By ALLISON HORE
Plans proposed by Mirvac and John Holland for the Waterloo Metro over station development promise a sleek, modern precinct which would benefit the whole community. But local housing advocacy groups say the proposal is filled with “broken promises”.
The detailed plans for the $900 million Waterloo Metro Quarter were revealed in early November. The precinct will include a 17-storey office building with a capacity of up to 4000 workers, a 24-storey apartment building and a 25-storey student accommodation building set to be operated by Iglu.
The development falls on the 20-hectare Waterloo State Significant Precinct, bound by Botany Road, Cope Street, Raglan Street and Wellington Street, which has been identified for urban renewal.
“The Waterloo Metro Quarter will be an important hub with residents and office workers just a few minutes’ train ride to the CBD,” said Department of Planning executive director of key sites Anthea Sargeant.
With residences and offices in the precinct supported by a childcare center, retail laneways, dining and public open plazas for a range of community uses, Mirvac chief investment officer Brett Draffen said the project would provide better outcomes for the “whole community”
“By providing more options for people to work closer to home, our design gives careful consideration to supporting post-COVID-19 lifestyles and the needs of future generations,” he said.
“With more people choosing to work closer to home in lower density, green environments, Waterloo Metro Quarter is designed to unlock the value of the metro.”
Mirvac and John Holland said they had worked closely with local community groups to create the “place-making strategy” which supports its development proposal.
But the Waterloo Public Housing Action Group (WPHAG) said their plan is full of “broken promises”. Some differences WPHAG highlights between the 2018 Urbis Summary of Consultation Feedback and the preferred plan for the project include the number of homes being delivered, the percentage of those homes set aside for social and affordable housing and the amount of community space.
They said only one third of the number of homes promised and only half the promised community space will be delivered. WPHAG also noted two thirds of the development’s floor space would be set aside for commercial space and the Iglu student housing complex.
Under Mirvac’s plan, only 5 percent of the units in the towers will be affordable housing and 70 apartments would be set aside for social housing.
WPHAG told City Hub they question who the developer is actually considering when they say the project would benefit the community.
“Is it the community that currently lives there or will be there in the future,” a spokesperson said.
WPHAG said half of the development’s floor space going towards commercial use “will not be benefiting the predominantly elderly community that currently resides in and around Waterloo Public Housing Estate”. They also questioned the utility of a childcare center, part of the “community space” boasted by developers, which would only benefit working parents and children.
WPHAG questions why the NSW Government went through a lengthy and expensive community consultation process if they were not going to listen to what the community was calling for and instead “throw” the community’s wishes “into the bin” and change the plans “at the whim of the developer.”
“The community has called for more social housing, more aged care facilities, more community spaces, and more green space since the very beginning,” WPHAG said.
“These are the outcomes they are looking for, none of which is being delivered by this development.”
WPHAG said they haven’t yet conducted a large scale test of responses but have received messages on social media from residents expressing their “outrage” at the broken promises.
They urged members of the community who are concerned about the proposal to make a submission through the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s website
“We will remain vigilant to keep the government accountable for their promises and their actions, and make sure the outcomes promised to the community is realised when all of this is over.”
The Waterloo social housing estate, which is located next to the Metro precinct, is also facing a massive redevelopment which would see the 2000 existing social housing residences replaced with 6000, mostly privately owned, residences.
The Waterloo Metro Quarter project is scheduled to be completed in 2024 alongside the opening of the Sydney Metro City and Southwest line.
Public exhibition of the plans and submissions are open until Wednesday the 2nd of December.