Assembly’s maturity in planning a matter of opinion

Greg Cornwell 19 April 2016 7
Yarralumla Brickworks

I see amendments to the National Capital Plan are due for approval before Christmas. Essentially this will pass greater responsibility for local planning decisions to an ACT government.

Granted there have been two rounds of community consultation on an exposure draft prepared by the National Capital Authority (NCA). Thus, while the final approval will again be buried as so often happens in Canberra while most of us are preoccupied with Christmas, one cannot complain of the process.

Nevertheless the decision has me apprehensive.

This is due to the comments of the NCA’s chief executive, Malcolm Snow, recognising ‘that the ACT government is a mature government’ in planning decisions, a comment I strongly dispute.

Mr Snow perhaps doesn’t have the background experience many of us older residents’ share of successive Assembly majorities and their planning proposals, which owed more to political survival than any maturity in the long-term effect of decisions.

The problem comes back to the restricted fund-raising opportunities of the ACT, only rates and tax revenue and sale of land. Governments naturally are reluctant to increase the former as all voters will be impacted, whereas land sales have a limited local effect.

Currently and still unresolved is the proposal to develop the Yarralumla brickworks and environs, in which as a local resident I declare a major interest.

The 2010 proposal had 900-1100 dwellings ranging from three to four storeys accommodating 2500 people. This was firmly resisted and a petition of 4000 signatures was tabled in the ACT Assembly.

The ACT’s Land Development Agency (LDA) in a Gilbertian response and to the bewilderment of Yarralumla residents proposed another plan in 2014. This increased the number of dwellings to 1600, the height in some sections to six storeys and the population density to 4000 – doubling the number of people living in the suburb. According to the LDA website the 2014 changes were made to obtain the support of the ACT government and the LDA board.

I trust Mr Snow and readers therefore will understand my scepticism from this sorry indeed bizarre example of our ACT planning process which is anything but the behaviour of a ‘mature government’.

The Yarralumla development is an ongoing issue. The problem will be future developments under the new expanded responsibilities.

Like liberty the condition of ACT government planning decisions is eternal vigilance.

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7 Responses to Assembly’s maturity in planning a matter of opinion
HenryBG HenryBG 6:29 pm 17 Dec 15

Yarralumla is a great place to put a large quantity of high-density housing. It is close to the city centres and would therefore be easily and efficiently served by public transport.
I have no understanding why cranky “residents” who live somewhere in the vicinity get any say in this. It’s none of their business – Canberra is growing, and putting new homes in an ever-expanding sprawl of ex-sheep paddocks is the *real* example of “poor planning”.

Part of this process should include turning Yarralumla shops “inside-out” to create a proper civic square where you can enjoy a good meal without having to see roads and cars. Similar to Leichhardt, they could expand the Yarralumla civic square upwards to provide a couple of stories of residential flats above an open square full of lively restaurants and bars.
Yarralumla is far too central to be left in the decrepit and under-developed state it is currently in.

miz miz 7:23 am 15 Dec 15

Who is on the LDA Board? Surely there should be some community input on the Board – is there? And I don’t mean the usual suspects, but people with a genuine interest in their local community (e.g.rotating representatives from Community Councils?).
There is a huge conflict of interest between the development and planning agencies.

Masquara Masquara 8:02 pm 14 Dec 15

Remember the last time this sort of handover was proposed, then the ACT Government were going to build houses all over Mt Ainslie and the NCA quickly reconsidered?

chewy14 chewy14 7:40 pm 14 Dec 15

I think you’re mistaking “good planning” for “what kind of development I want near my house” and ” who I want as a neighbour”.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:40 pm 14 Dec 15

The less than cheerful news, particularly regarding longer term trends, likely to be delivered by tomorrow’s mid year Budget update might at least dent the belief of some in the inexorable growth of a town still very heavily dependent upon public spending – although “build it and they will come” does seem to be in the DNA (as the cliche goes).

aussielyn aussielyn 3:16 pm 14 Dec 15

You have some good points to consider there Greg.
ACT Govt revenue is too dependent on land sales & affordable housing is a sick joke. Googong & now Bungendore seem to have more affordable housing and this will put pressure on roads to Canberra.
The proposed Red Hill development is another example of incredible bad planning by a govt desperate for revenue.
What future ACT Govt will jack up revenue from the Feds? How much payroll tax and other charges does the ACT Treasury miss out on. Can ACTEWAGL put up water and sewerage charges to APH & other buildings? Maybe we can apply a poll tax on fifo Federal MPs & staff !

rommeldog56 rommeldog56 1:37 pm 14 Dec 15

Yep – I think I can predict the usual “Nimby” accusation being made against anyone who dares to challenge or oppose an ACT Gov’t planning decision………

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