Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Proposed 'State Significant Precinct' at Riverwood

Minister for Social Housing, Brad Hazzard, recently announced a $3.4billion renewal of Riverwood in Sydney's south east, that will draw on the apparent success of the Washington Park project of Riverwood North. The announcement is reflected in this article from 'The St George and Sutherland Shire Leader' - 1600 new social and affordable homes to be mixed with private housing at Riverwood.

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The announcement says "The remaining 30.5 hectares of the Riverwood estate is being submitted as a State Significant Precinct (SSP), which will involve planning to identify all types of housing, community amenity, services and infrastructure needed for the local population."

State Significant Precinct's are a creature of planning law - specifically the State Environmental Planning Policy (State Specific Precincts) 2005. Determining an area to be a State Significant Precinct allows the NSW Government to override local government planning processes by either adjusting applicable Local Environmental Plans (as has happened with areas around Macquarie Park), or adjusting the SEPP to include zoning and planning controls within the document itself (as has happened with the Redfern-Waterloo area). More information about State Significant Precincts can be found in this document: here.

It is not clear which of the options will apply to the Riverwood site. However, in either case there is a process that needs to be followed and we understand this to be as good as underway. Responding to our enquiries, Minister Hazzard's office has confirmed that the Planning Minister has instructed the Department of Planning and Environment to provide the NSW Land and Housing Corporation - the Government entity that owns our public housing, and current owner of the Riverwood site - with an outline of what would be required to have the site considered a State Significant Precinct. The Land and Housing Corporation will then produce a submission, against which the matter will be considered. This will take some time, as it will involve a process of "consultation, design and planning".

It appears there will be opportunities for residents, the community and other stakeholders to have their say in the coming months. We can expect public exhibition of the resulting plans in the second quarter next year.

In the meantime, Minister Hazzard's announcement gives us a little more to go on. It says that “conservative estimates tell us we can get at least 1600 new social and affordable homes but there is a lot of planning and community consultation to do before we settle on final figures.” It also promises that "current residents in social housing will be able to continue to live in Riverwood, in the new housing. It will be two years before any resident will have to temporarily relocate to allow new building works to begin."

We can also expect involvement from the Community Housing sector in the renewal of Riverwood, and the management of any new social housing properties. SGCH, a Community Housing landlord that has worked with Government and the private sector on the Washington Park project, has noted Minister Hazzard's announcement in a recent newsletter (and a slightly reworded press release). CEO Scott Langford, said: “We very much look forward to having an input into the plans for the redevelopment and to seeing the next stage deliver housing that caters for the diverse needs of all people in our society.”

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