5 July 2021

ACT Government to renovate estate development planning in bid for better suburbs

| Ian Bushnell
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'Welcome to Ginninderry' sign on vacant lot of land

One of the new districts, Ginninderry, taking shape in the ACT. Photo: Region Media.

An overhaul of how new suburbs are built and precincts redeveloped in the ACT is on the table as part of the ACT Government’s review of the planning system.

Multinational consultant Hatch has been hired to advise the planning directorate on how greenfield subdivision, estate plans and redevelopment projects could be improved, and what changes in the planning system and rules would be required to achieve better outcomes.

Part of the work will be to examine what successes other jurisdictions – in Australia and overseas – are having in creating neighbourhoods and developments with better amenity, connections, servicers and social cohesion.

The three-stage project will first identify what Canberra is already doing well and why it is considered to be best-practice, and examine areas such as estate layout; public transport, walking and cycling; street networks; the public realm; environmental protection; services and physical infrastructure; social infrastructure; and block diversity, layout and orientation.

It will then look at what a minimum of five other national and international jurisdictions do through their planning systems to achieve high-quality outcomes, and compare that to the ACT’s current approach.

This includes how they embed consideration of high-quality, contemporary best-practice approaches in their planning systems, including policies, guidelines, and statutory codes, as well as any specific measures.

It will also look at the roles and responsibilities of relevant agencies.

In the final stage, the ACT Government is seeking a range of recommendations on a framework and ways to guide the planning and delivery of greenfield subdivision, and redevelopment of precincts and estates in the ACT, and how these can be implemented.

It wants to know what trade-offs there might be, such as short-term against long-term outcomes, revenue or long-term wellbeing and liveability, lifetime benefits versus financial savings, and the costs of maintenance.

This includes the financial impact of any proposed design quality measures on development costs.

The outcomes will guide the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (EPSDD) in reforms to the ACT planning system, including the Planning and Development Act 2007, and the ACT Territory Plan, particularly the Estate Development Code.

The planning system is considered to be too complex and cumbersome, and its rules-based, tick-the-box approach is getting in the way of good development outcomes and hindering innovation.

The ACT Government recently confirmed the Planning and Development Act will be scrapped and rewritten as part of the review.

Hatch is expected to provide a final report by 31 August, 2021.

The company is being paid $152,981.

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This needs to consider affordability and strategic city and transport planning – longer term planning should consider future growth and transport corridors.

The Australian housing market was summed up well by a recent report produced for the Housing and Productivity Research Consortium: ‘Housing: Taming the Elephant in the Economy’. When will the ACT government be part of the solution rather than part of the problem?

ChrisinTurner7:03 pm 06 Jul 21

Many people don’t know that ACT Planning restricts the number of cul-de-sacs in new developments to speed through traffic. Also corners are designed so turns can be made at 50 km/hr. Neither of these requirements makes for pleasant neighbourhoods or safe residential streets.

The ACT Government websites are full of previous ‘urban and public transport planning’ reports by consultants and/or government directorates.

They have great sound bites and wonderful motherhood statements. They also have lovely photos of smiling and happy people enjoying public transport in canberra or relaxing in Braddon. They have great goals and outcomes listed in them.

Unfortunately for every Canberran who benefits from the strategy for delivering better public transport or urban facilities ANOTHER CANBERRAN HAS IT WORSE THAN BEFORE THE STRATEGY.

Can we please finally get some planning actions that fit Canberra and actually work, NOT just more nice words and pictures on paper that don’t achieve anything.

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