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16 March 2006

RWA Act Amendment in Parliament / The Redfern Waterloo SEPP also needs comment / Some Reactions to the RWA BEP Plan / Community Picnic and BEP Information Day – Saturday 8th April / Ongoing discussion and Media on RWA Plan / Public Housing and Stage Two of the RWA’s BEP / Will Cabinet Please Come to Redfern? / City Of Sydney Plans / Where New City Train Lines May Go through Redfern / RWA announces More Aboriginal Building Jobs / RWA Make Some Human Services Plan Submissions Public / RWA requested to review FOI denial of Street Team Evaluation / South Sydney Herald Available on REDWatch site / REDWatch Monthly Meeting – 26th March 2006 Factory 2pm / Public Housing Next in RWA Sights / A Few Basic Figures on Redfern-Waterloo Public Housing

In this update


RWA Act Amendment in Parliament

The Redfern Waterloo SEPP also needs comment

Some Reactions to the RWA BEP Plan

Community Picnic and BEP Information Day – Saturday 8th April

Ongoing discussion and Media on RWA Plan

Public Housing and Stage Two of the RWA’s BEP

Will Cabinet Please Come to Redfern?

City Of Sydney Plans

Where New City Train Lines May Go through Redfern

RWA announces More Aboriginal Building Jobs

RWA Make Some Human Services Plan Submissions Public

RWA requested to review FOI denial of Street Team Evaluation

South Sydney Herald Available on REDWatch site

REDWatch Monthly Meeting – 26th March 2006 Factory 2pm

Public Housing Next in RWA Sights

A Few Basic Figures on Redfern-Waterloo Public Housing


Coming Events (entered on the REDWatch website)

RWA Act Amendment in Parliament

Minister Sartor has included some amendments to the RWA Act into the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment Bill currently before NSW Parliament. The Bill seeks to strengthen Dept of Planning’s control over various local government planning processes and has drawn condemnation from a range of councils and developers. The Liberal Party say they will vote against the Bill. The outcome will rest with the cross benches when debate resumes in the Legislative Council which is expected to 28th March.

The main changes proposed in the RWA Act would allow the Minister to delegate some of the consent authority functions he now holds under the Act to RWA staff. The Minister also wants to be relieved of the obligation to personally consult with the State Heritage Council as currently required under the RWA Act. He must do this before overriding the Heritage Act. The Minister wants this function to be delegated as “this is not a practical or efficient means of rejuvenating Redfern-Waterloo”.

Ultimate efficiency would see the RWA as both the developer and the consent authority with no external oversight role for the Minister. The amendments appear to move the RWA further in this direction. The Greens MP Sylvia Hale argues on the change that “The Redfern Waterloo Authority has been established to co-ordinate development in the area, including the acquisition, development and sale of public and private land. Indeed, the Authority is required to fund itself from development activity. The bill would see the Redfern Waterloo Authority becoming its own consent authority” with the “the role of ‘consultation’ with the Heritage Council [going] to the same body acting as the developer (the Redfern Waterloo Authority)”. The Minister argues that the changes proposed are minor.

The bill and debates can be accessed from the following links:

The Redfern Waterloo SEPP also needs comment

The Draft State Environmental Planning Policy [SEPP] (Major Projects) Amendment (Redfern-Waterloo) Policy 2006 is the document that will put the RWA’s Redfern Waterloo Built Environment Plan [BEP] into law. There are a number of differences between the RWA’s Draft BEP and the SEPP so to understand how the BEP will be implemented it is also important to have a look at the SEPP and its maps. Just two examples are:

  • The “civic space” that appears on the RWA station map does not appear as an area which has special zoning on the draft SEPP. The SEPP allows public space in the business core zone, but it does not guarantee it. In contrast at the top of Eveleigh Street the SEPP creates a recreation zone. In so doing it aims to zone some privately owned AHC land as permanent public space.
  • In the SEPP all of Marian Park is zoned as business core, and hence allowed to be built over, while the RWA map shows a pocket park remaining outside the area zoned for buildings.

Ultimately it is what is in the SEPP that determines what can be built. For example The RWA Draft Built Environment Plan doesn’t specify that the floor space ratios and maximum heights shown on the colour maps “applies only in relation to a project where the Minister has not, in an approval for a concept plan for the project, provided for the construction of a building that exceeds the height or floor space ratio restrictions, or both”. The RWA told us this is a standard provision but it is not mentioned in the RWA’s Draft Plan only in the SEPP.

