Battle for Waterloo – Shelter NSW cannot support the proposal

Shelter NSW has recently made a submission on the Waterloo South Proposal – a proposal that would see a vastly denser precinct of over 3,000 dwellings on (current) public land with just 28.2% social housing dwellings and 7.5% affordable rental dwellings. This proposal could see as few as 100 additional social and 227 affordable housing dwellings delivered over the predicted decade of its development.

The proposed development is on NSW public land, and home to over a thousand public housing tenants and a long-standing Aboriginal community. As such, we believe the NSW Government has the responsibility and opportunity to build an exemplar community – one where people from all walks of life, cultures, ages and incomes can prosper; supported by a network of social, government and public services and facilities; living in well-built and designed homes, buildings and public spaces. This vision we contend, is worthy of direct Government investment, innovative thinking and whole-of-government planning rather than the narrow zero-sum game of ‘financial feasibility’.

Given the massive disruption to current tenants, the cost of managing and advancing the proposal and the loss of a major public land asset, we suggest that the proposal fails to stack up.
On this basis Shelter NSW cannot support the proposal. 

View across the new park – image via City of Sydney planning proposal

We call on the NSW Government to review its Waterloo South proposal to:

  1. increase its commitment to social and affordable housing to: one third social housing, one third affordable rental housing and one third private housing, commensurate with the current and growing demand for social housing and to support key community, public and social sector workers (nurses, teachers, police, paramedics, social workers, legal officers including from local Aboriginal services) to remain living in the area.
  2. commit at least 10% of social and affordable housing to the Aboriginal community.
  3. commit to demonstrating a superior environmental performance in the redeveloped estate.
  4. apply a more innovative commercial, funding and tendering model to the development of this site, reducing the need to sell a large tract of valuable public land to private developers and enabling the involvement of the community housing sector.
  5. reconfirm how a future estate of this density can, initially and over time, support a vulnerable social housing community by commissioning a Social Impact Assessment (and risk mitigation plan) as part of the planning proposal. And, in the case where the risks are high and or unmitigated, be prepared to adopt a lower density for the site.
  6. develop, implement and fund a Human Services Plan spanning current relocation, post development and beyond.

The exhibition period closed on April 29. We extend our thanks to our network of members and associates, friends and allies of the Waterloo Community for joining us in making submissions. See here for our full submission.