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Preliminary Master Plan not to be made Public

Housing NSW have declined a REDWatch request that the Preliminary Masterplan be made public for community consultation before it is reported to the Federal Government by advising that "the preliminary masterplanning is an internal working document exploring options for Housing and Property Group’s major sites and is in a constant state of development". Housing NSW has also declined REDWatch's request to publicly release the HNSW Preliminary Masterplan progress reports to the Federal Government. Below you can see what REDWatch requested and why and how HNSW have responded. REDWatch wrote to HNSW when it became apparent HNSW had made no provision in their consultation to publicly exhibit their Preliminary Masterplan.

Correspondence from REDWatch to Nigel Sharpe -A/ Director, Project Development Housing & Property Group Department of Finance and Services

I write to follow up a number of matters regarding the HAF Preliminary Master Plan we have previously raised through Kathy Roil and in discussion with Greg Dowling.

Hopefully now after a few month’s work and successful community workshops in November the shape of the Masterplan, the issues and the process are a little clearer.

Firstly I would like to thank HNSW for suppling REDWatch with a copy of the HAF funding agreement. At the time of the receipt of this we did not press for the supply of the HAF project reports to the Commonwealth. Now that the December 2011 report is finalised we would like to renew our request for a copy of all the reports provided by HNSW to the Federal HAF Fund. This will help us better understand what work has been undertaken and reported to the Federal Government.

As you will be aware the SMDA have made public the details of the reports they are undertaking in relation to BEP2. They have made available details of the consultants doing the reports and in doing so they have asked for any input that the community wishes to make in terms of areas that should be covered in these studies. When we requested similar information on the HAF project earlier we were advised that rather than separate reports that the Masterplan would have specialist consultants writing chapters but that this had not been finalised. The Housing NSW - Redfern and Waterloo Preliminary Masterplanning - Areas of Responsibility earlier supplied did not detail out what studies / chapters were being done and only detailed Principal Consultants without allocating their areas of responsibility. Given that we are dealing with a Preliminary Masterplan, which by definition will not cover everything in a Masterplan, we would like to clarify precisely what is now planned to be covered and what is not. We have earlier supplied a list of what was promised at various times would be covered and what we want to now clarify is what will actually be covered.

We are also concerned that we can see nowhere in the schedule for the work done on the final preliminary Masterplan to be made available for community comment and feedback prior to it being signed off to the Federal funding body. We note an intention to present the Masterplan to the community in the second half of 2012 but also note there is no reference to exhibition. While we understand there is not a statutory requirement to exhibit the final Preliminary Masterplan we fail to understand how the Preliminary Masterplan can be said to have been the product of community consultation if the community do not get to see the final Masterplan and have the opportunity to comment on what has been proposed. We are particularly concerned given that this might be the only opportunity for community input before the interest of private partners are introduced for a broader Master Plan.

REDWatch is of the view that the non-statutory BEP2 exhibition, despite of its deficiencies, was extremely important in providing community comment on the proposal and in so doing it was instrumental in refining and improving aspects of proposal. It is one thing to seek community input about some aspects of the plans as they are drawn up but this needs to be followed by an opportunity to see what has been done with the input and the consultants work and to reality test and comment on areas covered in the draft plan. We are sure that such a process will both improve what is made available to Government for their consideration as well as improve community understanding of the proposal. We strongly urge you to make available a draft of the proposal and supporting studies for feedback prior to the Preliminary Masterplan being finalised for Government.

We also wish to discuss with HNSW the role the community can play in each of the subsequent steps as this project is refined and delivered. Community Engagement and input should not end in this project when the HAF Preliminary Masterplan comes to its end. The community engagement that has been built up needs to continue for the life of the broader project. I also needs to cover a broad range of issues not covered in the Masterplan discussions to date.

REDWatch appreciated the opportunity to discuss the project with Greg Dowling and feels it would be useful to have a follow up meeting with Greg and HNSW staff. However on this occasion it would be helpful if we could get clarification of the matters raised above prior to such a discussion so we can use the meeting to explore some of the issues in the Masterplan that have not been the subject of community consultation to date.

REDWatch at its meeting on March 1st we will be having a round table discussion on Community Facilities, which we have been advised by the SMDA are now included in the Social Impact Assessment Scoping rather than proceeding with the earlier standalone report. We are also arranging a planning 101 Planning for Residents public workshop with Prof Peter Phibbs on 13 March to help educate people about basic planning.

I await your response to these issues and I would be happy to clarify any of the issues raised further if required.

Geoffrey Turnbull - Spokesperson - REDWatch

Correspondence from Nigel Sharpe to REDWatch A/ Director, Project Development Housing & Property Group Department of Finance and Services

Thank you for your email of 22 February and apologies for taking longer than planned to get back to you.

We have received strong responses from the broad community to the various engagement events that have been staged since last August; this information has been very useful in informing our work. I congratulate REDWatch on also helping to build community capacity through your initiative with Professor Phibbs.

You may be aware we have a number of further community engagement activities scheduled for March, culminating in the design workshops on the 21st and 28th.

The SMDA are advancing their work under State Environmental Planning Policy (Urban Renewal) 2010; the formulation of a planning framework and development controls being the targeted outcome. It is understood that the SMDA studies and planning framework will be submitted to the DP&I with recommendations to the Minister. We note your close liaison with the SMDA which is appropriate as it is the outcomes of their work that will determine future directions for Redfern and Waterloo.

We are liaising with the SMDA through our own work. However, the preliminary masterplanning is an internal working document exploring options for Housing and Property Group’s major sites and is in a constant state of development; it does not represent a final position. Further, it is subject to amended scope and revision reflecting normal masterplanning practices and is not suitable for sporadic release.

We understand the outcomes of the SMDA’s work will be placed on public exhibition for comment, it is therefore important that our work, which has no formal status, is not confused with theirs, which will.

As per normal planning processes, formal proposals for our sites will follow the establishment of controls, with associated opportunities for the community to make submissions thereon.

I am happy for Greg Dowling to discuss this further with you.

The reports you refer to that Housing and Property Group submits to the Commonwealth as required under our agreement are undertakings on the meeting of milestones and general project progression; we do not provide professional reports or working documents.

I am away until 10 April. If you have any queries in the interim please contact Josh Brandon in my absence

Nigel Sharpe

A/ Director, Project Development
Housing & Property Group
Department of Finance and Services