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REDWatch Co-ordination Group Report for 2013-2014

The proposals to change the planning law in NSW that took considerable time in 2012-13 continued into the 2013-14 year with submissions, petitions and working with groups like the Better Planning Network to try to get more workable proposals. The planning framework sets the context for many of the issues REDWatch has dealt with so we had some reflections on the planning system that we thought worthwhile sharing. While the legislation did not proceed, many of the changes it proposed are being introduced through changed policies and administrative procedures. Over the year REDWatch has worked closely with other organisations and in September 2014 was pleased to support the Charter for Good Planning produced by a range of peak groups concerned about planning and corruption.

The other broader change for the year was the announcement that UrbanGrowth NSW (UG), the successor of the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority (SMDA) (formally the Redfern Waterloo Authority (RWA)), would take over the development of the planning controls for the areas public housing redevelopment and for development along the Central to Eveleigh Transport Corridor. The government’s decision to revisit and try to upsize the planning controls at Eveleigh has been frustrating given all the time REDWatch and people in the community have put into earlier consultations about controls for this site.

Using the “world’s best practice community engagement” promise of the new planning system, REDWatch successfully influenced some of the early community engagement process with UG, but this has not been carried through and REDWatch has been very critical of how the community engagement has been handled during the first year of the project. In particular we have been concerned about a lack of communication from UG to the community and any form of wider community engagement in the early formation of the project.

Heritage continues to be a major concern and while Council has agreed to use its good offices to get the Heritage Taskforce participants together if the NSW Government does not, to date neither has happened. While the year saw the sign off of the ATP Conservation Management Plan, concerns remain about interpretation across the site as the site is broken up by sub-division and possible sale. Of particular concern is, that while we have been assured that fly throughs of the site showing the loss of key heritage buildings should not be taken literally, an updated version of the fly through in July 2014 still shows the removal of The New Locomotive Workshop, The Works Managers office, The Chief Mechanical Engineers Building, the Scientific Services Building, The Telecommunications Equipment Centre and The Paint Shop – all of which are listed as heritage items under the RWA’s Major Project SEPP.

After a couple of hectic years Housing NSW (HNSW) / Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) “consultations” on the Preliminary Master Plan (PMP) went quite. Instead the public housing redevelopment and sale focus moved to the Millers Point selloff and public housing at risk of Urban Activation Precinct developments. The indications are that UG will exhibit BEP2 controls, possibly in 2015 after the election and LAHC will look at development potential at that time, probably on a lot by lot basis rather than as an integrated development. The implications of the Millers Point sell off however puts all Inner City public housing at risk and increases the likelihood that the Government will also move to sell off other Inner City public housing to pay for the cost of running the public housing system. REDWatch has still not sighted the federally funded Preliminary Master Plan.

REDWatch continues to push for an improved co-operative mechanism between government departments to improve human services co-ordination for high needs people especially in public housing. The group established in 2012-13 has become focused on drug issues and at the end of 2013 the group stopped inviting community representatives to its meetings without explanation. REDWatch continues to push for improved human service co-ordination. Ideally we are looking for a model where departments respond to the on the ground problems experienced by residents and front line workers (both government and non-government).

REDWatch maintained a watching brief on Lift Redfern, with the promise of a lift yet to materialise – now promised in 2015! Of concern is further possible delay from UG proposals to build high rise over Redfern Station which may take time to become viable. Lift Redfern, of which REDWatch was a member, succesfully obtained documents about earlier planning for Redfern Station and some of the material discovered can be found on the REDWatch website.

The REDWatch website has continued to play a central role in making available information about important events, news and developments in Redfern and Waterloo. In 2013-4 REDWatch introduced a list to keep those with an interest in Central to Eveleigh informed. REDWatch also has been able to submit several submissions on government policy, based on the feedback from the community.

Geoff Turnbull continued to be the public contact point for REDWatch dealing with a range of inquiries from the media, students, agencies, residents and the general public looking for information about REDWatch or issues connected to the area. One of the important areas for the spokesperson is dealing with many media inquiries, providing background briefings on issues, talking to students, doing interviews and referring media to people who should be spoken to for a story. This helps to raise the issues of concern to REDWatch but not necessarily with it always being associated with REDWatch’s name. Geoff has also continued to write for the South Sydney Herald.

In 2013 Geoff started working for 3 days a week at Inner Sydney Regional Council for Social Development (ISRCSD) producing their publication Inner Sydney Voice. This reduced the time he had available for REDWatch activities and increased the load on others on the Co-ord Group although it did put some of REDWatch’s experience into ISRCSD and REDWatch has indirectly benefited from this.

REDWatch needs to either find new people to assist in undertaking some of the REDWatch workload or cut back on some of the activities we have undertaken in the past.

REDWatch office bearers in 2013-14 were Convenor - Michael Shreenan; Secretary – vacant; Spokesperson - Geoffrey Turnbull and Treasurer - Ross Smith. Together with Irene Doutney, Michael Chapman and Desley Hass they made up the REDWatch Co-ord Group. The Co-ord Group deals with the facilitation of meetings and forums, and with formulating and implementing REDWatch’s response to the issues that arise. It meets monthly but is also active in email discussion through the month as required. The Co-ord Group meetings are open to members and this is a good way to become more involved.

REDWatch has continued to take the initiative in discussions about the issues of concern to us by inviting key people to forums, meetings and roundtables on a wide variety of community issues. Below is a list of REDWatch meetings for the period of this report.


  • 4th July 2013 – Roundtable on NIMBYs
  • 1st August 2013 – Roundtable Density – Must it be Highrise
  • 2nd September 2013 – Federal Election Heffron Candidate’s Forum
  • 3th October 2013 – AGM & Roundtable The Elderly – The Overlooked Generations
  • 7th November 2013 - Open Round Table Night -
  • 12th December 2013 - End of Year Function - Alexandria Hotel
  • 6th February 2014 - Roundtable on Public Housing Inquiry
  • 6th March 2014 - Is Redfern Losing its Welcoming Spirit?
  • 3rd April 2014 - Roundtable on Implications of Millers Point for Redfern & Waterloo
  • 1st May 2014 - "Mind the Gaps" Roundtable
  • 5th June 2014 – Open mike
  • 3rd July 2014 - Central to Eveleigh
  • 7th August 2014 - The Economics of Development - 6pm
  • 4th September 2014 - “Population Dynamics” Workshop - 6pm


Geoff Turnbull on behalf of the REDWatch Co-ord Group