Canberra Grammar School’s bid to build a permanent carpark opposite its grounds on Monaro Crescent has been comprehensively thrown out by the ACT Planning Authority.
The decision is a victory for the Griffith Narrabundah Community Association and other groups campaigning against what they see as the creep of private interests onto public land.
Grammar had lodged a development application to convert the current temporary gravel car park to a permanently sealed facility which would be open to the public but would, in effect, service the school.
The Authority rejected the DA’s characterisation of the proposal as minor use, defining it as a standalone car park separate from the school grounds. As a result, it was a prohibited use in its current Urban Open Space (PRZ1) zoning.
It found that the proposal would not be a positive or ideal planning outcome.
“The proposed car park is proposed to service the school which is not considered to contribute a positive outcome in regards to the PRZ1 zone objectives,” the decision said.
“It is noted that many (sic) of the open space is still capable of operation and the open space activities are still capable of being achieved.
“However, in the context of the development, the provision of a use which is not permissible and reduces such opportunities (by some area) is not considered an ideal planning outcome.”
The Authority also noted the temporary nature of the current car park and said Transport Canberra and City Services had indicated it did not intend to execute a long-term licence over this block.
While TCCS authorised the lodgement of the DA as the land custodian, it could not support the proposal, saying there was little evidence supplied to justify that it was needed.
TCCS said the DA failed to outline why existing car parking provisions were insufficient and how a new permanent car park would help the broader community.
It said that a recent parking survey showed that the existing temporary car park was regularly under-occupied and that the nearby Flinders Oval car park had enough spaces to meet the public’s needs.
There were also on-road parking spaces available along Flinders Way that remain mostly empty.
Fifty-four written representations were submitted covering a range of issues, including a private institution developing public land for its own benefit when the land was reserved for public/community green space.
There were also concerns that it would set a precedent for future development in the Territory.
Some said Canberra Grammar School should provide parking on its own land.
Griffith Narrabundah Community Association this month joined forces with the Lyneham Community Association and North Canberra Community Council to launch a petition, ‘Stop Private Car Parks on Protected Green Open Spaces’.
The petition has garnered more than the 500 signatures required for the issue to be referred to the Legislative Assembly.
Lyneham Community Association has been engaged in a running battle with Brindabella Christian College over what it alleges is the unapproved development of a sealed car park on Lyneham Oval.
Griffith Narrabundah Community Association president Dr David Denham welcomed the decision, saying it was so well argued and strong that he could not see anyone going to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal to challenge it.
“It was pretty clear to us at the start that it should not have been approved and should not have been put forward because it so blatantly doesn’t comply with the land use of that zone,” Dr Denham said.
He said the temporary car park arrangement expired in June this year, so the next thing would be how the government would get Grammar to restore the land to its previous state as required under the agreement.
Dr Denham also pondered what implications the decision had for the car park at Brindabella Christian College.
“Does that mean the government is going to come in and sort that out as well,” he said.
Lyneham Community Association spokesperson Kate Bradney said the decision was a massive win for the ACT and sent a clear message to other private institutions, like Brindabella Christian College, that the community would stand up for protected public land and green open spaces in the ACT.
“One prohibited private car park on protected public land is down, but we still have one to go,” she said.
The Lyneham Community Association is endeavouring to elevate the matter to ACAT through an application for a Controlled Activity Order.
Comment was sought from Canberra Grammar.