there is a vast difference between consulting the community for their ideas and suggestions, and valuing their input sufficiently to include those ideas in the very foundation of the Plans and on the other hand, only asking for community feedback after Plans have been developed; developed by professionals who, mostly, do not live in the area for which they are busily creating plans.

One could question why this after and not before, why a feedback-only approach was taken with BEP2?

Aren’t the residents and the community the ones who have to live with the design and impact of the Plans?

If unforeseen, unintentional damage is done to a local community, as with the construction of the over-sized Channel 7 Building in the middle of a residential area, and no doubt will be the result of constructing more 12 storey buildings overlooking private homes in Waterloo, the professionals and public servants are not the ones left living on a daily basis with the damaging impact from such constructions.

  • Could it be that an underlying presumption of the BEP2 Plans is that the local community, unlike that the community in Gosford, does not have the abilities or ideas worthy of inputting into the initial creative process of BEP2?

Or is it an interest issue? Is there a presumed lack of people available in Redfern, Waterloo, Eveleigh or Alexandria who would be interested in participating and contributing in a meaningful way? As in Gosford, our community does consist of local professionals, capable of debating planning ideas and producing creative strategies for Plans that would affect their families’ and their everyday lives.

It is as if all the local town planners, architects, designers, engineers, journalists, politicians and community development workers who live locally, many long-term, simply did not exist.

Or could it be that professionals engaging the community are aiming too low? Apparently terrified of ‘raising expectations without being able to deliver’, they collapse under the barrage of risk-management advisers and often are reluctant to gather a group of residents together unless they have ‘all the answers’ or at least ‘a viable plan’?

A senior manager with a prominent development firm proudly told in 2003 that they had ‘never held a public meeting’. They would not allow their ‘enemies to congregate together in case they might “gang up against them’. Or even worse, influence or take control of the process.

(All the above quotes were from Kitchen Table Sustainability by Wendy Sarkissian et al, Earthscan and the International Institute for Environment and Development ,USA 2009)

  • If the above reasons do not apply, what is so difficult about involving a community from the very beginning? Involving a community that exists far beyond the physical suburb where development is happening?

The undeniable fact is what impacts on Redfern Waterloo Everleigh will flow on to impact on neigbouring Darlington, Camperdown, Erskineville, Alexandria, and Surry Hills.

            Why would it be so difficult to ask a community -

This is what we are aiming to achieve in Redfern Waterloo. As a member of the community, what, to you, is the best way to achieve these aims?

I can promise that the community does not consider dumping into the existing community of Redfern Waterloo more twelve-storey, high-density Meriton-style buildings, the best and only way to achieve the Government’s aim of settling more people into inner Sydney… if that, of course, is the real aim.

Such high buildings will impinge obviously on what little open space there is, especially around the high rises. They will have a higher environmental footprint and will definitely intrude into the privacy of existing private dwellings in the surrounding areas.

  • While consultation in the true meaning of the word may seem pie-in-the-sky 1970’s thinking in 2011, it is heartening to read of Gosford Council’s approach as described in ‘Gosford uses a new take on consultation for its city challenge’, Harvey Grennan, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 February 2010.

Every public authority pays lip service to community consultation. Often it is just a couple of news releases, a few advertisements in the weekly paper and some dusty display boards doing the rounds of local halls. Throw in an on line chat room and you can claim to be at the frontier of digital technology.

Gosford City Council gave a new dimension to consultation with the Gosford Challenge, which was to design a blueprint to turn a very tired central business district into a ‘world class waterfront city’ covering 350 hectares at a cost of $1 billion.

… The Gosford Challenge boasts all the digital bells and whistles, but new thresholds were reached in grassroots consultation.

First, some members of the public were involved in choosing the architect firms from around the world that made submissions. The winner was the Cox Group, headed by the internationally awarded Phillip Cox.

To assist the architects, the council set up nine ‘discovery teams’ representing interest groups such as women, environment, arts, business and transport. These groups provided input and were among more than 120 people including high school students to draw up goals and objectives of the plan at a series of workshops.

A smaller group of 27 people was elected to work directly with the architects ‘guiding the pen as the plan was drawn‘ at a four-day charrette’ led by Professor Patrick Condon of the University of British Columbia in Canada. A charrette –French for a small cart – is a term used by architects for an intensive design workshop involving ‘non-expert’ stakeholders.

It is interesting that the emphasis on ‘expert’ stakeholders, as usually happens locally, in the BEP2 process the balance was more to engaging the local people, the ‘non-expert’ stakeholders, to speak for themselves.

