The council, which is responsible for assessing LAHC’s proposal, voted on Monday night to approve a revised plan of Waterloo South, comprising 3000 homes in medium-rise buildings and three towers.
That was instead of nine towers suggested by the corporation. The council’s plan also includes a wide central thoroughfare lined with trees and shops, new streets and two parks.
Mr Stokes has written to Housing Minister Melinda Pavey and Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore to demand that they work to break the deadlock by March 12. He warned he would ask Planning Department secretary Jim Betts to assess the project within 10 weeks if the two parties couldn’t reach an agreement.
“If we end up with a plan that no one’s going to deliver, then that’s not a plan at all. That’s a plan to do nothing, so clearly, and sometimes when there is planning failure, that’s when a government steps in to try and mediate it,” he said on Wednesday.
Mr Stokes didn’t want to reflect too much on the housing agency’s thinking, but said: “Maybe they thought ultimately, ‘you know, if we push our own way we’ll force the Planning Minister to step in and give us what we want’.”
“My message to LAHC is: no, that’s not what I intend to do.
“Certainly if LAHC believe that by me stepping in they’ll get exactly what they want, they are mistaken. Equally … it’s incumbent on the city to get to a conclusion, and they’ve demonstrated that they can’t do that.”
Ms Moore said it was “unfortunate it has come to this” but she welcomed the intervention “to force LAHC to respond to the city’s amended planning proposal for Waterloo South”.
“I also welcome the Minister’s call for LAHC to focus its efforts on finding a solution with the city and provide the Department of Planning with its full costing analysis,” she said.
“It is essential the state government delivers this project for the Waterloo community, and we stand ready to help deliver a positive outcome for the community.”
Mr Stokes’ appointee to the council’s Central Sydney Planning Committee, Dick Persson, a former senior public housing bureaucrat, admitted the city’s proposal was dense but said it was “vastly superior to the one submitted by LAHC” at a meeting this month.
NSW government architect Abbie Galvin said at the meeting the council’s proposal was “an extraordinary piece of work” that gave equal weight to the quality of the buildings and the public spaces.
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Angus Thompson is an Urban Affairs reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.
Megan Gorrey is the Urban Affairs reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.