The SEPP also spells out what are allowable uses for the different zonings. Under the proposed zonings we can not find areas zoned for trades and light industry, which will create employment opportunities for other than office type jobs. You can download the draft SEPP and its maps from .

Some Reactions to the RWA BEP Plan

Many of those attending Redfern Town Hall for the RWA’s Community Forum (still minus the Minister!) thought it was one of the most focused town hall meetings for years. Early in the meeting RWA CEO Robert Domm announced that the RWA was planning to ensure that Old Redfern School Oval would be retained as green space and that the RWA would look also at providing green space in North Eveleigh. He also committed himself to meeting with residents of the Watertower to discuss their concerns about the loss of green space in Marian Park which the plan shows as zoned for up to 18 storey buildings. The existing low level of open and green space in the area and the potential loss of even more of it was one of the focuses of the community forum and the REDWatch round table held on the following Tuesday.

The lack of a traffic plan was another area that generated a lot of concern. The RWA Plan does not yet address the regional traffic that dissects the area. It does not quantify nor propose how it will deal with all the extra traffic generated by development which is estimated to be similar in size to Chatswood. It also does not address the local transport needs of the community or the problems the area suffers from rat runs resulting from arterial traffic movements.

The absence of a plan for Redfern Station around which everything else revolves was also seen as a major failing. How do you assess the broader development around the station when the plan for the station is not yet done? The RWA assured the meeting that plans would allow for open space, traffic and the station, but these plans would not be available before the close of the public consultation.

The lack of best practice consultation processes has also received another run pointing out that the RWA consultation processes were not getting out to a lot of local people who will not come to meetings at the RWA offices. Some speakers said that the government has just bought back material that was earlier rejected by people during the RED Strategy.

Finally there was strong support shown at the meeting for the Pemulwuy project in spite of the RWA making it clear it was not supported by the government. RWA CEO said that according to the AHC website the AHC was going to work within the RWA’s reduced residential zoning for the Block. This was addressed a couple of days later at the REDWatch Round Table by Michael Mundine and Peter Valilis who explained that the AHC had to look at what was possible under the governments proposed rezoning, but that they remained committed to the 62 houses on the Block envisaged in the Pemulwuy project and would object to the proposed plan and to the way the Minister and the RWA was changing planning controls to try and stop their project.

Community Picnic and BEP Information Day – Saturday 8th April

The REDWatch Round table led to a group coming together to look at follow up action and they have proposed a community picnic on Saturday 8th April 2006 from 11am at Marian Park. Marian Park is one of the scarce bits of green space in Redfern Waterloo, that the RWA Plan currently proposes be replaced by a development of up to 18 storeys. The picnic will allow interested local residents to meet others concerned about the RWA Plan and will encourage people to make submissions regarding the Plan. Further information will be available in the near future – if you are interested in becoming involved in helping organise this event please contact Ben Spies-Butcher on 0414744758.

Another suggestion from the meeting was to respond to the RWA’s idealised artist impressions outside the station (Civic Space looking East (PDF 345 KB) Civic Space looking West (PDF 263 KB) with some alternative artist impressions of what six 18 storey towers near Redfern Station might look like or some other aspects of the RWA BEP. Please feel free put down your artistic impression of the changes for Redfern Waterloo and share it with other people on the day. If you would like to send it to we will also try to put some of the suggestions up on the REDWatch website.

Ongoing discussion and media on RWA Plan

Elizabeth Farrelly’s article The reality behind the Redfern plan: a boon for the big end of town prompted responses in Parliament from Kristina Keneally in a statement about Redfern Development and in the upper house from Jan Burnswoods. The comments were in response to Ms Farrelly’s description of Ms Keneally at the RWA media conference. Ms Keneally’s response however included some comments on the AHC’s plans for the Block which in turn elicited a strong response from the AHC Project Manager who says that the local MP has never visited the AHC nor been briefed about the AHC plans by them. The AHC statement can be seen at . Ms Keneally’s seat of Heffron will take over all of Redfern next state election with the exception of the Block and the area west of the railway line which will go into the seat of Marrickville currently held by Carmel Tebbutt.

