Chapman public housing opponents set to take fight to ACAT

Ian Bushnell 24 February 2018 42
The Chapman parkland

The Chapman parkland where 20 public housing townhouses are to be built. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The group battling the ACT Government’s plans for public housing in Chapman will take its fight to the Legislative Assembly today (Thursday 22 February) ahead of an imminent challenge to the development application approval in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT).

The approval on 15 February for 20 single-storey townhouses on community facility-zoned land on the corner of Darwinia Terrace, Kathner Street and Percy Crescent in Chapman has outraged the Darwinia Park Action Group.

It believes the Government has steamrolled all opposition to this and other outer suburban public housing developments, which will be used to rehome tenants from the inner city where public housing blocks have made way for urban renewal projects.

The decision came as new figures showed that there will be no new affordable, community, or public housing in the renewal sites in Braddon, Turner, Reid and Red Hill.

The Darwinia Park Action Group believes the Chapman decision has been a fait accomplis and its arguments ignored by a Government hell bent on the proposal.

The group has argued that the parkland site on the rural-urban fringe is bushfire prone and too far from services, with irregular public transport. It has also been scathing about the way the Government changed the zoning to allow public housing on community facility zoned land and conducted consultation with the community.

Group spokesperson Chris Braddick said that members would be in the Assembly today to hear Liberal MLA Giulia Jones quiz the Government in question time about the development.

He said the approval was deeply disappointing but unsurprising given the Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, and Deputy Chief Minister, Yvette Berry, had preempted the whole process by saying it would happen regardless.

Describing the approval process as slipshod, Mr Braddick said the consideration given to 81 detailed submissions was perfunctory at best.

He said the group had met with legal representatives and believed there were many serious issues that need to be properly and independently assessed and that the challenge would have to show that the Territory plan had not been followed.

“There are multiple ways in which this decision can be challenged,” Mr Braddick said. “There is no shortage of arguments, no shortage of solid evidence and expert evidence to support those arguments.”

Mr Braddick said the December 2015 variation to the Territory plan was made through a technical amendment, which meant it didn’t require debate in the Assembly and passed through ‘with no scrutiny whatsoever – the Opposition didn’t know about it, the media didn’t know about it, and the head of the Community Council didn’t know about it’.

“In theory, the process only allowed for technical amendments, things that clarify the meaning of terms in existing legislation,” he said.

“We believe there were very substantial changes made through that process and so for the first time, it was permitted to build residential accommodation on community facility zoned land. It was not the intention of the zone when originally created.”

Mr Braddick said the only reason the Government was trying to use this community facility zoned land was because they could get it for free and resolve the problem of where to house 1500 public housing tenants uprooted by the light rail-led urban renewal program.

“They were looking for a quick, cheap easy solution and their eyes fell upon community facility zoned land, of which there is a shortage in the ACT,” he said.

“The idea that you can plonk 20 families at the edge of Chapman, Rivett, and Duffy and hope that they’ll be all right, quite apart from bushfire risk, the idea that one bus an hour and less on weekends constitutes adequate provision is appalling.”

Weston Creek Community Council chair, Tom Anderson said that given the way the zoning was changed, the poor consultation process and the determination of the Government to get the deal done, the result was the best outcome the community could get.

“The result there is the best outcome you could get, 20 units down from 29, they’re duplex, one level, as best fit into that area,” Mr Anderson said.

But he still had concerns about the fire risk and the isolated location.

“It’s still in the line of fire and even though buildings have been approved at a very high fire risk deterrent level, there is still that concern that nature can do things, and it’s still in a fire-prone area,” he said.

“It’s located on the urban-rural fringe which is good in one respect but it means it is a long way from anywhere. 800m to Rivett shops, 1.8km to Chapman school and shops.”

Mr Anderson believed tenants would need to have a car to survive and live properly there, and not be reliant on public transport or walking or cycling.

“This one is just that bit far away from everything. I do worry about the people who are going to go in there,” he said.

Opponents have 28 days from the date of the decision to challenge the approval in the ACAT.

A meeting will be held at 3pm Sunday afternoon at Darwinia Park, Corner of Kathner Crescent and Darwinia Terrace.

Are you a Chapman resident? What are your thoughts on this issue? Comment below.

