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Three 20-plus storey towers to sit around new Waterloo metro station

Sydney Morning Herald, 31 May 2018
Seven hundred apartments will be built on a large block around a new rail station in inner-Sydney Waterloo, government documents show. The Waterloo “Metro Quarter” proposal by the government’s UrbanGrowth Development Corporation and Sydney Metro, made available on Wednesday, includes four residential towers of 29, 25, 23 and 14 storeys.

Much of the development would occur at the same time as construction of the train station, which will form part of a new metro line connecting a new route under the central business district with the existing Bankstown Line.

The chief executive officer at UrbanGrowth, Barry Mann, said the three taller towers needed to be seen in the context of the area: there would be a rail station directly underground, Redfern Station a short walk away, while the block would be divided with roads and pathways.

“The scale of it is not overly dense I don’t think,” said Mr Mann.

“It’s a logical place to put more housing for the people of Sydney, and more social housing.”

Construction of the rail station and some of the buildings, including commercial and community buildings, would start in 2021, with some opening a year later. The rail line is to open in 2024. The government intends for the residential development to be finished by about 2025.

The possibility of developing apartments, along with redeveloping the social housing properties in the area, was the reason the then Baird government chose to build a new metro station at Waterloo rather than a stop at Sydney University.

But replacing the existing social housing buildings will take longer than the development being co-ordinated by UrbanGrowth at and adjacent to the metro station. Land and Housing Corporation, which is co-ordinating the redevelopment of the social housing estate at Waterloo, has said that would be a 15-20 year project.

Of the 700 apartments to be built around the new metro station, Mr Mann said it was expected that around 10 per cent would be government-owned social housing dwellings.

These could cater for tenants in the existing social housing blocks to move into when those buildings are torn down and replaced.

Up to another 70 apartments would be let as “affordable housing”, available to low-middle income earners. The proposed “Metro Quarter” sits on 1.9ha of government-owned land.

The City of Sydney mayor, Clover Moore, has previously reacted with alarm to broad proposals for the redevelopment of Waterloo. Since then, the Planning Minister, Anthony Roberts, invited Cr Moore and council staff to discuss the scheme.

A City of Sydney spokesman said the council welcomed the government’s commitment to a metro station at Waterloo.

“The metro station precinct has the potential to provide a greater focus on public transport including rail, buses and cycling, footpath upgrades, street trees, local shopping, and space for support services to be enjoyed by Waterloo residents and workers now and in the future,” the spokesman said.

UrbanGrowth’s Mr Mann said the size of the proposed towers did not represent a large change to the current environment. At 29 storeys, the tallest new tower would be slightly shorter than the 32-storey Matavai and Turanga social housing towers nearby.

These towers are proposed to be demolished. The government has said that it will retain 2000 social housing dwellings in Waterloo, but also build thousands of private dwellings in the area.