City News

Battle of Waterloo Station begins

BY JENNIFER LUU

Waterloo residents have welcomed the possibility of a metro station for the suburb at a community meeting on Thursday.

But the proposal tied to the station to upgrade social housing in the area was met with skepticism.

Community group REDWatch facilitated a heated community meeting on Thursday July 2, which saw residents raise varying opinions on the proposals.

Speakers at the meeting included representatives from Sydney Metro, UrbanGrowth NSW, City of Sydney Council and the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS).

Under the proposed Sydney Metro scheme, Transport for NSW (TfNSW) are considering either a station at Sydney University or Waterloo. Connected to the potential Waterloo Station is UrbanGrowth NSW’s proposal of high-density redevelopment on the current Waterloo public housing site.

At the meeting, there was cautious support of the public housing renewal project propositioned by UrbanGrowth.

Locals expressed anger about previous instances of planned revitalisation of the suburb which had never manifested.

But REDWatch spokesman Geoffrey Turnbull said he prefers this plan to others previously proposed, which involved removing a fifth of public housing units.

“The government is saying that there will be no loss of public housing in Waterloo,” Mr Turnbull said.

Residents voiced concerns over the projects and expressed a strong opposition towards the redevelopment of public housing estates, which would result in the temporary relocation of the residents.

“If you’re going to demolish those twin towers…you have a fight,” one resident warned.

The Sydney district director of FACS Paul O’Reilly also acknowledged future difficulties.

“We know how difficult the relocation of 200 people is. How hard would it be to relocate ten times that, potentially?” Mr O’Reilly said.

The meeting also highlighted community dissatisfaction with the public transport in the area, labelling it as unreliable and heavily congested.

Another resident said the two issues of housing and transport were inseparable because any increase in residential density would further gridlock roads leading into the suburb.

“This area’s already very congested, the buses run late here consistently because they can’t move on the roads,” they said.

Metro principal manager Brendon Baker said the new metro system would “relieve pressure on the existing network”.

Chippendale resident David Polkingon supported the idea of the metro.

“The main solution for Sydney’s growing congestion on the roads is improved public transport, and metro systems have been shown all around the world to be very effective people movers,” Mr Polkingon said.
Mr Turnbull emphasised the need for further community dialogue.

“We’ve got a range of different views within the community…we’ve just scratched the surface.”

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