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42 Responses to Chapman public housing opponents set to take fight to ACAT
Neenie Baines Neenie Baines 9:27 pm 23 Feb 18

Elitist Chapman 😂. That’s not many dwellings.... seems very unreasonable to be ‘outraged’

Bianca Rossetti Bianca Rossetti 9:40 am 23 Feb 18

What are they fighting over...if this is an aged care complex the tenants are going to be better than many residents in the area already?? It is only 20 townhouses!!!!!

Laura Stuart Laura Stuart 8:05 am 23 Feb 18

20 townhouses looks reasonable for that site. Residents will drives cars or catch the bus just like everyone else in the street. No big deal.

Paula Barnett Paula Barnett 11:50 pm 22 Feb 18

Great to have some public housing in our suburb but I am worried they are a bit far from the shops. Overall though very pleased that it is single storey and hope they will have disability friendly eco designs and little gardens.

Stacey Ingram Stacey Ingram 11:27 pm 22 Feb 18

I live in a complex of 17 public housing townhouses and it's just as quiet and well maintained as the privately owned complex I just moved from. My children attend school in a suburb that has only recently had it's first public housing built and despite the P&C being up in arms prior to it's build, there has not been a single problem.

The stigma surrounding housing commissions and it's tenants is nothing but classism.

Tracie Campbell Tracie Campbell 10:50 pm 22 Feb 18

I live in public housing on Northbourne Ave, I'm a good, honest trust worthy person. The anxiety of moving into a new suburb where PH tenants are unwanted or looked down on is horrendous. PH should be spread out, why do we need suburbs where people think they're above standard? I'm sick of other people being able to decide on where I can or cannot live, simply because I'm on a low income due to health issues!!!

Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 9:58 pm 22 Feb 18

How will the residents get to shops, schools, etc? Very little public transport there

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 10:07 pm 22 Feb 18

    Improve public transport to the area

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:19 pm 22 Feb 18

    Use the nearby bus. Check google maps to see how close it is. Routes 26, 726 & 926. Better bus service than where I live,

    Tracie Campbell Tracie Campbell 10:44 pm 22 Feb 18

    The buses are quite good in that area, I know, I catch them everyday. People can walk, and as long as there ARE buses, people can still get around.

    Stacey Ingram Stacey Ingram 11:27 pm 22 Feb 18

    It is directly next door to Chapman Shops isn't it? I lived in chapman and never had a problem commuting.

    Mark Scarborough Mark Scarborough 5:43 pm 23 Feb 18

    Bus stops are pretty close!

    Mark Scarborough Mark Scarborough 5:43 pm 23 Feb 18

    Maybe the residents will have their own vehicles.

Michelle Preston Michelle Preston 9:41 pm 22 Feb 18

Obvs never had a night in the cold. This is what's wrong with society, imagine if the new neighbours were great humans? Most people I've met who live in PH are humble souls. And the old it's too far from wherever for them excuse is wrong. People are resilient when need to be. Judging others on their circumstances may well come back these whingers.

Jason Duarte Jason Duarte 9:24 pm 22 Feb 18

Sorry but people need homes ...too much nymbyisms going on here

    Jason Duarte Jason Duarte 9:36 pm 22 Feb 18

    People need to live somewhere - I don't get why some want to deny others that right to a home ?

    Michelle Preston Michelle Preston 9:42 pm 22 Feb 18

    Rachel Sirr I have and guess what the whingers were wrong and owned it. They all get on well and help each other.

Rachel Sirr Rachel Sirr 9:23 pm 22 Feb 18

Article 19. Of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.


Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.


My view is that the location for this development is blatantly wrong. It is isolated, not near amenities.

People who are vulnerable and/or do not have private transport have a right to good quality housing that is reasonable walking distance to a shop, pharmacy and school.

    Mark Scarborough Mark Scarborough 5:42 pm 23 Feb 18

    How do you know they don't have their own transport? There is also bus stops within easy walking distance to this site.

    Mark Scarborough Mark Scarborough 5:42 pm 23 Feb 18

    In other suburbs people protested because public housing was too close to schools. Can't win...

Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 9:16 pm 22 Feb 18

PH should not be put in all the same spot that's how you create slums and no go suburbs. PH should be spread across the city.

Margaret Edwards Margaret Edwards 9:14 pm 22 Feb 18

I am an elderly PhD student and live in public housing. Many people who now live in public housing used to own their own privately built homes but circumstances have forced them to move into public housing. Divorce, ill health, investments gone wrong. Not all public tenants are druggies or alco’s.