Community engagement processes are often weakened by an exclusive focus on identified stakeholders, with the assumption that these people share a common community goal. Proponents (particularly developers) often prefer to deal exclusively with ‘identified stakeholders’ (the principal of the local school, the manager of the childcare centre, the head of the volunteer fire brigade, the youth worker) but we know that these people rarely reflect all views or even share a common community goal. How, for example, can a youth worker speak on behalf of youth? He or she can only speak confidently on behalf of youth workers. But not for the youth. (Wendy Sarkissian)

  • The argument for respecting and valuing the public and the community involvement is of far more significance than simply being a debate on different philosophies underpinning community development.

Far beyond the grass-root level, in the higher reaches of the Corporate World, people like Mark Textor, as a Strategist, one of the most influential voices in Australian public life, sets great store by “ the collective intelligence of the community”.

He believes that in the voice of the public opinion some hear the disturbing sound of our most base prejudices.

Textor hears sound common sense .

He strongly believes in a rough-house democracy full of passionate debate where people are prepared to argue their case and take the consequences.

“Public opinion is just good diligence” he says. “You can never underestimate how discriminating and discerning people’s views are. And you should never underestimate it.”

(Sydney Morning Herald, Weekend Edition, 26-27 February 2011, p.7)

  • As an example of where the involvement of the local community beforehand would have been beneficial to the BEP2 community consultation process, is with the brochure Revitalising Redfern Waterloo.

Obviously much preparation and good design went into producing the Brochure but one is left questioning whether time was spent reflecting on what was the main purpose of the Brochure and for whom it was written?

If the intention was to introduce and communicate the proposed BEP2 to the local community, in all its diversity, the Brochure fails on many fronts.

It seems a shame that if the writer of the Brochure had approached a handful of residents before writing the text or had asked for the Brochure to be critiqued before its release, the residents could have quickly alerted them to the communication blocks and hotspots in the Brochure.

As Wendy Sarkissian sets out in Kitchen Table Sustainability

the underpinnings of community engagement arising from theory and practice are

1.       People know more than they realize.

2.       People cannot participate satisfactorily unless they can understand the language being used.

3.       People often fear giving their opinions, especially in their home locality.

4.       People’s involvement improves the quality of the local government.

As a handout to inform, the Brochure does not engage the reader with clear concepts.

The language used is not the language that the ordinary person would use or easily understand.

For the local professionals with backgrounds in the broad Development and Planning area, yes, but on the other hand, a neighbour who works in a professional Design capacity said even he had difficulty with the language and the intent and it just seemed gobbledygook to him.

Much of the language is corporate-speak buzz words. For example “sustainable” is used three times on the front page. “Sustainable” is definitely not a word used in every day language in the community.

The same complaint could be made about the language in the BEP2 documentation that was on public view.

What on earth does the height is a predominant or a maximum height  or a more sustainable mix of social, private and affordable housing mean?

  • I’m not discussing dumbing down the language.

To quote from Human Medicine Miles Little, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1995 in an extract from The Social History of Language  P. Burke et al, Cambridge University, Press Cambridge 1987.

There are four basic principles of sociolinguistics:

1.       different social groups use different varieties of language

2.      the same people use different varieties of language in different situations

3.      language reflects the society in which it is spoken

4.      language shapes the society in which it is spoken.

For example, in relation to BEP2 written material it would be the same situation for a doctor writing a health article for lay people. If he wanted people to comprehend the information and to act, he would not choose to use medical terms that are not widely understood outside his profession.

Corporate speak belongs to the corporate world and is a huge turn-off for most people. Used in the wrong context, it raises suspicions about spin and hidden intentions. In this instance, it lessens the trust significantly in the whole Planning process.

As Wendy Sarkissian points out without the foundation of trust, all our efforts to achieve (community) education, action, inclusion, nourishment and governance fall short.

After all these years of government shenanigans and broken promises and outright lies, trust is already in short supply in the community.

After all the social research projects that did not come to fruition; the lack of constructive action in repairing Housing Department tenants’ homes despite the promises; and the non-consultation with the very residents nearest to the ATP during the release of the BEP for the ATP, skepticism, suspicion and doubt about intentions are already running high in the community.

The slightest communication misstep in the BEP2 written material only heightens those suspicions and the mistrust, making communication and dialogue with the community even that more difficult.

If the material was written in Plain English, one of the benefits may be that the clearer language would provide greater transparency of the underlying intention of the Plans. The reader would spend less time and less focus on being on high alert to identify the spin and the hidden agendas. More time would be spent on simply understanding the facts.

  • Another issue with the Brochure was that though the drawings were wonderfully drawn, the photos included do not give a true indication of the before and after of the implementation of the Plan. This is obvious if one walks the streets and compares the drawings and their perspectives with the reality of the actual physical settings. It leaves one feeling slightly duped.

To a Planner such drawings are the norm, but to a resident, again, the drawings and photos raise suspicions about intention and hidden agendas. And, again, lessen the trust and the belief that the process is sincere.