Other recent articles on the BEP have included this article in the CPA’s The Guardian Redfern/Waterloo: Land grab plan announced - 8 March 2006 and Alex Walker’s article City of Sydney councillors air their concerns about the future of Redfern Waterloo - 8 March 2006. The South Sydney Herald ran a summary of the RWP and some comments in Built Environment Plan released: Is this future for Redfern and Waterloo? and in another article Cr Firth calls on Sartor to rethink Pemulwuy decision it looked at the support of Verity Firth and local churches for the Pemulwuy project. Finally Imre Salusinszky in The Australian  Battle for the streets – 13 March 2006 put together a feature article which managed to ignore many  key aspects of the project that do not support the Minister’s position on The Block. Unpublished letters by Michael Mundine and Geoff Turnbull in response to The Australian article can be found at 2006/Mar/13 Letters Sent To The Editor - The Australian.

Public Housing and Stage Two of the RWA’s BEP

With the RWA flagging that planning for stage two of the Built Environment Plan will start this year and include the revitalization of public housing, the increase in the local population and the reduction of the concentration of public housing there have been many questions raised about what this might entail. You can read here what the RWA BEP has to say about stage 2. At the foot of this email Geoff Turnbull has bought together some of the material available on the public record in Public Housing Next in RWA Sights as well as some statistics provided by the Department of Housing on the makeup of Redfern Waterloo Public Housing.

Will Cabinet Please Come to Redfern?

RWA CEO Robert Domm told the recent Community Forum that the decision not to support the Pemulwuy project was a cabinet decision. Our attention has been drawn to an article in The Glebe about a decision to hold a regional NSW cabinet meeting in Ashfield where local community groups and local MPs get to address cabinet about their area’s concerns. Given that cabinet is signing off on all these plans in Redfern Waterloo including not supporting Aboriginal Housing on the Block maybe it is time for a regional cabinet meeting in Redfern where cabinet ministers can listen directly to the local people about what they want.

Currently Redfern Waterloo has its own Minister but his job seems to be to only turn up in Redfern Waterloo in tightly controlled media events and announce things rather than get out to talk to a range of people.  or to hold and attend the four community forums he promised the community when the RWA was set up “to provide the Minister with advice on the broad strategic direction of the Redfern-Waterloo Plan and provides the community with a direct link to the Minister”.

City Of Sydney Plans

With so much happening with the RWA we often forget that we need also to focus on what the local Council is doing. Of importance at the moment is the Social Policy and Social Plan 2006-2010 which is currently on exhibition until 24 March 2006. You can see and hear details of what is proposed on the council’s website at .

Following on from councils surveys the city council is developing Local Action Plans (LAPs) with its communities to protect and improve the character and amenity of local neighbourhoods. Initial meetings are starting with local community groups and services to formulate the LAPs. REDWatch has been asked to be involved in the initial meeting for this area. More information on this Council strategy can be found at

Where New City Train Lines May Go through Redfern

A few weeks ago there was a media report about how the government had made reservations for two possible rail corridors under the city. We wondered about how this might affect Redfern and requested the maps from the RWA and Railcorp. We received the following Metropolitan Rail Expansion Program: Metro Pitt and Metro West indicative protection corridors, October 2005  (PDF 408kb). Page 3 shows where future rail infrastructure connected with Metro Pitt and Metro West may be placed under Redfern Waterloo.

RWA announces More Aboriginal Building Jobs

On March 2 Minister Sartor announced “26 indigenous jobseekers will start work this month on a $45 million project at the Australian Technology Park”. This is in addition to the 19 jobs already created under the RWA’s Redfern-Waterloo Jobs Compact at the $40 million Carriageworks redevelopment at North Eveleigh. The full text of the media release can be downloaded from the following link More Jobs for Redfern & Waterloo (pdf ~13kb).

RWA Make Some Human Services Plan Submissions Public

The RWA has posted ten of the submissions received during the Human Services Plan consultation. They note that this is not a complete list of submissions but only the ones they have been given permission to release. Higher up the web page with the link to the submissions the RWA say “28 written submissions were received from members of the public and organisations” on the Draft Human Services Plan. On these figures there are 18 submissions which have not been made public.

