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Preamble: Redfern-Waterloo: On the road to renewal

[This is the text from the above mentioned section of the RWA Redfern-Waterloo Built Environment Plan (Stage One) August 2006. Links to maps and illustrations have been included and details of the file size of the link also added to allow for easy navigation. - REDWatch]

The New South Wales Government established the Redfern-Waterloo Authority (RWA) on 17 January 2005, with the support of the major political parties. In doing so, the Government demonstrated an enhanced commitment to tackling the myriad of issues that are necessary to drive a successful program of urban renewal.

The Built Environment Plan, which is primarily designed to stimulate economic and social progress, has been finalised in August 2006 following an extensive period of community consultation. The Plan has been developed in the context of some significant advances having been made over the past one and half years, with the RWA’s urban renewal program now well underway.

Since the RWA’s commencement, the Government has directly facilitated the investment of nearly $300 million towards infrastructure development in Redfern-Waterloo. Of this amount, more than $76 million has been directly committed by the RWA itself. Some of the major infrastructure investment already committed includes:

  • $120 million to be invested by Sydney Broadcast Property in constructing a new 43,500 square metre state-of-the-art media centre at the Australian Technology Park (ATP) – in a deal negotiated by the RWA which will create 2000 permanent jobs.
  • $47.5 million being invested by the RWA in a new building currently under construction at the ATP to house National ICT Australia and the Defence, Science and Technology Organisation, with 600 permanent jobs being created.
  • $40 million being invested by Arts NSW to construct a new Contemporary Performing Arts Centre through adaptive reuse of heritage buildings at North Eveleigh – in conjunction with the RWA and RailCorp.
  • $35 million being invested by the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) in purchasing and transforming the former Redfern Public School into a new National Indigenous Development Centre – in a deal brokered by the RWA with the ILC and the NSW Department of Education and Training.
  • $16 million to be invested by RWA towards the provision of affordable housing for Aboriginal residents of Redfern-Waterloo.
  • $10 million to be invested by NSW Health in transforming the former Local Redfern Court House and Police Station into a major new community health facility – in an arrangement facilitated and supported by the RWA.
  • $6 million to be invested by the RWA and its subsidiary company ATP in constructing a new pedestrian and cycle link between North Eveleigh and the ATP.
  • $6 million being invested by RWA and ATP in new roads and infrastructure to facilitate the ATP’s future development.
  • $4.2 million invested by NSW Police in 2005 in establishing the new Redfern Police Station in the towers on Lawson Square, opposite Redfern Railway Station.
  • $0.75 million being invested by the RWA in developing a new education and training centre at North Eveleigh, which includes the Yaama Dhinawan Indigenous cuisine training enterprise.
  • $0.3 million to be invested by RWA to refurbish the former Murawina building in Eveleigh Street to support Indigenous enterprises and organisations. The RWA has established a partnership with GROW to undertake this refurbishment.
  • $0.25 million being invested by the RWA and RailCorp in a concept design study for the redevelopment of Redfern Railway Station.

The list does not include some significant private sector investment which is occurring in Redfern-Waterloo as a result of the enhanced commercial environment generated by the Government’s urban renewal initiatives and the release of the RWA’s draft Built Environment Plan in February this year; nor does it include the $52 million committed by the City of Sydney for infrastructure upgrades following the establishment of the RWA.

Redfern-Waterloo is on the road to social and economic revitalisation and the Built Environment Plan is a key driver in this most important process.

It is imperative that the local community is a major beneficiary of the urban renewal program and all of the RWA’s planning is being directed to this end. This is particularly the case with the more disadvantaged sections of the community, where unemployment and welfare dependency are major factors. As the Employment and Enterprise Plan states:

“The RWA’s employment and enterprise development strategy aims to directly challenge the area’s social and economic disadvantage by fostering jobs, educational and life opportunities and a higher standard of living. Wealth creation is seen as an antidote to welfare dependency.”

The Redfern-Waterloo Plan is being implemented in 2006 as part of the Government’s ten year strategy. The Plan is being developed in stages as it is intended to be a living document, which builds upon its earlier priorities and strategies, with community input as an ongoing feature. The Built Environment Plan component of the overall Redfern-Waterloo Plan represents part of Stage One of this process.

Redfern-Waterloo: On the road to renewal

The New South Wales Government established the Redfern-Waterloo Authority (RWA) on 17 January 2005, with the support of the major political parties. In doing so, the Government demonstrated an enhanced commitment to tackling the myriad of issues that are necessary to drive a successful program of urban renewal.

Redfern-Waterloo is a unique inner city area sited at the southern gateway of the Sydney Central Business District (CBD) with significant potential for revitalisation. Its physical attributes include its accessibility and infrastructure; proximity to educational and health facilities; central location within the Sydney CBD to Airport corridor; and the availability of under-utilised government land.

The revitalisation of the area through job growth is not inconsistent with the objectives of the NSW Government’s Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney because the Strategy does not identify Redfern as a population centre. The Strategy does however advocate the concentration of jobs and activity, as well as the provision of sufficiently zoned land for businesses in centres such as Redfern which are within the Sydney CBD to Airport corridor and in locations with high quality transport. This is reflected in the Built Environment Plan.

The area is characterised by cultural and ethnic diversity. As the traditional home of the Gadigal Clan of the Eora nation, Redfern is a centre of major significance to the Aboriginal community with a strong association to the area.

Despite some gentrification over the past decade, Redfern-Waterloo is less socio-economically diverse than the rest of Sydney and is characterised by a disproportionately high level of unemployment, public housing and social welfare dependency. Job growth and investment in the area offers opportunities to redress imbalances evidenced by the local community.

This Built Environment Plan (Stage One) proposes a strategic planning framework to facilitate revitalisation of the Redfern-Waterloo area and guide future development on strategic sites by setting the parameters for future development. It is intended to provide a holistic response to redevelopment opportunities, deliver sustainable outcomes and support a State Environmental Planning Policy that will provide a consolidated and consistent planning approach to the area which meets the objectives of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority Act.

The underlying concept for the Plan revolves around the creation of a town centre with an economic and civic heart focused around Redfern Railway Station and which is connected through pedestrian linkages to residential and business hubs at the Australian Technology Park, North Eveleigh, and Redfern and Regent Streets.

Fundamentally the Plan is aimed at ensuring that benefits gained from redevelopment and economic prosperity are shared by the whole community, especially local residents and businesses, by facilitating:

  • the provision of around 18,000 jobs
  • the construction of around 2,000 new dwellings that will provide greater housing choice, demographic and socio-economic mix and is supported by an affordable housing program
  • an upgraded Redfern Railway Station, civic square and public domain improvements promoting better amenity, safety and surveillance
  • the establishment of cultural and community facilities
  • improved opportunities for the establishment of Aboriginal enterprises and cultural facilities
  • high quality urban design and architecture.