  • It was admirable to see that efforts were made during the BEP2 consultation process to engage the community at a local level by gathering the community views through the informal process of simply conversing with residents and collecting their comments. As one Housing tenant pointed out “ If they really want to know what we think, why not just walk the streets and talk to people.”
  • Another of my major communication concerns, shared by others, is the emphasis on accessing or providing information by computers when so many in our community do not have computers or the skills to use one.

Expecting such people, and those who have little experience in writing letters or submissions to submit a formal submission is totally alienating and excludes a large section of our community from participating in a meaningful way. 

·                    It was great to hear that submission-writing classes were organized. On the other hand, as it is for the people even with the necessary computing and writing skills, it would still be a very daunting, time-consuming and challenging process for many in our community.

Surely the aim of consulting the community should be inclusive not exclusive?

Would not one way to free up the whole formal submission ‘boxed-in’ approach be to promote the presentation of informal submissions that could be not only creative but brief? Or even ones that can be created as a group as a drawing or presented as a piece of entertainment by a community centre, for example, the Cliff Noble Centre at Alexandria? A fun, creative submission process that could go on display at the ATP?

·         I am sure many of us in the community would be more than prepared to help those who have neither the computer skills nor feel their writing or expression skills are up to the task of preparing a formal or informal submission. We could visit people’s homes or work with them on the community centre’s computers (Cliff Noble, The Factory,  South Sydney Community Aid, Waterloo Library) to capture people’s views directly onto a computer.

Underlying Attitudes and Perceptions

  • At the Branding of Redfern presentation a few weeks ago, I listened to many comments from consultants and residents on the differences in attitudes and perception of this area between those who live in the Redfern Waterloo area and those who do not.

May I suggest that the people who were involved in the preparation of the BEP2 and the communication about the Plans might consider checking their underlying attitudes and perceptions of this area?

Their perceptions and attitudes are obvious in the written BEP2 material. Not only are they obvious, they are offensive to many in the community.

For a community consultation to be successful it is fairly important not to insult the community nor create fear in the opening caption of a Brochure.

For example, a number of people were affronted and did not read past the caption under the drawing on the front page.

The caption read to create a safer and sustainable environment.

  • Safer for whom? Are the implications that the area is not safe? 

The use of safe is dated. While the area (Redfern-Waterloo-Alexandria) may not have been safe seven years ago when the BEP2 initial stages first began, Redfern Police and residents could vouch for the fact that in 2011, this area is certainly much safer than it ever was. It is much safer now than other parts of Sydney.

Are we again not being told about attacks in the Australian Technology Park (ATP)? In the past when the ATP was under the management of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, the community was not kept informed. In one instance, two security guards ended up in hospital after an attack with an axe during a drug deal that went seriously wrong.  The community was told nothing.

  • Going back to the Brochure, why isn’t our environment considered  sustainable now? In what ways?
  • Constant references to create a vibrant community and to create a thriving…community are indicative of the patronizing, paternalistic, disrespectful tones and attitudes that underlie, and undermine, the Brochure.

Is the inference that a vibrant, thriving community does not exist now?  What standards and whose standards are being overlaid on our communities?

Such inferences are completely offensive to residents. Such inferences discount and devalue how our communities actually are, and have been historically.  They ignore the bonds and ties that have always existed.

Did the writers of the Brochure and the Plans bother to ask the local people in all their diversity how they feel about their community? Did they listen?

We don’t need bureaucrats and professionals from the Shire, North Shore and Northern Beaches to tell us how our community should be. Who gives outsiders the right to judge our community or to think they have the right to create, or more likely, try to create a community that looks like theirs or fits some artificial standard?

  • That, to others and me, is the fundamental flaw in the Brochure. The misconception being that communities are created by bureaucrats or professionals imposing their view, designs and will from the top onto the ineffectual people below.

Yet the truth and the reality is …. No one from on high can create a community.

 It’s the people themselves who create thriving communities.

We are proud to live in this area. We choose to live here. We are happy to be a part of this community. If the public servants, professionals and consultants do not appreciate the pleasure of living here, then that is their problem. Why do they think they have some god-given right to impose their perceptions on us? How patronizing, how disrespectful!

If the public servants,  professionals and consultants visited the Waterloo Library and saw the wonderful work that the librarians have done in building a community place and inclusion; if they sat at a bus stop or rode the local buses to the Metro Shopping Centre; if they walked the local streets, visited the local doctors and frequented the local cafes and hotels they would see and hear the community.

While our area may look tatty and run down with too many ‘different’ people and while Redfern Waterloo may not meet the expectations of how a community should look for those coming from outside the area, it is and always has been a vibrant area with its own characteristics. For that, it deserves respect.

