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Canberra under pressure: Town hall meeting to vent concerns about development impacts

By Ian Bushnell 8 September 2018 10

The Griffin plan. There are fears for Canberra’s unique public spaces and urban environmental and heritage values. Image: National Library of Australia.

Growing concern at the ACT Government’s planning direction has prompted a major public seminar next week that will tackle planning and development decisions in the ACT that are affecting the heritage values, urban landscape and amenity of the national capital.

Vocal critics of the ACT Government’s housing and development policies, former chief minister Jon Stanhope and former ACT Treasury bureaucrat Dr Khalid Ahmed, are behind the town hall-style seminar on 10 September at Albert Hall, which will be facilitated by the Director of the University’s of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, Professor Mark Evans, and sponsored by the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians.

The keynote speaker will be former Canberra Times editor and 2007 Canberra Citizen of the Year Jack Waterford, supported by Lake Burley Griffin Guardians convenor Juliet Ramsay, Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick, Inner South Canberra Community Council chair Marea Fatseas, and the Campbell Community Association’s Luisa Capezio, who has been battling densification in her suburb.

The seminar outline says that Canberra’s unique public spaces and urban environmental and heritage values are being subjected to significant change through a number of development projects, such as light rail, the proposed City to Lake project and major urbanisation projects across suburbs and in town centres that invariably involve changes to planning policies.

“Serious concerns have been raised by various Community Councils and community groups interested in specific aspects of a project or its impacts on the heritage and amenity values,” it says.

The questions raised in particular are:

  • Has the Government complied with its statutory planning requirements?
  • Has there been adequate consultation with the local communities, and has the Government provided the necessary relevant information to those communities?
  • Has there been input from professionals and experts?
  • What is the Government’s vision for Canberra?

The seminar will discuss the role of community councils and community groups in specific planning and/or heritage issues, particularly the adequacy and appropriateness of community consultation processes in planning decisions across the Territory, and how they could be improved.

Mr Waterford’s keynote address will be followed by the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians, and then brief presentations by the Community Council representatives.

There will then be a panel discussion facilitated by Professor Evans, a question and answer session and finally a section chaired by the Guardians for any resolutions the seminar might like to pass.

The free seminar starts at 6 pm. To register, go here.


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10 Responses to
Canberra under pressure: Town hall meeting to vent concerns about development impacts
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chewy14 7:26 am 10 Sep 18

I’m sure this will be a balanced discussion, it’s not like these self appointed “Lake Burley Griffin Guardians” have been whinging about ruining the natural ambience of open carparks in West Basin by developing it into something far nicer.

If they truly want no development, I’m surprised that they aren’t calling for Scrivener dam to be demolished and the river to be returned to its natural glory.

Natalia Weglarz 9:14 pm 08 Sep 18

Jennifer one voice?

Simon Tennent 7:35 pm 08 Sep 18

For those going, just keep in mind these numbers:

75 per cent of the ACT is untouchable nature reserve (source EPSDD)

The remaining 25 per cent is urban area and is currently trying to house 25 extra people a day.(Source: ABS)

Stephen Page-Murray 6:17 pm 08 Sep 18

Barr is the problem.

Stephen Matthews 4:33 pm 08 Sep 18

Yep are we a city ir not

Iaian Ross 3:55 pm 08 Sep 18

There are only two options to accommodate a growing population. Either expand onto new land or increase density in existing locations.

Zoning may need to change based on the needs of the city to accommodate growth.

The question therefore being asked is less the impact of planning decisions, and more the impact of a growing population. What would be the alternative way to manage an increasing population?

Belconandonandon 11:14 am 08 Sep 18

Canberra’s definitely changing, but I think it’s largely for the better. The ACT’s urban planning strategy is by no means perfect but it is fundamentally sensible. Canberra is a very sprawled out city – it makes sense to increase density around town centres and along transport corridors rather than sprawling out too much further.

Canberra as it stands today is only vaguely similar to Griffin’s vision. Griffin actually planned for Canberra to be a quite dense European-style city built around public transport. He didn’t envision-sprawled out suburbia built around cars. His plan actually included a comprehensive rail network, so it’s a bit weird to criticise the current light rail project in that respect.

To be perfectly honest, most of the anti-development arguments put forward by the people involved in these meetings come across as a product of either self-interest, elitism or nostalgia (or maybe a bit of all three).

Trish Roberts 10:21 am 08 Sep 18

Planning? What planning! Consultations that are difficult to access or complete, and citizens feel they will not be listened to, anyway. Arrogant, out of touch. Barr says he will not listen to anyone over 40.

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