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Development body turns one

Redfern-Waterloo Authority's first birthday greeted with mixed reviews. Report Alexandra Walker (SydneyCentral Courier 25th January 2006 page 3)

After a contentious birth, the State Government body charged with overseeing redevelopment in the Redfern-Waterloo area has just celebrated its first birthday.

The Redfern-Waterloo Authority (RWA) was established 12 months ago and tasked with the long-term revitalisation of the inner Sydney suburbs.

So far the authority has revealed two parts of its three-part plan for the area –the human services component was approved late last year, while the employment and enterprise plan is currently on public exhibition.

The remaining section, which deals with the built environment, is expected to be available for public comment early this year.

Tony Larkings, president of the Redfern Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, described the authority's first year as one of "consolidation".

Geoff Turnbull from the community group REDWatch said it would be difficult to judge the authority's performance until the built environment plan was released.

However, Mr Turnbull said that the authority appeared to have started addressing some major issues in the area.

"The jury is still out as to how this is going to go," Mr Turnbull said. "The initial indications have been positive in terms of them doing something, but not so positive in terms of their preparedness to work with the community in doing that."

Among the issues to plague the authority in its first year was the redevelopment of the Block. Negotiations between the Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC), which owns The Block, and the RWA stalled last year, after the two organisations were unable to agree on the number of dwellings that should be built at the site.

However, AHC chief executive Mick Mundine has revealed that late last year he had a private meeting with Redfern Waterloo Minister Frank Sartor.

"We had a pretty good talk," Mr Mundine said.

However, no solution has been reached.

Mr Sartor, who has not publicly commented on the meeting with Mr Mundine, congratulated the authority on an "outstanding first year".

In its first year, the RWA also negotiated for the Indigenous Land Corporation to invest $25 million to develop the former Redfern Public School site.

It has also assumed direct management of the Australian Technology Park, where it hopes to create 2000 new jobs over the next three years.