Tim MacDonald’s of Channel 7 comments that Channel 7 would bring pizzazz to Redfern have not been forgotten. He and Channel 7 brought something to the area but it certainly could not be called pizzazz.

  • I found it interesting in the Plans that no real acknowledgement was made of the strength, the history and the vibrancy historically of the Redfern Waterloo area. What a wonderful aspect for the Plans to have built upon!

While the superficial Branding of Redfern may have its place, why was the amazing history and social mix and community strength that lie in the array of churches within Redfern Waterloo and Alexandria not highlighted or even featured? For example, St George’s Orthodox Cathedral with its history of waves of migrant parishioners since World War One from Lebanon, St Maroun’s Cathedral, the Maori Anglican Church, the Chinese Congregational Church, the Tongan Uniting Church, St Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, the Serbian Church in Alexandria, etc, etc.

BEP2 will deliver a more sustainable social mix? As if this wass not social mix at its most visible and historical?

  • One can look at Erskineville, now given the thumbs up as the year’s hottest prospect for homebuyers…(one of the reasons being) for its village like atmosphere ( Sydney Morning Herald 19 February 2011. One can look at Alexandria, and in both suburbs see the huge changes that have occurred in the past 15 years; changes that simply flowed naturally, just as they had before that in Newtown, creating a social mix that successfully evolved by itself, without outside professional or government intervention.

And as such, the flow on would have occurred into Redfern and Waterloo;

no forced gentrification, no imposing by Government from the top, just a natural evolution over a short period. Driven by market forces? Changes in lifestyles of different generations? Who knows?

Not that unforced gentrification doesn’t bring its own problems as pointed out in a recent report Gentrification and Displacement: The Household Impacts of Neighbourhood Change by researchers from the University of York in Britain and Monash University and Swinburne University of Technology in Australia. (Sydney Morning Herald 15-16 January 2011)

Marrickville and Randwick local government areas and the Concord part of Canada Bay experienced the most rapid gentrification in the Sydney region in the decade up to 2006.

Newtown… was a classic case of the shift in residents from labourers, factory workers, students and shopkeepers to lawyers, journalists and other professionals.

The study, for the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, draws attention to the damaging consequences of gentrification for neighbourhoods, and for people forced to move on.

“Those who have been evicted were often deeply angry at their enforced move,” the report says. “Those struggling to stay found themselves impoverished by hikes in their rents, but also feeling no longer at ease in (their) neighbourhoods.”

  • A few years ago Erskineville was fighting to keep its school from being closed. Today the waiting list, for the same school, is lengthy and very difficult on which to get a local child’s name.

The population of Redfern Waterloo under BEP2 is expected to increase to 11,000, to double. Will Redfern School be able to cope? Ooops, Redfern School is no more. It was closed in recent years. Gone!

Is it any wonder the local community has serious doubts about the data used and the commonsense and thinking behind decisions that have been made? And doubts now about the decisions inherent in BEP2? Will similar mistakes be made?

Whether the decision to close Redfern School was based on the last census statistics from 2006 or not, one can not help wonder how much of BEP2 was based on these same out-dated statistics and not based on the visible changes that were so obvious; obvious that over the past five years a significant number of families with children have moved into the area; obvious that a significant number of small children and babies have been born here.

Local suburbs like Alexandria that a short while ago were full of the elderly original inhabitants are now blooming and bursting with children. It will be interesting to see if this fact, after the next census, holds true for the whole Redfern Waterloo area too.


   1. that the community be involved from the first initial planning stages, that is, before not after the preparation of Plans
  1. that the Gosford Model of community consultation be explored and implemented for the Master Plan stage.
  1. that the data to be used, on which the Plans are to be based, is thoroughly checked for relevance and accuracy  and, most importantly, its use-by-date
  1. that before any Plans are prepared, the attitudes and perceptions of those preparing the Plans are identified and clarified.
  1. that before any communication – written or oral -  is conducted with the community that the underlying attitudes, perceptions and the tone of the communication are assessed for appropriate fit with the diverse sections of the community.
  1. that all plans and brochures for presentation to the community are to be written in Plain English.
  1. that any printed material before it is released to the community be checked and evaluated by a group of residents.
  1.  that their feedback on the material be taken into serious consideration and acted upon.
  1. that the formal submission process be changed to allow more informal creative communication to be used. 

It is important for effective consultation that whatever communication methods are used that they are in keeping with the wider community needs and abilities, for people to be able to present their views in a non-threatening way.

In other words, it is recommended that the submission process fits the people, not the people having to fit the submission process.

