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24 February 2006

Redfern Waterloo Street Team (RWST) Evaluation is Cabinet in Confidence says RWA / RWA CEO answers Estimates Committee questions / RWA Employment and Enterprise Plan Submissions Close 28th February 2006 / Have you planned to attend a BEP briefings or focus group? / From the RED Strategy to the Redfern Waterloo Plan / Minister makes it clear AHC is target in new Redfern Waterloo Plan / REDWatch Monthly Meeting – 26th February 2006 Factory 2pm / The Redfern Waterloo Plan as seen through the RED Strategy Looking Glass.

In this update


Redfern Waterloo Street Team (RWST) Evaluation is Cabinet in Confidence says RWA

RWA CEO answers Estimates Committee questions

RWA Employment and Enterprise Plan Submissions Close 28th February 2006

Have you planned to attend a BEP briefings or focus group?

From the RED Strategy to the Redfern Waterloo Plan

Minister makes it clear AHC is target in new Redfern Waterloo Plan

REDWatch Monthly Meeting – 26th February 2006 Factory 2pm

The Redfern Waterloo Plan as seen through the RED Strategy Looking Glass.


Redfern Waterloo Street Team (RWST) Evaluation is Cabinet in Confidence says RWA

Those who have been following our updates over the last couple of months will know there has been much interest in the RWST evaluation. Most recently the RWA told people that they would not release the report and that interested individuals would have to make an FOI request for it, which REDWatch did. The RWA has just denied that FOI request on the grounds of Cabinet in Confidence.

One of the documents the RWA specifically refused to release is Appendix 1 of the “Draft Report: Evaluation of the RWST RPR Consulting” October 2005 which was earlier supplied by RWA staff to service providers and others interested in the proposed amalgamation of youth services in the area.

The official letter to REDWatch states that the documents requested are exempt documents. The letter says: 

“A document is an exempt document:

a)       if it is a document that has been prepared for submission to Cabinet (whether or not it has been submitted); or
e)   if it contains matter the disclosure of which would disclose information concerning any deliberation or decision of Cabinet.”

The RWST evaluation has been referred to in Human Services meetings and in the Human Services Plan as providing a basis for the reorganisation of youth services in the area. As the report is being so heavily relied upon it should be made publicly available to services and residents.

There is also concern about what will happen with the RWST funds which youth services were told would be redirected to the new youth one stop shops. As reported previously the RWA has recently distanced itself from this statement. It is imperative that these resources continue to be used in addressing the youth issues of the area which will require additional funds if they are to successfully implement the service improvements in the RWA’s Human Services Plan.

Finally as this debate about the release of the RWST evaluation has dragged on people have been asking around to try and find out why the RWA has changed its stance and what it is that the government might be trying to hide. The rumours emerging, if true, would certainly be highly embarrassing for a government body trying to argue that innovative new government programmes can better deliver services that the existing human service agencies in the area.

RWA CEO answers Estimates Committee questions

RWA CEO Robert Domm appeared before General Purpose Standing Committee No. 4 on Wednesday 22 February 2006 and answered a broad range of budget estimates questions regarding the RWA, the BEP, the Block, the RWST, the ILC sale and other matters of interest to Redfern Waterloo watchers. The transcript of the evidence can be found starting at page 17 in the second section of the transcript at Transcript 22/02/2006 Supplementary hearing: Planning, Redfern Waterloo (PDF 169 Kb).

RWA Employment and Enterprise Plan Submissions Close 28th February 2006

Submissions for the RWA Draft Employment and Enterprise Plan close on 28th February 2006 so you only have a few more days to get your comments in to the RWA. REDWatch would be happy to post any submissions on its website that people may wish to share quickly with the rest of the community. Hopefully the RWA will post all submissions on the EE Plan as is being proposed for the completed Human Services Plan.

In the Estimates hearings (mentioned above) we were a little surprised to see that the interaction between the RWA employment plan and the new DoH rules did not appear to be well understood by the RWA. Hopefully some of the submissions will address this structural problem with the RWA EE Plan. As we understand it, if the EE Plan works and all employable people in public housing all get employment the new DoH rules will see many of these people pushed out of their housing and support networks as they would no longer meet DoH guidelines. This means that any plan which focuses primarily on employment created by developments on the RWA’s land can at best only be effective in the short term for an existing group of people. Present tenants would then be replaced by new unemployed people in need of the EE Plan, so that the Plan’s short term construction jobs will not deal with the ongoing consequences of DoH policy change.

