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A Christmas wish: urban leadership

By Paul Costigan - 16 December 2015 5

 

Kingston-P1020129When Jon Stanhope commented on his disappointment – or was it frustration – with the lack of the ACT Government’s achievement in delivering on social housing, it struck a note with anyone who likewise considers that the LDA/directorate is focused on land sales at the expense of urban development and issues such as social housing.

I am sure Canberra citizens appreciate that those in treasury and finance are constantly seeking ways and developing policies to see the funds being raised and spent effectively. Likewise, residents expect our government to continue to enhance the urban environments.

It is this latter expectation that recent ACT governments have failed to address.

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At present one directorate and minister oversee both urban development and finances/treasury. These two fundamental government operations need to be split from each and to be located within totally separate ministerial portfolios and departments.

Having these two important functions under the leadership of two separate ministers would mean that those within the urban development portfolio would have to argue their case with treasury to deliver enhancements to Canberra’s urban environments.

Within the present arrangements the case for 21st century quality and sustainable urban development loses out to the priority for land sales. This need to raise money displaces all other priorities within this complex portfolio.

There have been far too many instances in recent years whereby the ‘community engagement unit’ or ‘urban renewal taskforce’ of the LDA/directorate has issued marketing spin to justify why there is need to make yet another intrusion into the suburban fabric enjoyed by citizens.

The latest disturbance, which has surfaced within Franklin over a new development proposal, will be yet another round of stress and upset to be foisted upon residents who in this case have other aspirations for the land in question.

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It seems that there are talking points issued for all of our politicians and aspiring candidates on any topic related to urban development. Politicians of all colour avoid the essence of the issues raised and instead consistently turn their responses to promoting ‘choice’ and ‘mix-use developments’ and the need to in-fill established suburbs.

These talking points ignore the fact that Canberra has always had a range of housing choices and that mix-use developments have been becoming commonplace in Canberra’s recent history.

The intensification of suburbs has now been underway for decades. The issue has not been about the residential intensification and choice but about quality design and appropriate locations and styles of such developments.

demolish-01Our politicians (I am looking at all of you) use distracting, superficial and boring statements to avoid addressing the need for innovative urban development policies and actions that are about being honest with residents and about enhancing our cherished urban environments

This Dickson resident has a few Christmas wishes for the urban development in Canberra for 2016.

xmas-P1080671A big one is that a local politician or two will dump the suffocating and mindless talking points and commit to engaging with locals to bring about positive changes as to how the residential infill is being delivered across all our suburbs.

Let’s have far more good design, loads of greenery and enhancements to the biodiversity.

And as for those politicians who won’t commit to this vision for Canberra – bah humbug to you and all your mates!

What’s Your opinion?


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5 Responses to
A Christmas wish: urban leadership
tooltime 7:22 pm 19 Dec 15

I can tell you, from the inside, there are good people working within TAMS maintaining median strips and public parks & other spaces. Unfortunately, any good idea or innovation is pretty much ignored or killed off by their bumbling senior managers. This in turn creates that vicious government employee feedback loop of ignorance, frustration and then apathy/helplessness. They can only play the hand they are given too – the expression “you can’t polish a turd” springs to mind.

yellowredme 11:42 am 18 Dec 15

I live on the edge of Central Belconnen and agree we need more greenery to create little microclimates, also cant work out why developments are built on the edge of busy roads without noise reduction measures. After renting for a while in Canberra I have lived in more than a few nice rentals that unfortunately were impacted by roaring traffic/lacked privacy. I lived in London for a while and found more quiet nooks to dine/walk/sit than urban spaces in Canberra. We have so much space here that is not used/designed well and unfortunately have to use cars too much. I don’t understand why in Belconnen public spaces (besides the lake) are sparse, sterile and desolate, too much plain concrete for a place that has a burgeoning population of people in apartments built/being built that need spaces that foster healthy, diverse communities and businesses that are sustainable. The plantings around the new Belconnen interchange were poorly designed and are full of weeds/have washed away and there is little life in Belconnen at night. I would say other parts of Canberra have similar problems.

dungfungus 11:09 am 18 Dec 15

miz said :

Totally agree with your views about greenery in particular. I find it astounding that so many politicians who claim to ascribe to climate change do not seem to understand the enormous benefits on the ‘look and feel’ (literally!) of encouraging well-chosen deciduous trees and plantings in our gardens, parks and reserves. Where are the most desirable suburbs in Canberra? Why, the ones with established gardens of a decent size and a good proportion of green space, which were planted when people knew about this stuff. Ie, the inner north and south. Whereas shoving loads of cramped housing into a small space is simply creating a massive heat bank. We need far better planning, with the inclusion of more urban forests to temper our temperature extremes into the future.

I’m with you on all those points.
We got by without air con very well when our houses were surrounded by greenery.
I often wonder if the hot winds from the north west are getting hotter because the loss of massive amounts of greenery from land-clearing is no longer tempering those winds.

Nilrem 9:53 am 18 Dec 15

miz said :

Totally agree with your views about greenery in particular. I find it astounding that so many politicians who claim to ascribe to climate change do not seem to understand the enormous benefits on the ‘look and feel’ (literally!) of encouraging well-chosen deciduous trees and plantings in our gardens, parks and reserves. Where are the most desirable suburbs in Canberra? Why, the ones with established gardens of a decent size and a good proportion of green space, which were planted when people knew about this stuff. Ie, the inner north and south. Whereas shoving loads of cramped housing into a small space is simply creating a massive heat bank. We need far better planning, with the inclusion of more urban forests to temper our temperature extremes into the future.

Isn’t this why the new sub divisions are condemned to bake? No room for any trees on those tiny blocks + Macmansions, so the only shade will be from the street trees. And the street trees will struggle because everyone parks on the nature strips…

miz 7:49 am 18 Dec 15

Totally agree with your views about greenery in particular. I find it astounding that so many politicians who claim to ascribe to climate change do not seem to understand the enormous benefits on the ‘look and feel’ (literally!) of encouraging well-chosen deciduous trees and plantings in our gardens, parks and reserves. Where are the most desirable suburbs in Canberra? Why, the ones with established gardens of a decent size and a good proportion of green space, which were planted when people knew about this stuff. Ie, the inner north and south. Whereas shoving loads of cramped housing into a small space is simply creating a massive heat bank. We need far better planning, with the inclusion of more urban forests to temper our temperature extremes into the future.

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