  1. that volunteers from the community be used to assist people in the community to prepare their submissions in what ever way, to the people themselves, seems appropriate. Local community centres and their computers, or volunteers on their laptops backed by an organized appointment system, could be used to prepare the submissions for the residents.
  1. that more emphasis is placed on grass roots strategies of “walking and talking” with the local people to identify and record their views.
  1. that more opportunities be given for one-on-one discussions with public servants, consultants and professionals when communities issues arise that require resolution.
  1. that the problems in the community, e.g. parking, repairs, access, that are affecting people today be resolved immediately.

For the reason that worthwhile meaningful discussions of future community Plans can only come after immediate needs have been addressed. Basic needs have to be addressed before one can move on to deal with another matter.

  1. that the community’s strong distaste of high-density developments full of Meriton-styled overly-high buildings (We don’t want another Moore Park!) be taken seriously.
  1. that their desire for village-like communities with buildings of appropriate height and more open spaces be acted upon.

Part 2


My comments are as a resident and on the same basis as in my Submission on BEP2: Part 1.

I appreciate the professionalism that has been involved in the preparation of the Report   Redfern and Waterloo Traffic and Transport Context: Built Environment Plan (Stage 2) by Parsons Brinckerhoff.

The concerns I have on the validity of the Report arise from practical experience and knowledge of the local area. I have lived, shopped and walked in the area of Redfern, Waterloo, Alexandria and Erskineville for the past 15 years. In that time the area has undergone immense fundamental changes.

Since 2002, I have not owned a car. The streets in the local area are part of daily trips to and from home. I know well the joy of using local public transport.

As the time frame for preparing submissions was short, one month for a Plan that took seven years to prepare, I have included in Part 2 of this Submission the written comments from another resident who was unable to make the closing date.

Comments on Traffic and Parking

·         As expressed in Part One of the Submission I have serious concerns about the data used throughout BEP2 and, especially, about the data used in the Traffic and Transport Report.

In an area undergoing such immense changes, for the Report to base its findings on data from 2006 and 2008 seems rather unwise.

If one spoke to Redfern Police one would discover very quickly that as a result of the increased traffic and parking in the area since 2006 and, even more so, since 2008, the traffic and parking problems in the area of Redfern Waterloo and Alexandria have become quite serious.

One example would be the impacts that resulted from the construction of the 12-storey Channel 7 Building in the Australian Technology Park  (ATP).  The Traffic Report did accurately predict a possible issue. The data showed that in 2006 43% of the ATP employees were driving their cars. As no free employee parking was allocated in the Channel 7 Building, 43% of 2000 employees became a huge number to find parking places for their cars in the tiny streets of Alexandria. During the day, this has resulted in far less parking places for local residents.

The issue was complicated further by a rise in the cost of parking in the ATP. It now stands allegedly between $20 and $30 a day. It is completely understandable, that for the ordinary employees who work in the ATP, $400 and $600 a month is a large amount of money to be expected to pay just to park a car. Many of the cars are probably still being paid for.

I would suggest that when

  • a local Bishop
  • the Co-Ordinators of Kindergartens and Community Centres locally
  • the local residents of different nationalities, religions and political affiliations
  • all share the same view, and
  • are extremely concerned, frustrated and angry about a worsening parking situation that has existed now for two years

it would be worthwhile for any planners and consultants for new developments in the local area to take notice and listen.  

After the chaos that has been caused by the construction of just one 12-storey building, perhaps a far more careful assessment needs to be taken of the potential impacts inherent in the construction of more 12-storey buildings in Redfern Waterloo.

·         Redfern Waterloo is not an island. It is interconnected very closely with the surrounding areas. With the overwhelming of the parking spaces in the streets of Alexandria, and with fewer available parking spaces after the implementation of parking restrictions in those streets, the parking problem will push further into Alexandria and into Redfern Waterloo.

·         It is wonderful that our streets have become safer. On the other hand, it is ironical that the safer the streets have become, the more the cars flood our streets and usurp the parking spaces of streets such as in The Block in Redfern.

The more that happens, the more the battles between residents and commuters increase. And then the Police will be caught in the middle trying to deal with situations that have been the result of Plans and Reports relying on three or four- year-old data rather than the evidence in our streets today.

·         My concerns about the management of parking were heightened even more at the Branding of Redfern presentation recently at Redfern Town Hall. A question was asked from the floor about the stress on infrastructure and whether anything was being done to relieve the pressure on traffic and parking. The reply was Redfern was going to grow one way or another. The aim was to promote discussion. It is important to discuss how we can grow for the future. The RWA was  working on those (parking) problems now.

At the risk of flogging a very dead horse, the current parking problems that have existed and been discussed endlessly for the past two years have become worse, not better, in spite of we are working on those problems.

If we cannot fix the current problems, why should anybody feel confident that the future parking problems will be resolved when they occur, as occur they will?

As the Housing Department tenants and local residents emphasized in the recent BEP2 discussions, the resolution now of current problems and difficulties are far more important to a resident than the need to discuss future plans that may have future problems. Basic human psychology!

