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You are here: Home / UrbanGrowth, SMDA & RWA Plans & Activities / Built Environment Plan Phase 2 - Public Housing Estates / Renewal of Social Housing in Redfern- Waterloo BEP2 - Article in New Planner

Renewal of Social Housing in Redfern- Waterloo BEP2 - Article in New Planner

This article was published in the Planning Institute of NSW's journal New Planner June 2011. Our attention was drawn to this article at the presentation by City of Sydney on July 7 2011 because of its comments on the effectiveness of the BEP2 consultation which is contested between local agencies and Government. No reports have been released by either HNSW or RWA about the consultation and what they heard the community say. Agencies and community groups such as REDWatch raised concerns about the consultation in their submissions. It was concerns about the quality of the consultation that directly lead to the formation of the Groundswell Coalition.


Renewal of Social Housing in Redfern- Waterloo BEP2

Jason Perica – Acting Director Planning and Urban Renewal, Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority
Groundswell’s attention was drawn to this article at the presentation by City of Sydney on July 7 2011. The effectiveness of the consultation and what HNSW and the RWA &...<div class=
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Innovative community engagement is a vital element of a recent planning initiative in the Redfern Waterloo area. In particular a focus on capacity building among social housing tenants and a street corner approach to consultation is paying dividends.

The development of an appropriate and effective planning framework for the future of the social housing sites in Redfern and Waterloo is one of the key priorities for the Redfern-Waterloo Authority (RWA) with the Built Environment Plan (BEP 2) Stage 2 (BEP 2) recently announced for community consultation.

The social housing sites in Redfern-Waterloo operational area cover around 33 hectares of land and currently accommodate around 4,300 social housing dwellings. The majority of social housing (3500) occurs in the concentrated social housing area of Redfern and Waterloo. Social hosing comprises 4 4% of all housing in the RWA area, and 26% of the 22,000 population (a lower proportion due to low occupancy rated,

The RWA was created in 2005 and is responsible for revitalizing the suburbs of Redfern, Waterloo, Eveleigh and Darlington through urban renewal, improved human services and job creation. This includes developing a Redfern-Waterloo Plan, which comprised of three elements: — the Human Services Plan, the Employment and Enterprise Plan; and the Built Environment Plan.

The Built Environment Plan has been developed in two stages. Stage 1 of the plan related to the eight strategic sites identified in the SEPP (Major Development) 2005. The Built Environment Plan Stage 2 (BEP 2) focuses on revitalising existing public housing stock, providing an appropriate social mix (or type of housing) and increasing the affordable housing in the area.

The RWA worked closely with Housing NSW (HNSW), on the following objectives:

1. To retain the stock of social housing in the LGA to ensure that no resident would need to move from Redfern-Waterloo;

2. To create a social mix of 60 per cent private and affordable housing and 40 per cent social housing (based on market and social research):

3.  Undertake an urban design based analysis of the wider area to guide appropriate new controls (led by Group EPA); and and

4.  Undertake leading community consultation and engagement..

The outcome was the draft BEP 2 planning framework for the next 20-25 years. It and accommodates a total of 7000 homes, comprising 2800 social homes, 3500 private dwellings and 700 affordable homes.

The draft BEP 2 was put on one month’s public exhibition on 27 January 2011, which was informally extended by two weeks. This was a non-statutory, and additional, process, and an additional process from normal procedure as a statutory study for the wider area will follow later in 2011.

Prior to formal exhibition, it was recognised there would need to be some capacity building among social housing residents so they can better understand planning controls, building design, social mix, building heights etc.

To this end, Housing NSW and the RWA undertook a range of initiatives including:

  • A series of Forums introduced visiting experts on community and urban renewal to the Redfern Waterloo communities. important dialogue to build understanding took place; and
  • A series of bus trips out to masterplan end housing developments so residents got first hand experience of planning controls ‘in action’. These bus trips were staffed by Bilingual Community Educators able to speak Russian and Chinese languages, the predominant Non English languages spoken in the area

The consultation process included the detailed and usual activities associated with public exhibition of planning documents such as newspaper advertisements, a newsletter distribution to 18,000 households/ businesses, .dedicated phone tine, web pages, FAQs, briefings of .stakeholders and discs available on request.

However, a more personalised and direct approach was required as many social housing residents had statistically far less access to the internet, car ownership, were Less mobile and less likely to understand planning language.

This approach involved:

  • 21 informal street corner consultations around the social housing sites so RWA and HNSW were highly visible and accessible, allowing sufficient time to discuss the plan and answer any questions;
  • Providing bilingual community educators (translators) trained in the highest proportion of non-English speaking residents {Russian, Cantonese and Mandarin, and with a HNSW Aboriginal Housing Specialist;
  • Four street corner sessions aimed at an Indigenous audience; held at The Block. Wyanga Aged Care, National Centre of Indigenous Excellence and the on Redfern Street
  • Seven public information sessions at the Redfern Town Hall. including Saturday mornings and evenings and with key individuals and consultants available for one-on-one discussions;
  • Revised FAQs during the exhibition process, responding to the collated questions received;
  • Feedback forms delivered to 4500 social housing dwellings as well as a feedback form being available online.

Over 8.00 people were involved in the street corner discussions and 422 feedback forms were received from social housing tenants.

The ability to engage with the residents in their own neighbourhoods also allowed for open dialogue about their daily life which provided additional information for HNSW practices and the further work being undertaken by RWA, including a Communities Facility Review for the area.

There was some criticism around the need for a longer exhibition time frame and the need for greater capacity building to enable more informed comment. These key issues are being taken into consideration for the next round of consultation accordingly. There is also a desire to see more detail in some of the plans that is normally associated with the exhibition of a detailed master plan.

RWA is keen to continue this “momentum” and has held two separate thank you BBQs to thank social housing residents for their feedback.

The overall approach was considered effective, with the RWA receiving positive feedback such as “Thank you for such an interesting, well presented exhibition at Redfern Town Hall yesterday. I particularly enjoyed the format that gave the opportunity to speak to so many people from Redfern, RWA and Housing. I learnt and gained more understanding yesterday on the details of the planning process than anytime in the past two years. Face to face definitely is a very constructive way to learn and to clarify planning issues”

The RWA and HNSW considers that the community consultation of the non-statutory exhibition process of the draft BEP 2 to have been effective in reaching a broad cross section of the community and for providing numerous opportunities for people. many of who would not necessarily attend public meetings or be represented by other organisations, to have their say.

The BEP 2 plan is available on the RWA website at www.redfernwaterloo.nsw.gov.au .

Source: OCR Scan of article from Planning Institute of NSW “New Planner” June 2011