The Glebe Society would like to thank Jamie Parker MP for attending a meeting organised by local residents to discuss Wesley Mission’s proposed plans for the redevelopment of RJ Williams Lodge. More than 70 residents attended this meeting.

This site has been vacant since 2010, following the death of a resident who fell from his balcony on the second floor of the then 72 place aged care facility. Wesley Mission chose not to proceed with repairs required to remedy safety issues, deciding instead to relocate the 64 current residents and close the facility.

RJ Williams meeting by Mark Stapleton
Some of the attendees at the public meeting on 18 February 2020, organised by Jamie Parker to discuss the proposed redevelopment of the RJ Williams Lodge (photo: Mark Stapleton)

Between February 2017 and May 2018, then President Allan Hogan wrote to Wesley Mission a number of times seeking clarification of Wesley’s intent with regard to the vacant building. (Glebe Society Bulletin 5/2018). No future plans were disclosed in any of this correspondence.

In October 2019, Wesley Mission announced plans to provide affordable housing on this site. Their promotional flyer described the development as ‘74 environmentally sustainable, self-contained units … to suit tenants looking for quality and convenience’. The flyer also noted ‘Wesley Mission wishes to strengthen its position as a good neighbour and is fully committed to an open, respectful relationship based on mutual trust’.

The DA for this proposal, lodged on 20 December 2019, noted these plans as ‘change of use of the existing building to a boarding house and associated alterations and additions’.

The plans themselves raised a number of issues for local residents and the broader community. Following their meeting, Jamie Parker summarised residents’ feedback as follows:

  • There is widespread support in the community for more quality affordable housing
  • The site is proposed to include 100 bedrooms (73 dwellings) with some of the rooms being well under 20 sq. m. (The site is proposed to provide 64 studio dwellings and 9 x 4 bedroom ‘family’ clusters. Of the 64 studios, 44 are between 15 and 16 sq. m, seven are 18 sq. m and the remaining 13 are between 21 and 25 sq. m.) This is an over intensification of the site which will provide inadequate accommodation for the tenants and lead to significant impacts on the local community including:
    • Insufficient on-site parking (no provision for private cars, visitors or loading)
    • Inadequate facilities for the management of garbage
    • Rooftop areas will have significant acoustic and overlooking impacts on neighbouring residents
    • Open walkways will have a significant acoustic and privacy impact on neighbouring residents
  • The development breaches the floor space ration standard for the area
  • The applicant presents the development as a property with a focus on women over 55. However, the Plan of Management fails to provide any targets let alone an enforceable guarantee that women over 55 or local people in housing stress will be serviced by this development
  • The developer should be seeking to reduce the impact of this building on the community and fix the existing issues with this building rather than perpetuating the mistakes of the past.

Once again, thank you Jamie for attending this meeting and providing this feedback.

View the Glebe Society’s submission to the City of Sydney on Wesley’s RJ Williams Lodge DA, lodged on 20 February 2020.

Jude Paul