·         From another perspective, some people would prefer that the social and environmental impacts of the BEP2 were identified openly and transparently.  This would greatly allay their fears and certainly would create more trust in the process.

If someone is renovating next door, it is not the overall design that is of most concern. What one would want to know immediately is the height and breadth of the building and the impacts on their property. Yet nowhere in the BEP2 are the impacts - over shadowing, loss of view and light, loss of open space, increases in   parking and traffic and noise - openly and realistically admitted as distinct possibilities. Like the person who asked the question at the Branding of Redfern  session, some people would prefer to know.

·         Another a small point is that after my taking note of local parking for the past two years, I can confirm that a Friday is not the day to be recording data as was done on Friday 26 September 2008 in the Traffic Report. Parking is always noticeably less on a Friday.

·         Simple commonsense would say, on the basis of what has occurred already in Alexandria and Erskineville with parking, the same could very well happen in Redfern Waterloo. With the gentrification of an area through the building of more private units and homes for owners with greater disposable income, as is planned in BEP2, the more the car numbers will increase. The more popular an area becomes, the higher the rents of investment properties rise. There is an increase in the numbers of cars owned by people sharing expensive units. An ever-increasing pattern.

·         When a Report is using unreliable data and appears to be ignoring the lessons sadly learnt in areas adjoining Redfern Waterloo, is it any wonder that serious doubts rise about the validity of a Traffic Report’s recommendations?

The increase in residential development that will be facilitated by the proposed planning framework in the draft Stage 2 of the Built Environment Plan (BEP2), together with some community and retail development to support residents, would have only a modest impact on the traffic performance of the surrounding road network.

The population under BEP2 will increase to allegedly 11,000, double the number now. 700 affordable housing and 3,500 private housing are to be constructed. It is highly unlikely that the majority of the occupants will not have a number of cars per household. Meanwhile, the main feeder roads Botany, Wyndham, McEvoy, Mitchell and Henderson are already choked for long periods of the day. And yet it is stated in the Report that there will be only a modest impact on the traffic!

As this is a formal submission, the only polite words to use may be is what total poppycock!

The Report says that the reasons the forecast traffic generation will be modest (is) as a result of:

  • historically low use of private car travel in the area
  • the study area being well supported by local buses and trains which provide good access to the city CBD and beyond
  • good walking and cycling connectivity to the bus and train services
  • car ownership lower than in other parts of the city.

How can one rationally and logically use the claim of a historically low use of private car travel in the area

·         if the population is to double under BEP2

  • the social mix is to be changed to bring into the area more people and families on far higher incomes
  • 700 Housing tenants on a low income with mostly few cars are to be moved out and more wealthy people with more cars are to move in?

How does any of that prove there will be only a modest impact on traffic?

·         If the whole issue of traffic and parking wasn’t so serious and having such a huge impact on people’s lives, the statement of well supported by local buses and trains which provide good access to the city CBD and beyond would be hilarious.

Has the person who wrote that statement ever used public transport in this area, or spoke to people who do regularly? Or have they simply established the facts that the area has a railway station and buses running down the roads and then presumed?

·         The local bus system is a joke. Just ask the elderly people who are members of the Cliff Noble Centre at Alexandria. They are currently so fed up that they are taking up a petition requesting action by the Premier on improving the bus services into this area.

When one sees a 380 bus, it is a case of “Oh, look! a 380.” It’s the equivalent of sighting an endangered species.

The 370 has a great timetable except the buses rarely come according to the timetable.

When they do arrive, they come in two’s and three’s. When a shortage of bus drivers occurs for the school buses, the 370 is cancelled and the driver becomes the replacement on a school bus. The timetable ends along the route before 8pm so anybody who is on a pension, who has no car and uses buses cannot go out in the evenings and has to stay home.

On Christmas Eve, with the longer shopping hours for customers, the 355 from Marrickville Metro stopped running before 5.30pm. People were stranded at the bus stop. Elderly people, some with walking sticks, laden with shopping bags, had no way of getting home.

·         Regarding Redfern Station, most of us could not care less about an up-grade for Redfern Station. It is fine as it is. What is not fine is that the Station discriminates totally against the elderly, disabled and young mothers with children and prams.  What is not fine is the fact that the Station has no lifts.

Not even a button on the platforms to press to alert station staff that help is required when people need assistance getting up two flights of stairs. Infuriating! Totally unfair and limiting of life choices to so many in our community.

·         Good access to the city?

I don’t think so. In the first instance, without a great deal of trouble, many people in our community cannot even get on and off the trains at Redfern. That is, of course, if the trains are running. How could that be described as good access?

