But at a recent meeting of residents of Waterloo locals called for a plan that respected Aboriginal heritage and one that changed the rigid order of the 50-year-old estate into a more diverse precinct that was friendly and flowing in its movement patterns.
The NSW government’s plan seemed closer to these objectives as it had a series of public green spaces that flowed through the precinct and buildings had a variety of heights giving a more natural interpretation of landscape.
The key issue Ms Clover’s team emphasised was to avoid towers but in doing this they fell into a barracks-like rigid pattern of development with most buildings of a similar height all facing the undesirable east and west orientations.
The point residents raised at the public meeting is they would be looking across a narrow courtyard into the living room of the neighbours – wouldn’t it be better to be higher up with decent views across Sydney?
So we have a battle at Waterloo of styles between rigid colonial geometry or a more organic, Indigenous interpretation of the landscape. For the revitalisation of a social housing estate the rigid colonial control system is wrong.
The new vision must be about flowing space and a diversity of building types and heights. The City of Sydney planners are clearly wedded to the colonial town plan of rigid rows of barrack-like housing all of the same height.
The city’s planners are desperate to make sure there are no towers. Towers are seen as the enemy that casts excessive shadows. But well-located towers add variety and interest to the shape of a town and most people prefer the longer-distance views they get from living in a tower. Hopefully the flowing future with heights wins out over the rigid mono form of barrack-like housing.
Chris Johnson is the chief executive of the Urban Taskforce.