Business Chamber wary about land development restructure

Charlotte 30 March 2017

The CEO of the Canberra Business Chamber, Robyn Hendry, has issued a warning to the two bodies that will replace the Land Development Agency (LDA) under legislation introduced in the ACT Legislative Assembly today, saying that while her organisation is “largely supportive” of the new governance structure, consultation with stakeholders will be key to the bodies’ success.

The legislation paves the way for the City Renewal Authority (CRA) and the Suburban Land Agency (SLA) to replace the LDA from July 1. The Government also released the above map today showing the area the new Authority will renew, taking in the CBD and Dickson, areas along and around Northbourne Avenue and the lakeside precinct in West Basin.

While Ms Hendry acknowledged the importance of encouraging investment and growth in the region and the fact that land sales and property development were major economic drivers, she noted today that such developments “must also deliver social benefits”.

“Remember at the heart of it all, we are talking about building places for people to live, work and play,” she said.

“Therefore, coordinated planning is important to ensure all aspects are considered in decision-making.”

Ms Hendry said the Chamber believed it was important that the boards of the new bodies “understood the local context, while bringing in new thinking from outside the ACT”.

“Canberra Business Chamber would like to meet with the new Boards once they have settled in to provide briefings on our priorities for the city,” the CEO said.

“For nearly three decades we have been actively listening to what locals, particularly local businesses, want from urban development. This makes us well placed to help the Boards determine the projects that would provide the best return for the ACT.

“It will be of great interest to the Chamber to monitor how the Directorate responsible for planning, land and environment supports the objectives of the newly created bodies. Particularly, in regard to delivering high quality design, planning and social outcomes.”

Meanwhile, the ACT Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia Adina Cirson was more effusive, saying this morning that the legislation enacting the new bodies would deliver “truly coordinated and outcomes based planning”.

“By setting the framework for dedicated and focused efforts within specific precincts, particularly along Northbourne Avenue and for our city centre to the Lake, the Bill will provide critical connections along major transport routes to our suburban areas – and will form the backbone of a more connected, sustainable and liveable city,” Ms Cirson said.

The CRA will be a statutory authority with a new board focused on strong corporate governance and with expertise in design, engineering, sustainability, community building and administration. Work to appoint the board will start immediately. The board will then appoint the chief executive.

It will take the same precinct-based approach that has been successful in projects like Southbank in Brisbane and Elizabeth Quay in Perth, leading major projects, buying, packaging and selling land; and attracting and support investors. It will also administer design competitions and negotiate contracts in a bid to ensure best possible design for new public areas and buildings.

The authority will be responsible for community engagement relating to city renewal, improving public spaces in the precinct and preparing sites and associated infrastructure. It will deliver on master planning work to improve Haig Park.

The SLA will deliver new greenfield residential estates and more affordable housing. Under the governance of a new board, it will endeavour to deliver land release, affordable housing and better suburbs with a focus on urban renewal projects in town centres and suburbs.

A newly established ACT Government directorate for planning, land and environment will provide administrative and policy support to the new bodies.

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