The writer of the above statements in the Traffic Report obviously does not use the trains from Redfern on a regular basis. Otherwise they would know that, most week-ends, track work occurs on at least one of the lines. Access to the city CBD and beyond becomes a complete nightmare for anyone brave enough to attempt it.

I wonder if they have ever tried getting back to Redfern late on a Saturday night from Manly as I attempted to do on 19 February this year when no trains and few feeder buses were running in the CBD and taxis were impossible to get. It became a complete nightmare just trying to reach home.

Has the Report writer ever travelled regularly to Richmond and gone through the hassle of climbing on and off buses and trains, loaded with shopping, as a result of the line being up graded? That happens regularly year in year out.

·         What is the point of reporting good walking and cycling connectivity to bus and train services when the bus and train services are hopeless and a total embarrassment when compared to those of other world cities.

Most of us would love to cycle.

But we would have to be very brave to commute on a bicycle and attempt to deal with

  • the attitude of many car drivers
  • the traffic at the density it is now locally
  • the increased traffic density that will eventuate after the implementation of BEP2 and
  • the traffic  impact of huge proposed developments, some 18-storeys high, close to Redfern Waterloo.

And the problem is not only the traffic hazards. Often it’s the simple lack of consideration. One cyclist who pedals regularly on their way to work through the ATP complains of the use of leaf blowers early in the morning and the spraying of pesticides on the ATP paths used by cyclists.

·         But what some of our biggest concerns are about is not the relatively simple impacts but the more complicated ones arising out of the size of the developments surrounding Redfern Waterloo and Alexandria and how those will, with the implementation of BEP2,  impact on the traffic flow into and out of this area.

In terms of the impact of traffic associated with developments in the vicinity of South Eveleigh (eg Ashmore), the study recognises other major developments in the area and provides a 1.5% annual traffic growth assumption across the road network, considered by Parsons Brinckerhoff to be a generous estimate of likely growth of traffic for the Waterloo and Redfern precincts, given that recent growth rates have been less than 1% a year. In line with this assumption, between 2010 and 2030 the annual growth rate would increased traffic assigned by projects, other than those specifically addressed in BEP2, by 30%.  BEP2’s potential demand is added to that. This is considered valid as none of the proposals in the area are expected to be approved, built and completely occupied in one year – it is a much longer horizon of change.

Quoted From an Email from Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority (SMDA)

·         A resident has written, in dot points, his concerns and thoughts about the impacts of developments such as BEP2 and Ashmore on traffic flow and whether those impacts have been realistically identified:

1. Concerns at the lack of strategic planning to manage traffic in the area.

2. Concerns that the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority (SMDA) which RWA is now a part of, have not co-ordinated their BEP with that of the City of Sydney's draft City Plan. Very little evidence is demonstrated that either organisation is committed (or willing) to work meaningfully with each other. They appear to have different agendas. Yet both Plans seek to increase densities across Southern Sydney

3. A commitment is required to undertake a full traffic management and accessibility plan (TMAP) for the wider area to manage inevitable increased traffic. SMDA as a Government organisation should be pushing for this with all the relevant stage agencies. Surely this is the correct approach to strategic planning.

4. BEP2 does not take into consideration impacts of:

•   Ashmore increased densities;

•   ATP increased workers Redfern/Waterloo increased densities;

•   Increased densities in Green Square Town Centre increased densities;

•   Ikea to operate from Tempe;

•   Bunnings on McEvoy Street, with inevitable increase congestion and rat-running; and

•   Further development within the wider Green Square Urban Renewal Area.

5. The traffic analysis only considers the impacts of the RWA area. Key roads in the area - Botany Road / Regent Street and Wyndham Street / Gibbons Street and the Chalmers Street / are State roads and will also need to accommodate growth from the Green Square area. This corridor is also a major freight corridor with expected increases in freight traffic from Port Botany and the airport. Any traffic analysis on Regent St / Botany Rd and Wyndham St / Gibbons St needs to also include growth from the Green Square area and any predicted freight increases

6. Proposals for road openings must be consulted with the local community, with a definite commitment to undertake meaningful consultation as development proposal come on board - the community needs to fully understand implications of increased through traffic or "rat-running" in their area. The trend for highly technical consultants reports needs to stop. A requirement of all work should be that it is in clear plain English (or that a plain English summary doc is also provided with all documentation).

The traffic flow on the Pacific Highway and Parramatta Road has significantly increased from 2006 to 2010. During morning peak hour traffic the kilometres per hour on Parramatta Road has decreased from 31 to 28, on the Pacific Highway from 38 to 34. (Sunday Telegraph 20 February 2011)

It is a high probability that a similar increase in traffic flow has occurred on the feeder roads into Redfern Waterloo.

I cannot judge if the figures from SMDA of 1.5% would cover correctly that increase or the impacts on traffic flow and congestion from a 18-storey building as proposed for Ashmore, an Ikea and another Bunnings, MacDonalds, Dan Murphys etc, etc being developed in the local area.