Have you planned to attend a BEP briefings or focus group?

RWA information Sessions start next week with information sessions between 4pm and 5pm so plan to get along to a session and find out about the plans for Redfern Waterloo. Also you can put your name down to be involved in focus groups. Full details on how to find out about the plans and make your comments are provided below.

Find out what is being proposed for your community by reading the Draft Plan - request a mailed copy from the RWA by phoning the RWA’s office on 9202 9100 or emailing your postal details to and asking for them to mail you a copy. You can also download the sections of the document from the RWA website at (details of what is in each PDF file is available from ).

Attend an RWA Information Session and have the Plan explained and ask any questions – Information sessions will be held between 4pm and 5pm, Monday to Friday 27 February 2006 to 10 March 2006 at Redfern-Waterloo Authority Level 11,Tower 2, 1 Lawson Square, Redfern.

Be Involved in Focus groups and make your suggestions to the RWA - register your interest to participate in the RWA’s focus groups on the BE Plan by phoning 9202 9100 or emailing

Make a written Submission / Response to the Plan - Deadline: 5pm on Friday 14 April 2006 - mail to: Redfern-Waterloo Authority PO Box 3332 Redfern NSW 2016

Attend the RWA Built Environment Plan Community Forum - Saturday 4 March, 1pm – 3pm Redfern Town Hall 73 Pitt Street, Redfern

Spread the word about the BE Plan in your community its organisations and networks so people find out about it and have a chance to find out more and have their say.

Get involved in the local residents group REDWatch – REDWatch meets on the 4th Sunday of the Month (December excluded) at 2pm at the Factory Centre – for more information contact Geoff Turnbull on 9318 0824 or email .

From the RED Strategy to the Redfern Waterloo Plan

In the last update we suggested people might like to revisit some of the RED Strategy material in assessing what is in the RWA Plans for Redfern. For those who have not had time Geoff has put together an article below which looks at the emerging Redfern Waterloo Plan through the eyes of the RED Strategy consultations. The RED documents discussed can be accessed on the REDWatch website.

Minister makes it clear AHC is target in new Redfern Waterloo Plan

Minister Sartor took up part of the Opinion page in the SMH on Wednesday in a spirited explanation of how the RWA’s Built Environment Plan would make it impossible for the Aboriginal Housing Company to build its Pemulwuy project on the Block Symbolism cannot solve unemployment and social misery. The Sartor article followed a very similar opinion piece in the Australian the day before Ross Fitzgerald: Another time around the Block for urban revival .

With AHC CEO Michael Mundine out of Sydney this week for his brother’s funeral the only response published to date has come in a letter from Peter Valilis to the SMH Differ on Redfern - 24 February 2006.

What is worrying about Planning Minister Sartor’s article is that he is changing zoning to try and force the owners of the Block to abandon their plans.

In the BEP there are two areas both next to Redfern station, both are to be zoned “business zone – mixed use”. One has existing medium residential zoning and includes land owned by the AHC. It will have its residential floor space halved to 0.5:1. On the other side of the station is government owned land that has no existing zoning. It is equidistant from Redfern station and will be given a 1:1 residential ratio allowance.

If this was just about planning surely the 1:1 residential should stay in its current location and reduced residential occupancy would be applied to the existing non-residential area. This would not affect the Minister’s employment space or other aspects of his plan.

This is of course is not about allowing the planning system to assess projects on their merits. It is about changing the rules so one project can no longer be considered.

With an existing large landowner interested in developing their freehold in Redfern being frustrated at every turn it is probably not surprising that the RWA reports little interest from developers wanting to do their developments on RWA lands in Redfern-Waterloo.

REDWatch Monthly Meeting – 26th February 2006 Factory 2pm

The February Meeting of REDWatch will finalise REDWatch’s submission for the Draft Employment and Enterprise Plan and also discuss how REDWatch responds to the Built Environment Plan. In the second part of the meeting REDWatch will finalise its constitution and incorporation including electing office bearers..