    Car La Car La 9:25 pm 22 Feb 18

    True. Just most people in the housing commission block next door to me which makes my life a misery.

    Rachel Sirr Rachel Sirr 9:41 pm 22 Feb 18

    I hear you. It’s important that any public housing is thought-through. It needs to be walking distance to amenities such as (for example) doctor, pharmacy, supermarket, post office, school, library, dentist, and a community hall with activities and help with administrative needs.

    The proposed site on Darwinia has nothing nearby at all.

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 10:06 pm 22 Feb 18

    Public housing needs to be integrated into all suburbs evenly- that’s fair. No suburb should be govt housing free

Dee Collins Dee Collins 9:11 pm 22 Feb 18

The idea that you can plonk 20 families at the edge of Chapman, Rivett, and Duffy and hope that they’ll be all right, quite apart from bushfire risk, the idea that one bus an hour and less on weekends constitutes adequate provision is appalling.”

    Tracie Campbell Tracie Campbell 10:56 pm 22 Feb 18

    It'd be fine for me.. I have a horse in Duffy so at least I wouldn't have to catch 6 buses a day to get there and back home. Actually the buses there aren't too bad.

    Mark Scarborough Mark Scarborough 5:40 pm 23 Feb 18

    If the issue is public transport lobby that issue.

    Dee Collins Dee Collins 6:57 pm 23 Feb 18

    The issue is not transport, it’s actually about but not creating mini ghettos as public housing.

Stuart Roesler Stuart Roesler 9:10 pm 22 Feb 18

Get over it. Have some empathy. Check out narrabundah lately?

Robert Bryce Robert Bryce 8:47 pm 22 Feb 18

What’s the issue?

Rob Sanders Rob Sanders 8:40 pm 22 Feb 18

Tell us about it in Wright..

Stuart Hume Stuart Hume 8:06 pm 22 Feb 18

It seems that the people in every single suburb in Canberra don't want public housing any where near them. Is it just a case of NIMBY?

    Stuart Hume Stuart Hume 8:59 pm 22 Feb 18

    Agreed, but an awful lot of the objections I've seen seem to boil down to prejudice against public housing tenants.

    Melissa Helmers Melissa Helmers 11:22 pm 22 Feb 18

    Public housing tenents do have somewhat of a say in what location that are placed. Usually you can specify areas of preference. And just remember poor people own cars too...

    Neenie Baines Neenie Baines 9:30 pm 23 Feb 18

    It’s just a noisy/nosey minority I think. 🙂

Patrick J Pentony Patrick J Pentony 8:05 pm 22 Feb 18

Surly the local greens member will jump in and save the day for the constituents.

    Ben McQualter Ben McQualter 9:05 pm 22 Feb 18

    It’s so hilarious there is a greens member there. “Oh yes we care for the poor and downtrodden, as long as we don’t have to see them” virtue signalling at its best. I saw them having there little protest last year. Probably worried the value of their homes will drop

Spiral Spiral 12:58 pm 22 Feb 18

What a bunch of NIMBYs.

If the fire risk is so great then perhaps they should remove the houses along Kathner St, Percy Cres and part of Darwinia Terrace.

I agree the government has acted poorly with moving public housing away from Northbourne etc, but putting some in Chapman is no worse than putting them in many other places.

Considering that most residents of Chapman that I know like to proudly claim (I presume inaccurately) that Chapman is one of the few suburbs in Canberra that doesn’t have public housing, I suspect the real reason for resistance is simple old fashioned snobbery.

    Rachel Ofgreengables Rachel Ofgreengables 8:31 pm 22 Feb 18

    I really am appreciative of this issue getting proper and thorough coverage- good job Ian.

    Rachel Ofgreengables Rachel Ofgreengables 8:34 pm 22 Feb 18

    Oh please! It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain another point of view without agreeing with it (Aristotle). You’ve just proven by insulting residents that you’re an uneducated.

    Another favourite saying is “never wrestle with a pig. You will get muddy and the pig will enjoy it.” Churchill

    Spiral Spiral 9:22 pm 22 Feb 18

    Looks like I may have hit close to home.

    So please explain why it is unsafe for public housing to be in that location but not unsafe for the private housing that almost surrounds it?

    And I have indeed heard Chapman residents boast many times about how their suburb is so good because it doesn’t have public housing. That certainly sounds like snobbish behaviour.

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