1.       Barnardos Australia

2.       City of Sydney Labor Councillors  (also on REDWatch Website)

3.       Consortium Redfern NGOs  (also on REDWatch Website)

4.       Elizabeth Rice  (also on REDWatch Website)

5.       Inner Sydney Regional Council

6.       NCOSS  (also on REDWatch Website)

7.       NSW Greens  (also on REDWatch Website)

8.       Redfern Legal Centre  (also on REDWatch Website)

9.       REDWatch  (also on REDWatch Website)

10.  The Settlement  (also on REDWatch Website)

Kristina Keneally's Submission on DHSP is not currently on the RWA website but it can be found on the REDWatch website as Kristina Keneally had earlier given REDWatch a copy of her submission to go on their website … That leaves seventeen.

RWA requested to review FOI denial of Street Team Evaluation

REDWatch has lodged their internal appeal to the RWA CEO regarding the RWA’s decision to claim cabinet in confidence status for the Redfern Waterloo Street Team Evaluation (RWST) on 21 February 2006. Initially the RWA were saying the release of the RWST Evaluation was delayed due to privacy issues and then they decided it would be denied on the basis of cabinet in confidence. Interestingly the Minister in a written response to a Question on Notice from Clover Moore on 1 March 2006 said “I am advised that: … An extensive evaluation was carried out on the Redfern-Waterloo Street Team. The results are currently being reviewed owing to privacy considerations prior to any release.” So maybe it’s not cabinet in confidence after all!

Those familiar with the operations of the RWST believe the evaluation will show the government imposed RWST model was seriously flawed and that the government should have paid greater attention to those with long term experience in working within the community. A lesson which the RWA needs to have learnt if its proposed imposition of a reorganisation of youth services in the area is not to suffer similar problems.

 South Sydney Herald Available on REDWatch site

With the Sydney Central Courier now on line it seemed a shame that the community paper that covers Redfern Waterloo, The South Sydney Herald was not also available on line. REDWatch has usually picked up key stories from the SSH and put them in the “In the Media” section of its website but now REDWatch has also added the latest edition of the paper onto their website. The latest paper is a 2.4MB PDF file so think twice about downloading it if you are on dialup. The latest issue of the South Sydney Herald can be found at

REDWatch Monthly Meeting – 26th March 2006 Factory 2pm

At the March REDWatch Meeting we will discuss the Draft Built Environment Plan and what can be done to get people to make submissions and take an active interest in issues raised. 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.

Public Housing Next in RWA Sights

The Redfern Waterloo Authority (RWA) has announced that in partnership with the Department of Housing (DoH), they will research the options for the revitalisation of public housing and the opportunities that may be created for enhanced availability of affordable housing in the area.

In November 2004 NSW cabinet documents, leaked to the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), revealed the government agenda for Redfern Waterloo included redevelopment of public housing. Immediately following the leak the RWA Minister denied any plans and provided assurances that all tenancies were safe. A special meeting was organised by Minister Sartor with public tenants in July 2005 to reassure public tenants that their tenancies’ were safe and that the RWA had no current plans.
In September 2005 the RWA announced that “reform of public housing is seen as a priority issue for the future Stage Two of the Redfern-Waterloo Plan”. The RWA Draft Built Environment Plan (BEP) confirms this direction, reiterating assurances that “there will be no cuts to the amount of public housing, current residents will not be disadvantaged and all public tenancies are secure”. Stage Two will “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.”  (BEP p.69)

Stage One of the RWA’s BEP is primarily focused on commercial development with planning for 18,000 jobs but only 4,000 more residents. The SMH cabinet documents talked of doubling the area’s population with 12,500 of this increase being private tenants in 6,300 apartments on 15.8 hectares of previously DoH land. This was to be made possible by the RWA changing the zonings so that 3 times the number of units could be built on the existing 23.4 hectares of DoH land. The funds from this development would allow the RWA / DoH over time to obtain new housing stock and renovate suitable existing housing stock to provide “revitalised” public housing for the DoH on about a third of the existing land. While the SMH talked about the high rise being under threat, it is more likely that lower density sites would be developed first and the high rise, with long economic life and good service access, would be retained.

We do not know if there is an existing cabinet decision regarding DoH land to be implemented or if the RWA just has broad guidelines. Minister Sartor’s main criticism of the AHC’s project is that they believe it perpetuates a concentration of high dependency housing. We are aware that the RWA’s position regarding the Block is based on a cabinet decision made around the time of the SMH document, so it is possible a similar decision regarding the area’s public housing exists. This seems consistent with the RWA’s aim to “reduce concentration of public housing” with “no cuts to the amount of public housing”.

