City News

Thousands of letters sent against Waterloo public housing proposal

Waterloo

Calls to save the Waterloo South housing estate have been renewed. Photo: Daniel Lo Surdo.

By PATRICK MCKENZIE

A community campaign against a proposal from the NSW government to privatise over 70 per cent of public housing at the Waterloo South Estate has picked up steam, with over 2,700 letters having been sent opposing plans to redevelop the area with hundreds of private apartments.

Led by grassroots group Action For Public Housing, the efforts mark the latest episode in a lengthy period of conflict around the redevelopment of the site, which was first announced in 2015.

The City of Sydney and the NSW Government’s Land and Housing Corporation have been at odds over specifics for the envisioned redevelopment, specifically around the amount of affordable and public housing stock, and building heights.

Action For Public Housing’s campaign was conducted during the NSW government’s public exhibition period for the redevelopment, which was from March 3 to April 29.

While the government stated that the redevelopment will “help deliver new social housing, affordable housing, and private homes with access to improved community facilities, shops and transport,” campaigners have said that this would mean the eviction of hundreds of tenants during construction and that the units that would be constructed will be insufficient.

“The 847 social housing units proposed for Waterloo South is far too low for a site of this size and development of this scale,” Action For Public Housing said in their submission.

“By the time the development is complete, there will be many more [people who need public housing]. Any development of public land should prioritise public housing.”

Ahead of the end of the exhibition period on Friday, City Greens councillor Sylvie Ellsmore spoke out in support of the campaign. 

“The Waterloo Estate is the inner city’s largest public housing community. The government has carved the public land into sections, with plans for it to be bulldozed and mostly sold off to private development,” Cr Ellsmore said on Thursday.

“A measly 12 per cent public housing and 7 per cent affordable housing is planned, and most of the land sold to private developers.”

Council reaffirms support for Waterloo public housing

The City considered the issue at a meeting on April 12, passing an extensive motion opposed only by Liberal councillors Lyndon Gannon and Shauna Jarrett.

Clover Moore. Photo: Facebook.

Among an assortment of other resolutions, council noted its advocacy for 30 per cent of residential floor area to be social housing and 20 per cent to be affordable housing at the eventual site, and that in excess of 10 per cent of the affordable housing should be for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

​Lord mayor Clover Moore said that the current plan amounted to a “tragedy”. 

“We’ve got a housing crisis in Sydney, and if we can’t have social housing on publicly owned sites, where are we going to have it?” Cr Moore said.

Cr Moore will also write to Minister for Planning and Homes Anthony John Roberts reaffirming the City’s call for significant increases in social and affordable housing in Waterloo, and for the state government to establish clear targets for social and affordable housing in the City.

“The government is relying on confusion and lack of engagement to get their way. They are pretending they need to flog off the land to ‘renew’ the public housing stock, but in reality, they are helping private developers make millions in profit through handing over public land,” Cr Ellsmore said.

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