Working groups have been set up to develop a response to the Draft EE Plan as well as considering the BE Plan. If you are interested in being involved in these groups contact Trevor Davies on 0400008338 for the Employment and Enterprise Plan or Geoff Turnbull on 9318 0824 for the Built Environment Plan or make comments by contacting

REDWatch is open to interested residents and friends of Redfern Eveleigh Darlington and Waterloo and everyone is welcome to come along and be involved in the discussion and to get involved in the group. REDWatch meets at The Factory, 67 Raglan Street Waterloo at 2pm.

The Redfern Waterloo Plan as seen through the RED Strategy Looking Glass.

The RWA has now released the Draft Built Environment Plan (Stage One) for consultation. This plan along with the Human Services Plan (Phase One but not named as such) and the Employment and Enterprise (which we hope is only stage one as there is much left unaddressed), make up the initial Redfern Waterloo Plan (RWP) required under the Redfern Waterloo Act that established the RWA.

We know from the documents that make up the RWP that there are four aspects of human services not yet incorporated into the human services plan. These are services for migrant communities, the aged, people with disabilities and homeless people. Plans for these are to join the plans for services for children and families, young people and Aboriginal people which were in the initial Human Services Plan. Health services seemed downplayed in the initial Plan and hopefully more will follow on this aspect in the second phase.

We also know that the Proposed Stage Two of the Built Environment Plan, subject to the Minister’s guarantees to public tenants, will add plans to “revitalise public housing stock, improve the associated public domain, reduce concentration of public housing, increase the local population to establish a more sustainable social mix [and] facilitate the provision of affordable housing, including a shared equity model of home ownership.” This work on public housing will add to all the above Plans in determining what will happen on all remaining NSW government land in Redfern-Waterloo.

We now have a reasonable idea of where the RWA is going with the RWP, so we can now look at how to evaluate it. The RWA in their Built Environment Plan (BEP) acknowledge the Plan draws on “earlier work and community consultation undertaken … as part of the Redfern, Eveleigh, Darlington and Waterloo (RED) Strategy in 2003” so we can go back to look at the outcomes of that consultation and compare these with the RWP now taking shape. 

Three RED Strategy documents provided the basis for consultants’ reports on the RED Strategy. These were - what the consultants said the community wanted during the RED Strategy consultation, the core principles agreed with the community and the major issues to be addressed (which were accepted by the RWPP Community Council and reported to the last RED Strategy Community Form in December 2003). The final document useful for comparison could be the SMH’s leaked cabinet documents which indicated the government’s thinking on the Redfern Waterloo Plan in October 2004 when they decided to establish the RWA but we have not gone into this in detail here.

Of the nine major RED issues identified in December 2003, three issues require much more work than is currently evident in the RWP. These areas are

  • reduce the impact of regional traffic
  • community transport
  • enhanced public domain

The SMH papers told us that the government had looked at a number of tunnel options to get the arterial traffic out of the Redfern Waterloo town centre and then recommended a pedestrian bridge from the station to Redfern Street. The RWA Built Environment Plan recognises regional traffic as a major problem that “physically dissects the Redfern Railway Station from the Redfern Town Centre” but it is unable to come up with a solution and concludes “the solution may require a more strategic response which takes into consideration broader metropolitan and regional traffic issues and may not be imminent”. (p15) The minimisation of “rat runs” impacting on the local area has also not been addressed.

Transport discussion in the BEP focuses on links to and from the station, but does not address the community issue of linkages for people who live in the area to the station and facilities like “Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital”, or to “regional and local open space”, the proximity of which the Plan says makes them “highly accessible” to Redfern Waterloo. In a community in which half the people do not have cars and transport services primarily pass through the area on their way to or from the city, local community transport becomes crucial for those that live here now as well as in the future. Some indicators of a successful linkage are whether you can get reasonably priced frozen peas and ice-cream home before they thaw on public transport or whether you can get to a hospital or open space in a reasonable period of time at reasonable cost if you are aged or infirmed.

The enhanced public domain gains a mention as needing much more work in large part due to the green space that has disappeared in the current draft RWP. The Redfern School oval which the RED people said should be retained as open space even if the school was sold off is not guaranteed on the current RWA proposed maps. The RWA CEO in evidence to Budget Estimates has recognised that “the way we have put the maps for the school site in this plan creates an incorrect impression that that sporting oval could be built over … so we intend to take those comments on board when we finalise this plan and clarify it.”