The RWA says the redevelopment will also provide opportunities for “affordable housing” although what is meant by this is not yet clear. One of the RWA aims is to assist local unemployed people gain employment with building contactors and in other businesses. From July 2005 new DoH tenants may lose their housing entitlement as a result of gaining employment. If these tenants gain employment through the RWA’s employment plan, will they be evicted from DoH housing? If so, will they be given priority for newly created affordable housing and be able to remain in the area? REDWatch believes that the RWA may not yet understand the way their proposed employment solutions for the area interact with DoH and other departmental policy that create employment disincentives and poverty traps.

It should be noted that the Elizabeth Street re-development has been specifically excluded from the RWA’s ambit and remains with DoH. However we would expect the RWA to take a considerable interest in its progress as any problems will clearly have repercussions for the RWA’s subsequent developments. Both DoH and the RWA must find willing private partners for any of these plans to eventuate, which has been difficult elsewhere; although the desirability of inner-city real estate may assist them. 

It is clear that the RWA will start planning in 2006 for long term changes in Redfern Waterloo public housing. All those concerned about public and affordable housing should be looking for ways to ensure that the RWA plans work for the interest of public tenants and not just the interests of the NSW Government and the self funding RWA.

Geoff Turnbull - Redfern Eveleigh Darlington Waterloo Watch Group (REDWatch) - 7 March 2006

The REDWatch website contains a wide range of documents relating to government plans for Redfern-Waterloo

A Few Basic Figures on Redfern-Waterloo Public Housing

This information is provided by Housing NSW and is based a Redfern-Waterloo sub-set of Housing NSW figures similar to those used state wide for their annual report. 


Who lives here?
            Number             % of tenants      % in NSW PH   % in NSW All
Aged over 60                   na                   53%                  39%                  17%
Aged under 16               674                   11%                  25%                  22%
Single person                  na                   66%                  49%                  32%
Couple with children         75                     2%                   5%
Single parent families     425                   10%                  19%

Average Occupancy 1.45 people per property = 6017

How long do they live here?
                                    % of tenants      % in NSW PH
Lived here for more than 10 years            32%                  32 %
Lived here for more than 5 years              57%                  24%
Moved out last year                                  9%                 (Lower than Public Housing generally)


What is their source of income?

Earned income              7%
Centreline                      91%                  (28% Disability pension)

Average household income = $337 pw $17,500 pa

In Summary

• An older population • Fewer children • More single person households • A stable group of tenants • High proportion of people with a disability • Very low incomes

How do Housing NSW expect it will change?

• Proportion of single people approved for public housing has declined slightly and will continue

• And the proportion of people in two person households will increase - one parent plus child

• The age of the public housing population is trending upwards

• The proportion of people with a disability will increase

• Long-term trend over last decade for public housing to focus on people with special needs will continue



Public housing properties in Redfern-Waterloo

Redfern                         1604 properties              29% of all housing in Redfern Compared to 6% in NSW
Waterloo                       2536 properties              92% of all housing in Waterloo

House /Unit size            Bed sit 1 bed    2 bed    3 bed    3+ bed
Percentage of stock       9%       24%      52%      13%      2%

Homes in multi-unit properties not separately titled or serviced       90%

Properties are young and have a long life left - 55% built 1970s or later

Mismatch between housing size supply and tenant demand. Comparison of stock and waiting list.

Bedroom category          34% (Bed Sit & 1 bed)    53% (2 Bed)                  13% (3 Bed +)
Family Composition       54% (Singles)                42% (2-4 Persons)         4%  (4+ persons)


• To respond to the ageing population

• To continue to build the communities of Redfern and Waterloo

• To improve and sustain the accommodation

• To support people with mental health problems and their neighbours

• To address the mismatch between supply and demand

Compiled by Geoff Turnbull REDWatch email

This paper can be downloaded in from the REDWatch website at the following link Public Housing Next in RWA Sights (PDF 16Kb)

Other REDWatch papers dealing with the RWA Built Environment Plan can also be downloaded from the links below:

The Redfern Waterloo Plan as seen through the RED Strategy Looking Glass Download(PDF 27Kb)

Summary of the RWA Draft Built Environment Plan Download . (PDF 22 Kb)