Riverwood Public Estate Redevelopment – Shelter NSW (again) says it can’t support

In the past we’ve asked this of the Communities Plus 70:30 public estate development approach: is it dead buried and cremated or a lurking zombie? Unfortunately we think it may be the latter, though less potent than previously.

The NSW Government is proposing to rezone and redevelop a small section of the Riverwood Estate (‘the site’) to create a mix of social, affordable and private housing. This proposal substantially revises an earlier 2022 proposal taking in the entire 30 hectare public housing site. That redevelopment would have seen public land fully sold and 1,100 public housing dwellings demolished to create 3,900 social and private dwellings over the next 15 to 20 years. Consistent with the Communities Plus model applied at the time, 30% of the dwellings (just 1,170 social homes) would have resulted. In 2022 Shelter NSW formally noted our objection to that proposal.

This revised and scaled-down 2024 proposal would see approximately 60 current public housing dwellings replaced by 420 homes where 50% is intended to be social and affordable housing in a range of housing types. In some respects this is an improvement and the scale is more amenable to true tenant co-design and engagement. However we remain concerned about the delivery of more public and community housing on the site.

Waiting lists and wait times for social housing are large and unabating. Across South Western Sydney there are currently over 10,621 households approved and waiting for as long as ten years for social housing. Excluding applications from singles or couples, 6,500 of those households likely include children. Many are living with the twin stresses of unaffordable rents and overcrowding.
We appreciate that the NSW Government is challenged to meet the demand for this important government service and infrastructure but ask this: where will the large required increases in both public and community housing (social housing) for all sort of households (including large families) come from if not from redeveloped sites like this at the Riverwood Public Housing Estate?
The proposed development is on NSW public land within a broader estate, home to hundreds of public housing tenants and a long-standing diverse, multicultural community.  We commend the NSW Government for committing itself to delivering an exemplar redevelopment but encourage a number of changes and explicit commitments. For these reasons, Shelter NSW is unable to support the proposal in its current form.
For more information: