Tweet
                                               

Battle of Waterloo as UrbanGrowth and City of Sydney trade blows on density

Central to Eveleigh precincts map

UPDATED: A battle is brewing between state government urban transformation agency UrbanGrowth NSW and the City of Sydney over projected densities in part of the Central to Eveleigh redevelopment.

A 19-hectare site in Waterloo is at the centre of the controversy following a report by City of Sydney chief executive Monica Barone tabled at a council meeting on Monday night, based on publicly available information.

The report said UrbanGrowth was proposing residential densities of over 700 people per hectare (or 70,000 per square kilometre) on the site, which was “unprecedented” in Australia and rare internationally.

“UrbanGrowth suggest they will provide 7000 new dwellings, including replacing the 2000 social housing dwellings with community facilities and some retail and work space on the 19-hectare estate. Based on these simple numbers, the proposed average residential density is over 700 people per hectare (70,000 people per square kilometre),” it said.

The city is concerned that this level of density would adversely impact amenity, and lead to insufficient open space, building overshadowing, removal of tree canopy and the inability to meet minimum apartment design standards.

A City of Sydney spokesman told The Fifth Estate density was not something the city shied away from – pointing to Green Square – however the plans as they stood went far beyond “density done well”.

“The existing public domain, including parks and streets, will be intensely impacted and the new development will require significant investment to support amenity and recreation including the provision of large new, areas of open space and high quality community infrastructure,” the report said.

“We are concerned that development at this intensity will mean that developers won’t be able to meet current standards in the NSW Government’s own Apartment Design Guide, which includes important amenity provisions for sunlight and natural cross-ventilation.”

UrbanGrowth deny projections

A spokesman for UrbanGrowth told The Fifth Estate it was unaware of where the City of Sydney figures came from and it was too early to provide final land use breakdowns of the precinct densities.

In a letter to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, in response to the paper’s story on Monday’s council meeting, UrbanGrowth chief executive David Pitchford said the council’s figures did not “reconcile with the design envelope and density levels we are proposing”.

“We have identified the potential for around 26,000 additional people across precincts of government-owned land in the whole Central, Redfern Station, Eveleigh and Waterloo area over the next 15-20 years. Any suggestion that we are not also considering future amenity in our work would be misrepresentative,” he said.

“The work to date on the Waterloo Estate renewal indicates that overall density would be similar to Green Square town centre, with the benefit of a ‘next generation’ Metro rail station, open space and community facilities to support it.”

Devil is in the detail

Graham Jahn, City of Sydney’s director of city planning, development & transport, told The Fifth Estate UrbanGrowth had been muddying the waters by using a different measure of density to make the area seem less dense.

UrbanGrowth, he said, was reporting “active density” figures, which included people who would be in the area during the day, including those associated with commercial and retail uses, and dividing the number by the total floor space.

This was a figure generally used by transport planners and was not the figure that should be used to judge residential density, which was the issue at hand concerning council, he said.

He said the documents produced by UrbanGrowth “never used the word ‘residential’ and the fine print says numbers stated include jobs”.

“What they are doing is not dealing with the issues we’ve raised.” It was “comparing apples with oranges”.

“There is very little hard information out there but what they have announced is that there will be 7000 dwellings on 19 hectares on the Waterloo Estate.

“So you easily calculate 368 dwellings per ha.”

Assuming around two people per dwelling, that equated to about 700 people per ha, he said.

“We have no idea how many retail jobs are on that site or office jobs because that’s not announced. We raised a concern purely around the residential numbers they announced on the Waterloo Estate.”

Mr Jahn said UrbanGrowth had chosen to compare the Waterloo precinct to Green Square which was 278 ha for the larger urban renewal area with a Town Square of 17 ha.  The residential dwelling density over the Town Centre area is 4000 dwellings, or 235 dwellings per ha.

To go from Green Square’s 235 dwellings per ha to 368 per ha at Waterloo was a “quantum leap”, he said.

Why it’s important

Why the issue was important, Mr Jahn said, was because of the minimum standards of amenity considered important, such as privacy, separation of buildings, solar access, cross ventilation and footprint.

On commercial and retail building there was no market failure that required those minimum standards.

“Why we are concerned is that it’s being oversold in expectations created in government that they can achieve the normal quality outcomes that are expected in all residential development in the state with these densities”.

On the need to create density around transport nodes, Mr Jahn said, “not at any price”.

“You want parks to have at least 50 per cent solar access in winter – the sort of standards that have created the upper limit.

A spokesman from UrbanGrowth responded to Mr Jahn’s comments by saying it was “too early to have an exact number as this will be refined over 18 months of detailed masterplanning informed by expert studies and community and stakeholder consultation that will involve the City.”

– With Tina Perinotto

Below is an edited text of a memorandum by the chief executive of City of Sydney, Monica Barrone, dated 16 MAY 2016

ITEM 4.3 CENTRAL TO EVELEIGH UPDATE – URBANGROWTH NSW

FILE NO: S124424

MEMORANDUM BY THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

To Council:

The City has spent the last 10 years developing and implementing Sustainable Sydney

2030 based on significant community and industry stakeholder engagement. It was a

key step in the statutory planning process that resulted in Sydney LEP 2012 and DCP

2012 and the continuing private sector investment that places the City at the forefront

of quality housing supply and delivering new jobs in NSW.

Our planning framework has a clearly articulated community agreed rationale best

demonstrated through urban renewal projects at the Ashmore Estate, Harold Park,

Green Square Town Centre and the ongoing renewal in the CBD.

UrbanGrowth NSW is charged by the NSW Government to be a facilitator of key

development projects across the state and Sydney Metropolitan area where there are

significant market barriers.

UrbanGrowth’s primary objective is to enable the private sector to deliver homes,

workplaces, facilities and community places needed for NSW citizens to enjoy a high

quality of life and to concentrate on areas where market and/or regulatory barriers are

preventing otherwise desirable private sector investment. They are not a statutory

planning authority, a role which currently lies with local councils and the NSW

Department of Planning and Environment.

This report summarises the City’s significant concern about the preparation of the

planning and urban design outcomes of UrbanGrowth’s Central to Eveleigh

Transformation Strategy. We have used publicly available information to set out the

planning and development implications of the NSW Government’s plan to renew

Waterloo in association with a new Metro station.

Of note is the proposed density for the redeveloped social housing estate at Waterloo

that the NSW Government has said will become a mixed development of private,

affordable and social housing.

Using information that UrbanGrowth has publicly released it seems that the proposed

average residential density for the site is over 700 people per hectare (70,000 people

per square kilometre).

Pyrmont, which is currently the densest area in Australia, has, on average, 14,000

people per square kilometre. When it is complete, the larger Green Square area, at

22,000 people per square kilometre, will become the densest area in Australia. There

are smaller pockets such as the ACI site at 36,000 people per square kilometre.

UrbanGrowth are proposing over 70,000 people per square kilometre for Waterloo.

Development at this density over this 19 hectare area is unprecedented in Australia

and rare internationally. The existing public domain, including parks and streets, will

be intensely impacted and the new development will require significant investment to

support amenity and recreation including the provision of large new, areas of open

space and high quality community infrastructure.

We are concerned that development at this intensity will mean that developers won’t

be able to meet current standards in the NSW Government’s own Apartment Design

Guide, which includes important amenity provisions for sunlight and natural crossventilation.

The City also understands that UrbanGrowth is planning to rezone a large part of the

surrounding area – beyond the scope of the proposed Central to Eveleigh

redevelopment and beyond the scope of their authority.

A map published by UrbanGrowth shows a study area boundary that includes a

number of conservation areas including parts of Redfern, Surry Hills, Chippendale and

Alexandria. Currently, the strategic planning authority for the majority of this land is the

City of Sydney Council excluding any State Significant Development sites already in

place.

Intensifying residential development across this area could risk the market growth of

high value businesses and sectors important to the future of Sydney’s economy.

Despite the fact that these significant changes have not been put to the public, detailed

planning and design continues to forge ahead. We are concerned that basic principles

will be agreed by the NSW Cabinet before the City or the community has had a chance

to fully understand their impacts.

It is important to emphasise that despite the Memorandum of Understanding between

the City and UrbanGrowth there have been significant issues around how much

information UrbanGrowth has shared with the City in the following three key areas:

  1. the scope and purpose of the Central to Eveleigh Urban Transformation Strategy, referred to as the Central to Eveleigh Strategy;
  2. the reference design of the renewal of the government-owned Waterloo Estate and the adjacent recently acquired Waterloo Metro station site; and
  3. the degree to which the future Waterloo Metro Station should be funded by the rezoning and the potential increased development that may result in a catchment area yet to be disclosed around the Waterloo station catchment.

The potential scope and scale of the Central to Eveleigh precinct redevelopment poses

significant concern for the City of Sydney in terms of the level of physical and social

infrastructure and services that will be required to support such a concentrated

increase of the resident and worker population.

1. Scope and Purpose of Central to Eveleigh Urban Transformation Strategy.

The map in Figure 1 produced and published by UrbanGrowth defines a Study Area

covering 560 hectares within the Sydney LGA. It clearly identifies the precincts of

government-owned land which will be the focus of the forthcoming Urban

Transformation Strategy.

What is not clear is how many, if any, other yet to be identified government-owned

sites within the study area are being considered for renewal and how much privatelyowned

land currently within the Sydney Local Environmental Plan 2012 may be

identified for rezoning to increase the scale and density of development.

(Note. The map in Figure 1 can be found in the Business Paper for the meeting of Council on

16 May 2016 – Item 4.3.)

The study area boundary (shown above) is Crown Street, Surry Hills to Goulburn

Street, along Goulburn Street through the southern part of the CBD to Harris Street

and Wentworth Park, and takes in all of Ultimo, Chippendale, Darlington to Newtown

and then to Ashmore street in Erskineville, through to McEvoy Street and along Phillip

Street and back to Crown Street. It includes a number of conservation areas including

but not limited to parts of Redfern, Surry Hills, Chippendale and Alexandria.

One of the issues arising, is the message this boundary signals to developers and land

owners, let alone the residents and broader community that live and work within the

boundary.

Figure 2 (below and enlarged for clarity on the following page) suggests the strategic

planning outcome UrbanGrowth are seeking even though they are not a strategic

planning authority. Currently, the strategic planning authority for the majority of this

land is the City of Sydney Council excluding the State Significant Development sites

already in place.

This image has been shown in UrbanGrowth public presentations and on their website

to notionally indicate the extent of density and potential height and scale of future

development that could be expected in the study area on both public and private land

outside of the key government-owned precincts identified in Figure 1. The illustration

usefully indicates UrbanGrowth’s thinking, showing new development of up to 8

storeys in the blue coloured blocks, 9-17 storeys in the yellow coloured blocks and 18-

32 storeys in the orange coloured blocks.

UrbanGrowth are proposing to progress to the urban transformation strategy delivery

framework stage (previously known as a master plan) in 2016. Within the study area

along an increase in residents from 52,000 (existing) to a range from 81,000 to

108,000, and an increase in workers from 78,000 (existing) to range from 92,000 to

103,000 with seven new neighbourhoods is anticipated.

(Note. The map in Figure 2 can be found in the Business Paper for the meeting of Council on

16 May 2016 – Item 4.3.)

(Note. The map in Figure 2 enlarged can be found in the Business Paper for the meeting of

Council on 16 May 2016 – Item 4.3.)

There appears to include possible significant redevelopment along the Botany Road

corridor, along Redfern Street towards Redfern Park, Regent Street, through

Chippendale, over the railway tracks between Redfern and Central stations, and up

towards the CBD including the Goulburn Street Parking Station and the Centennial

Plaza site. Of course, there may be additional development considered beyond the

coloured areas shown.

The public release of these illustrations has resulted in the City being approached by

a landowner seeking rezoning to double their height and floor space purely on the basis

of their land relationship to the investigation area boundary. This is prior to formal

investigative work being done to determine to what extent rezoning could or should

occur within the area and before any contributions framework is in place – an essential

driver for the study.

Advised by City staff of this, UrbanGrowth added a notice on their website noting that

illustrations “do not constitute current or future rezoning proposals and should not be

interpreted as such unless specifically noted”. However, it this is unlikely to tame

speculative rezoning requests coming in as experienced in other areas.

Our recent Economic, Cultural and Start Up strategies and action plans highlight the

City’s understanding of the importance of emerging industry clusters in the Central to

Eveleigh Precinct. There must be integrated strategic objectives underpinning the

identification of any sites that may seem capable of increased residential development

or other uses. The area in question has experienced significant metropolitan scale jobs

growth in high value industries in a low development scenario which could be displaced

in a high residential yield scenario, with the risk of weakening productive output that

the market is driving and is important for Sydney’s future.

2. Waterloo Estate

UrbanGrowth is the developer of the Waterloo Estate. It would appear that the NSW

government-owned estate is priority development influenced by the new Metro railway

station. UrbanGrowth suggest they will provide 7,000 new dwellings, including

replacing the 2,000 social housing dwellings, with community facilities and some retail

and work space on the 19 ha estate. Based on these simple numbers, the proposed

average residential density is over 700 people per hectare (70,000 people per square

kilometre).

It is worth comparing that to Pyrmont, which is currently the densest area in Australia

with 14,000 people per square kilometre. When it is complete Green Square, at 22,000

people per square kilometre will become the densest area in Australia. What

UrbanGrowth are proposing is 70,000 people per square kilometre.

In the international context, this density over a similar sized area is rare. London has

no areas of the size of Waterloo at this density. New York and Paris have only a few.

Neighbourhoods of this density are found in parts of Hong Kong, but not in Singapore.

Given available public information we expect to see as many as ten or more buildings

over 30 stories on the Waterloo Estate with others up to 20 storeys. Development at

this intensity (more than 5 times the average density of Pyrmont Ultimo) on the

Waterloo Estate could set expectations beyond ‘density done well’ and beyond the

capacity of future developers to meet the objectives of the NSW Government’s own

Apartment Design Guide.

The underlying approach is a housing mix of 70:30 meaning 70% private housing and

affordable housing and 30% social housing, as outlined in the NSW Government’s

Community Plus program. This supportable approach however, does not have to be

contained within the confined area of the existing estate in order to improve urban

amenity.

The City is primarily concerned of possible outcomes such as:

(a) insufficient open space and streets suitable for a very high intensity of use;

(b) apartments unable to meet the amenity standards, including sunlight and natural

cross-ventilation as outlined in the Apartment Design Guide and which other

developers must abide by;

(c) likely winter overshadowing to existing residents and open spaces in surrounding

neighbourhoods; and

(d) extensive removal of existing mature tree canopy throughout the Waterloo Estate

due to excessive building footprints.

3. Waterloo Metro Rail Station

Catchment land which benefits from the new Waterloo Station is proposed to be

investigated for increased development to make a financial contribution to partly fund

the rail station (in addition to local contributions). We understand that the boundary for

a more discrete area around the future Waterloo station is currently under investigation

as a State Infrastructure Contribution (SIC) area.

Any investigation area should exclude heritage items and conservation areas. In

addition any development around heritage items and conservation areas should

provide an appropriate transition similar to the City’s approach in the Ashmore and

Rosebery precincts.

Traffic and congestion

The area experiences considerable traffic congestion and to date the City has not been

given access to any of Transport for NSW’s traffic modelling. It is also clear that key

intersections and transport interchange are performing poorly and that before any

additional urban renewal areas are added to those already identified and underway,

traffic modelling is made public and funded solutions are identified and provided for.

Other key infrastructure provisions should also include:

  • the upgrade of Redfern Railway station to meet accessibility standards, provide a new pedestrian crossing of the rail corridor and address pedestrian and cycling access and end of trip facilities;
  • open space, in particular land area large enough to support active open space;
  • streets, plazas, and other public areas;
  • supporting community facilities and social infrastructure; and
  • sustainability initiatives, such as improved energy and water efficiency andurban ecology.

