7 July 2020

Curtin diplomatic precinct open space proposal a 'win-win'

| Ian Bushnell
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Fiona Carrick

Fiona Carrick says we need a better balance between the NCA’s requirements, the ACT Government’s urban infill policy, and the needs of the community and the environment. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A ‘win-win solution’ involving more open space for the planned Curtin diplomatic estate has been proposed in a submission to the National Capital Authority.

The NCA is proposing to change the land use of the North Curtin Horse Paddock so embassies can be built there, after acquiring it in a controversial land swap deal with the ACT Government.

Former Woden Valley Community Council president and now independent candidate for Murrumbidgee in the forthcoming ACT election Fiona Carrick says her proposal for an increase in the Open Space zone along Yarralumla Creek would provide a better balance between the NCA’s requirements, the ACT Government’s urban infill policy, and the needs of the community and the environment.

She says a 500-metre wide zone would provide for biodiversity and a corridor for birds moving between Red Hill and the Molonglo River.

The NCA’s current proposal seeks to maximise the development yield and misses an opportunity to create a valuable conservation and recreation space, she says.

Ms Carrick says the Diplomatic Precinct Code requires a detailed land-use arrangement which includes an ‘Open Space’ land-use policy for Yarralumla Creek and land immediately either side.

‘Open Space’ is defined in the National Capital Plan as “land intended for use primarily for public recreation, conservation or amenity purposes and which may include facilities for the enjoyment or convenience of the public”, she told the NCA.

Naturalising parts of the creek with a wetland would enhance the conservation values of the area, improve water quality and flood protection, and create a natural recreation area that could include all-abilities nature play areas and barbecues for families.

Conservation and recreation zone

A comparison from the submission showing the wider conservation and recreation zone proposed.

”This is an opportunity to protect endangered bird species and the golden sun moth and create great amenity to connect existing and new residents in the area,” she said.

The Commonwealth has acquired 21 hectares of the Horse Paddock with the ACT retaining a nine-hectare strip along Yarra Glen which is slated for housing along the Stage 2 light rail corridor to Woden.

Ms Carrick says that housing along the Yarra Glen corridor should be of a human scale to maintain vistas.

”Any housing should be low scale, access McCulloch Street and have a wide nature strip for trees and commuting cycle paths,” she says. ”The building setbacks should be significantly greater than 15 metres.”

The six-lane Yarra Glen arterial road should be kept free of pedestrians and not be interrupted with traffic lights, she says.

Ms Carrick also says there should be access to Woden from the Cotter Road, other than rat-running through Curtin.

”It is important for residents in Weston Creek and Molonglo to have access to Canberra’s south from the Cotter Road,” she says.

”The Cotter Road and Yarra Glen intersection is likely to have an interchange for light rail so the implications for the road work will need to be included in the zoning.”

The land swap involving the lakebed at West Basin took many in the community by surprise, especially the ACT Equestrian Association whose members use the Horse Paddock. They will have at least two years to find alternative agistment.

Nature lovers, birdwatchers and local community members are also concerned at the loss of green space and the disruption to significant wildlife corridors.

Submissions for the NCA zoning of the North Curtin Horse Paddock close today (7 July).

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Some good ideas in a well thought out proposal from an independent candidate. We really do need some true independents with sensible grass roots community activism like this in the next assembly.

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