8 April 2024

ACT gives Commonwealth hurry-up on huge CSIRO land parcel

| Ian Bushnell
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sign at scientific site

The CSIRO Ginninderra site spans 700 ha and would deliver thousands of new homes. Photos: CSIRO.

A frustrated ACT Government has written to the Federal Government calling on it to release the 700-hectare CSIRO Ginninderra site to the Territory so it can be developed for much-needed housing.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr and deputy Yvette Berry wrote to Finance Minister Katy Gallagher and Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic on 15 March but have not yet received a reply.

The letter calls on the Commonwealth to seal the deal between the two governments for the transfer of the land between Belconnen and the Barton Highway in Canberra’s north, emphasising the urgency to start building homes if the National Housing Accord target is to be met.

The land has long been on the table and at the 2022 federal election then-Senator Zed Seselja made it part of his campaign, announcing that a re-elected Morrison government would release 243 ha of the site to the ACT for housing, enough for about 2000 homes.


The CSIRO Ginninderra site borders several northern suburbs.

The Suburban Land Agency said at the time that talks on the land involving private developers and government had been going on for the past eight years.

The ACT continued those negotiations with the Albanese Labor Government and in February when releasing the Budget Review, Mr Barr made it clear that the land was a key part of his plans to bring forward land releases this year for housing.

He said then that the site was large enough for an SLA estate, joint venture and englobo release over time, and these were all in the mix in the ACT’s talks with the Commonwealth.

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But with an election coming in October and the ACT Government wanting to get on with its land release and development program, the Commonwealth’s inaction is testing its patience.

Mr Barr and Ms Berry reminded the ministers that the ACT was a strong supporter of the accord and wanted to play an active role in helping the Federal Government meet its target of delivering 1.2 million new, well-located homes across Australia over the next five years.

rural landscape

The land was used for agricultural research but that work has long been completed.

They said the ACT Government had investigated all options to accelerate and increase housing supply in the nation’s capital, including affordable homes, and the CSIRO site and its potential for thousands of homes would be a key contributor to meeting the Territory’s housing targets under the accord.

“CSIRO and the Suburban Land Agency (SLA) have worked collaboratively to resolve many of the issues relating to the potential acquisition and future development of the site,” they wrote.

“However, we understand that current negotiations have reached a point where some matters remain outstanding. We have asked the SLA to work with CSIRO to bring this process to a conclusion that suits both parties within the coming weeks.”

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Environmental and heritage concerns have held up the land’s release and Mr Barr and Ms Berry sought to reassure the ministers that these protections were built into the ACT’s planning assessments, particularly for high-value assets.

“Recognising the current urgency for the construction of more homes, I ask that we collectively work to resolve and finalise negotiations to reach an outcome agreeable to both Governments that will facilitate the delivery of housing Canberrans will need in the future,” they wrote.

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The Commonwealth should have sold it directly to a private developer so we could get homes on the market ASAP rather than waiting for years and years for anything to be done under Labor/Greens’ watch. One of Zed’s only good ideas

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