The City has produced extensive infrastructure plans to support the delivery of high

density urban renewal in the Ashmore and Green Square areas in consultation with

community and industry stakeholders. Through these processes the City has

developed a thorough understanding of planning, funding and supporting delivery of

state and local infrastructure that is key to successful and liveable urban renewal

precincts. We recommend the City leads the appropriate studies and provision of

infrastructure in consultation with other agencies and the Department.

4. Waterloo Station Precinct Investigation

In relation to points 2 and 3, the Department of Planning and Environment have

proposed that the City work with NSW Government agencies on a ‘Waterloo Station

Precinct Investigation’ process, and have suggested that Terms of Reference be

discussed in the near future to cover the Waterloo Estate, Redfern Estate and Botany

Road block; and private landholdings leading to a rezoning process by the Department

as a State Significant Precinct. The Guidelines for this new kind of State Significant

development category were recently released by the Department.

The draft proposal is for the government-owned lands including the Waterloo and

Redfern public housing estates and the Waterloo Station block on Botany Road be

identified as State Significant Precincts with planning led by UrbanGrowth, supported

by the City and assessed by the Department of Planning. The privately-owned lands

would be investigated as a Priority Precinct led by the Department of Planning,

supported by the City and by UrbanGrowth, with final determination on rezoning

proposals made by the Minister. Typically, State Significant Development switches off

the City’s planning controls and heritage referrals.

North and South Eveleigh

In November 2015, UrbanGrowth put forward a revised proposal for the North Eveleigh

site that increased the Gross Floor Area (GFA) from 51,000sqm to 62,568 to allow for

more apartments (from between 700-750 to approximately 800 units), increasing the

building heights from 8 to 12-storeys to 16-20 storeys; to maintaining the heritage listed

Clothing Store for retail and community uses and allowing a maximum of 531 parking

spaces.

The City’s submission to the North Eveleigh preliminary consultation recommended

that development comply with the NSW Government’s Apartment Design Guide (ADG)

and the City of Sydney DCP2012; that the City should be the consent authority for

future development; that 12% of all dwellings at North Eveleigh are affordable housing

consistent with the 2008 Concept Plan approval; that parking rates be reviewed to

deliver the sustainability outcomes identified in UrbanGrowth’s own strategy report;

and UrbanGrowth should work closely with the City to deliver parks, streets and

community spaces that can be maintained within the City’s existing networks

There has been limited information regarding the South Eveleigh area, however we

understand that the scale of development will likely be up to 18-20 storeys, providing

“a diverse range of apartment buildings is possible with taller residential buildings

adjacent to the rail corridor and lower buildings on the precinct edges to provide a

transition to the existing neighbourhood”.

Conclusion

The current role of UrbanGrowth seems to be both the Government’s strategic

planners, input (and sharing with the Department of Planning in part) setting the

renewal principles and development standards as well as the Government’s developer,

needing to maximise the development and financial opportunities.

This dual role presents serious concerns as to the accountable and transparency as

well as who is protecting the public interest. City of Sydney has remained steadfast in

applying high standards to the redevelopment of all our urban renewal areas and that

adequate social and physical infrastructure is in place to support our new communities.

Despite being assured of a new way of planning and delivering urban renewal by

UrbanGrowth NSW, what is apparent is that the typical ‘growth centre’ approach is also

being applied to renewal of the inner city sites. The problem is that the Central to

Eveleigh Precinct, Bays Precinct and New Parramatta Road areas are not blank

canvases, like the paddocks on the fringes. They contain existing communities, with

existing infrastructure and existing demand on services and the future consequences

of this current governance and planning approaches are of significant concern not only

for the City of Sydney, but also for our existing and future residents, workers and

visitors.

The City is at the forefront of driving housing and jobs growth in NSW (we have the

largest housing growth and jobs growth output in NSW), and we have a strong record

for transparent and rigorous planning and design, delivering density done well on

several key urban renewal precincts.

