City Hub

Remove wiggle room for developers: residents


A Waterloo community group has voiced concerns that social housing needs will not be met following a major housing development in the suburb, citing similar high profile developments in London which failed to meet their quota on public housing.

REDWatch community group has pleaded to the NSW Social Housing Minister Brad Hazzard to oversee contract negotiations in regards to the Waterloo Station development tender.

REDWatch organiser, Geoff Turnbull told City Hub it was important to “pin down” developers on the inclusion of affordable housing.

The Waterloo area was slated for major redevelopment when letters were slipped into the mailbox’s of the area’s social housing tenants, announcing that a metro rail line would go through the suburb.

The planned redevelopment will create more than 2000 apartments.

Following the 15-20 year redevelopment, private housing will take up 70 per cent of new homes.

According to the Minister,  some social housing tenants will have to relocate while the development begins, while others will be able to move straight into their homes.

Similar so called public private partnerships in London have eventuated with less social housing being built than initially proposed.

After winning a contract, developers had minimised their projected gain and maximised their potential cost to justify less social housing being built.

“The object of the exercise from our perspective would be to try and ensure that everything is pinned down at the beginning of this process,” Mr Turnbull said.

“We would want to see it very clearly spelled out as to what the arrangement was to be and what developers are expected to deliver. Not just in relation to the delivery but things like the quality of the build that work for long term,” he said.

He said the best way to do that was by approaching the Minister.

But that may prove more difficult than first anticipated.

Greens MP for Newtown Jenny Leong recently called for the government to give “straight answers” to social housing tenants.

“One of the biggest concerns at this point is that there are no straight answers from the Government,” Ms Leong told City Hub.

“The Minister keeps talking about trying to keep people ‘in the area’ – but he’s not making any solid commitments,” she said.

But a spokesperson for UrbanGrowth NSW assured City Hub that despite there being significant work to be done in the planning and redevelopment of the area, there will be no loss of the number of social dwellings in the area.

REDWatch’s concerns come just after their monthly meeting in Redfern, where last week they asked attendees to put forward their questions so they could follow up with Mr Hazzard.

Mr Hazzard was contacted for comment but did not respond in time for publication.

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