While it looks like there will be an oval at the old school site the map of the park next to the “Water Tower” in Rosehill Street that the RED Strategy was shown as “public open space” in their vision map of how Redfern Waterloo could look has also disappeared. The State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) shows it all zoned for buildings and the BEP shows only a small pocket park remaining next to buildings up to 5 and 18 storeys. The BEP makes no mention of this loss of public open space in an area which is recognised by both the RED consultants and the Council as having very low per capital open space. In addition the BEP makes no provision for additional open space other than the civic square in front of the station and the space which may be able to be fitted in around developments in the height versus Floor Space Ration (FSR) trade off.

Floor Space Ratios (FSR) are the proportion of floor space allowed compared to land area, so 2:1 indicates there can be twice as much floor space as land area (sites allowing mixed use will normally specify a maximum FSR for the site as well as a maximum residential FSR for the site). Height restrictions indicate the maximum allowable heights. Height and FSR interact so at a FSR of 2:1, a building of 4 storeys might only cover half the land area, depending on the design and other development requirements. In this way open space may be created around buildings but unless it is a development coving a large area public space created is usually small and not conducive to many active uses.

Enhanced public domain is not only about open space, it is also about community safety and the amenity of the streets we live in and walk down. Apart from Redfern and Regent Streets, nothing has been said about enhancing the village shopping strips or about the RWA’s investment into community safety so that the local people feel comfortable in getting around the area and visiting the planned new shopping strips. The RWA lack of involvement in the ongoing Redfern Waterloo Community Safety Taskforce has hardly been encouraging to those concerned about this aspect of the public domain.

The RED Strategy Major Issues that seem to have been picked up in the RWP are listed below although in some cases we will have to wait a while longer to see what is finally delivered:

  • redevelopment of Redfern Railway Station (Plan out later this year)
  • creation of pedestrian and bicycle linkages across railway lines
  • provision of affordable housing and no reduction in public housing
  • a revitalised town centre
  • increase in employment opportunities
  • the development of the area as a cultural precinct.

One major concern in the BEP is the omission of any articulated vision for the area. While a vision gets a mention in the document no vision is outlined. With the break up of the RED Strategy into three separate parts the BEP becomes primarily a planning document and the broader vision, principles and integration strategy fall between the cracks of the three plans.

If we go back to the RED Strategy Core Principles developed with the community you find that, of its seven Core Principles, the RWA Plan is strongest on three:

  • Develop a Sustainable Town Centre to Serve the RED Area
  • Capitalise on Redfern station's location in the RED area, infrastructure potential, and position in the Metropolitan rail system to support revitalisation of Redfern Station and Town Centre precincts
  • Optimise Social and Economic return from Government Land Holdings

The remaining four Core Principles are in need of much greater attention by the RWA. These are:

  • Provide a Safe and Activated Public Domain
  • Ensure Social Equity in Public Life
  • Foster Community Identity
  • Strengthen Community Cohesion

Each of these seven Core Principles identified in the RED consultation contained a number of detailed strategies to implement them and a detailed examination of the strategies associated with each principle shows a number of areas needing improvement. These are generally in line with the RED Major Issues previously mentioned.

These RED Strategy Core Principles arose from the feedback received by the RED consultants to the proposals initially floated by them. Many of the comments recorded in the RED second presentation as community feedback remain important issues and many are yet to be addressed by the RWA in its Redfern Waterloo Plan.

It is important to remember that in December 2003 the Premiers Department’s Redfern Waterloo Partnership Project promised the community that they would work on these proposals and then bring them back to the community for further consultation as a RED Strategy to address the issues raised during the consultation. The issuing of the Redfern Waterloo Plan in its various parts by the RWA is in effect the RED Strategy coming back to the community after a delay of two years. During the delay the government decided to change the implementing body from the local council to the RWA and to do this before they bought back a Redfern Waterloo Plan to the community.

Re-reading some of the RED Strategy documents which are available on the REDWatch website at provides a useful context for considering your response to the Redfern Waterloo Plan. It is of ongoing concern that the government has never released the Cox Richardson Report nor any of the other reports which the NSW Government Submission to the Inquiry into Issues relating to Redfern Waterloo says were produced as part of the RED Strategy. We are sure that these too would help inform the response to the Plan from the diverse communities within Redfern Waterloo that the Plan needs to satisfy.

Geoffrey Turnbull, REDWatch 24th February 2006.

Note: RED documents on the REDWatch site are available in text and as black and white images of the presentation slides. Colour images from the RED presentation have been added to the RWA maps section of the site at .