Commonsense does suggest that the increase would be significantly more than 1.5%.

Comments on Affordable Housing: a story

Affordable Housing, what a great idea.  

To quote from BEP2:

What is affordable housing?

Affordable housing for low to moderate income households, including key workers, such as police, teachers or nurses, provided at a discounted rental and usually managed by a community housing provider.

To me, it was one of the more positive aspects of BEP2. That was, until I read and article in the Manly Daily on 26 February 2011, headed:

Unit plans just greed

“Let’s fight, all the way.

That is the message form Pittwater councillor Patricia Giles against a proposed development in Newport, which falls under Sate Government affordable rental housing laws.

Councillors and some Newport residents unanimously condemned the development in Beaconsfield St ahead of a challenge in the Land and Development Court in April.

“It has nothing to do with affordable housing – it’s got to do with money in the bank for developers”, she said.

“I think we could all agree on the crimes against this area by the State Government –its greed in the name of affordable housing.”

Pittwater Mayor Harvey Rose said: “(The legislation) does little but provide a chance to developers to avoid the normal protocols and end up with structures that should not be there. It is totally against orderly planning.”

“That’s what happened with the Meriton’s development in Warriewood and it must be rejected and fought all the way.”

Under the council’s building regulations, the proposal does not provide enough parking and solar access in most units and there are privacy intrusions into neighbouring homes and inadequate storage space and landscaping.

Other developments under the government legislation are being proposed for Eleanor Heights and Frenchs Forest.

The article forgot to mention developments for Refern Waterloo as well.

Some how after reading that article Affordable Housing did not appear after all to be such a worthwhile strategy based on caring for the workers and being sensitive to their needs.

But there was more:


  • Developments can be approved without having to comply with many of the usual council controls
  • A minimum of half of the dwellings in the development must be retained as affordable rental housing
  • Affordable rental dwellings are managed by a community housing provider for 10 years after which they may be sold at market value
  • Community housing is part of the Housing NSW public housing system. Applicants for the community housing must be currently on, or added to, the Housing NSW waiting list.

At first I thought I must have missed the complete details on Affordable Housing at the number of BEP2 briefings I had attended. I asked another resident if that was the case. This is the reply I received:

You did not miss anything.

The ten year period has always been the sleeper - it is a way of the state subsidising the developer who sells to a holding company who holds the property for the best [cheapest] years of its life whilst the market improves, and then sells without having to establish a sinking fund for future maintenance, and also takes the tax breaks. This leaves the area in the same predicament as it was in originally - too expensive for essential services workers to live in.

After being presented with this entirely different picture of Affordable Housing, how could one not be left feeling utterly conned and duped.

In light of the principles of building trust, transparency and openness, hasn’t the community that has participated so thoroughly in the BEP2 consultation a right to the answers of the questions below?

·         Is Refern Waterloo coming under a different Affordable Housing law and policy?

·         Why during the briefings was it never explained fully that:

 Affordable rental dwellings are managed by a community housing provider for 10 years after which they may be sold at market value?

·         What are the actual details of SMDA and RWA policy on Affordable Housing?

·         How does it differ to the Affordable Housing law that is operating at Pittwater?

·         Who actually will own the 700 Affordable Housing to be built in Redfern Waterloo?

·         Who will profit from their sale?

·         Where are the key workers suppose to live after 10 years?

·         Or is it expected they will be the buyers?

To return to my quotes from Mark Textor (Sydney Morning Herald) in my Submission BEP2 Part One:

“The Sussex Street, NSW Labour Headquarters’, viewis that people are ignorant and we’ll exploit that...The cynical view is people are so silly they can be manipulated. My view is people will make the best decision they can and they will think hard as they can about it. And the alternate view is a very poor view of our community.

They are saying ‘let’s have a completely cynical and superficial conversation with the electorate.’ But they have been found out. I think there’s going to be a dramatic cost for that attitude and you see it in their brand health right across Australia.”


  1. that the existing parking problems in the Redfern, Waterloo and Alexandria be resolved immediately in consultation with the community.
  1. that the deficiencies in local bus services be identified and action taken to improve the services to this area in accordance with the community’s wishes.
  1. that the lack of access to Redfern Station for the elderly, disabled and young mothers be addressed now.  
  1. that new up-to-date data be collected and further assessment of the impact of  the developments in Redfern Waterloo and Alexandria on traffic flow in this area be given a high priority.
  1. that the questions in this Submission about SMDA/RWA policy on Affordable Housing be answered and circulated to the community as soon as possible.
  1. that an explanation be given why the full details about Affordable Housing Policy was not disclosed as part of the BEP2 presentation.


Desley Haas

Alexandria, 2015