The City undertakes strategic planning under the guidance of the Central Sydney

Planning Committee, which has both Council and NSW Government representation.

Together, the City and the Central Sydney Planning Committee are best placed to lead

and oversee the strategic planning and plan-making process for private land.

RECOMMENDATION

It is resolved that Council:

(A) note that the Central Sydney Planning Committee and the City are the current

planning authority for much of the investigation land and are best placed to lead

strategic planning for urban renewal on non-government land in the study area

for the Central to Eveleigh Urban Transformation Strategy;

(B) continue its strategic planning role in the Central to Eveleigh study area, with

guidance by the Central Sydney Planning Committee; and

(C) request that the Chief Executive Officer write to the Secretary of the Department

of Planning and Environment:

(a) advising that the City will commence planning studies, consultation and

financial analysis to understand the capacity for urban renewal on the nongovernment

land in the Central to Eveleigh study area, informed by the

following considerations;

(i) the area of land that will benefit from the new station;

(ii) maintaining heritage conservation areas and heritage items;

8

(iii) supporting employment growth in emerging industry clusters;

(iv) improvements to walking and cycling infrastructure;

(v) apartment design that meets the amenity standards of the Apartment

Design Guide and protects residents from the noise and pollution of

busy roads; and

(vi) a scale of development and mix of uses that supports a liveable and

walkable neighbourhood; and

(b) noting that the draft Central to Eveleigh Urban Transformation Strategy or

study area definition should avoid developer speculation and should not

contain recommendations for urban renewal which pre-empt the findings

of the City’s strategic planning work in the study area.

MONICA BARONE

Chief Executive Officer

Moved by the Chair (the Lord Mayor), seconded by Councillor Green –

It is resolved that Council:

(A) note that the Central Sydney Planning Committee and the City are the current

planning authority for much of the investigation land and are best placed to lead

strategic planning for urban renewal on non-government land in the study area

for the Central to Eveleigh Urban Transformation Strategy;

(B) continue its strategic planning role in the Central to Eveleigh study area, with

guidance by the Central Sydney Planning Committee;

(C) request that the Chief Executive Officer write to the Secretary of the Department

of Planning and Environment to express serious concern that:

(i) no area of the city could sustain a density of 70,000 people per square

kilometre, especially Waterloo with its large social housing community;

(ii) it would seem these proposals are being driven by NSW Treasury and the

Finance Ministry to maximise the return to the NSW Government and not

by proper planning processes or concern about the future wellbeing of the

community;

(iii) if these proposals were to go ahead, the NSW Government and

UrbanGrowth will destroy the inner city and condemn people living in the

area to substandard living conditions not seen in most developed cities.

There would be more than 50% of winter overshadowing in parks and

surrounding residential areas and development would not meet the

Government’s own guidelines for apartment design, including standards

for solar access and cross ventilation;

(iv) intensifying residential development to this extent risks displacing the finegrain,

high quality businesses driving the new economy so important to the

State and national economies; and

(v) the proposed massively increased density will result in the loss of all or

most existing trees in the area;

(D) strongly reject these proposals and call on the NSW Planning Minister and

UrbanGrowth to:

(i) go back to the drawing board;

(ii) reduce the extent and stated purpose of the Investigation Area;

(iii) remove Conservation Areas and heritage listed sites from any proposed

Investigation Area;

(iv) outline how they will protect the growth of high value businesses and

sectors in the Investigation Area;

(v) ensure all Conservation Areas have formal transitions in scale immediately

outside the boundary of the Conservation Areas – not within them;

(vi) ensure any rezoning is led by the City of Sydney and driven by “density

done well” principles, the NSW Apartment Design Guide and not by a predetermined

contribution; and

(vii) provide affordable housing, high quality community infrastructure and

adequate open space as required by the NSW Government’s own

guidelines, in the early stages of any new development; and

(E) ask the Chief Executive Officer to prepare and deliver an urgent and effective

communications program to inform people about what is proposed for the Central

to Eveleigh precinct, including the preparation of visuals and videos, flyers,

advertising and public meetings.

Carried unanimously.

More Articles on this Topic