22 May 2024

Density fears: Call for planning at North Curtin Horse Paddocks to cease until after the election

| Ian Bushnell
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horses grazing in paddock

The North Curtin Horse Paddocks: are 1300 homes too many for the 13 ha site? Photo: Region.

All planning for residential development of the North Curtin Horse Paddocks should be put on hold until after the October election, according to the umbrella community council in South Canberra.

The Inner South Canberra Community Council has come to the support of the Curtin Residents Association, which is alarmed at government plans for a 1300-dwelling housing estate on the ACT portion of the horse paddocks.

The government says it will be a medium-density development, but the CRA counters that it will be anything but with that many homes on the 13-hectare site.

The CRA is also concerned that the government has rushed to a public consultation with insufficient information available to residents about infrastructure, traffic management and services.

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The ISCCC has written to Planning Minister Chris Steel arguing that it was too close to the election to be progressing the development and the government should act as if it were in caretaker mode and pause planning until after the 19 October poll.

Chair Colin Walters said planning for North Curtin was too important to be rushed because of the election.

“The government’s planning promises the most cramped neighbourhood in Canberra, with little room left for green spaces, shops or community facilities,” he said.

“There are no plans for new road links or how to handle the increase in road congestion, which will affect residents and businesses in Deakin and Yarralumla.

“The government elected in October should re-start the consultation on the basis of a well-planned suburb with all the amenities we expect in Canberra.”

In the letter to Mr Steel, the council says it accepts that housing on the horse paddocks has long been proposed and that it can play a valuable part in meeting Canberra’s future housing needs if it is well planned.

“But we urge you and your colleagues not to rush into a plan which could too easily lead to a cramped and unlovely problem suburb of the future,” the letter says.

It echoes the concerns of the CRA about green space, facilities, building heights and traffic, as well as the development being a potential heat island, its distance from the proposed light rail stations, and school capacity in the area.

It says the development may set an undesirable precedent for the West Deakin playing fields and projects underway in the Inner South, such as the East Lake ‘urban renewal’ area.

Mr Steel has ruled out any development on the playing fields.

man with arms folded standing in a paddock

Curtin Residents Association president Ian Elsum is worried about the density of the proposed housing estate. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The letter also says part of the land appears to lie under the 100-year flood plain level and asks what precautions can be made to protect residents from a repeat of the 1971 flood that took seven lives.

The council urges the government to adopt a holistic precinct planning approach, such as that being conducted at the Kingston Arts Project.

“Rather than a predetermined housing outcome, we should be joining you in a collaborative exercise to plan the new precinct around open space and community facilities,” the council says.

“These vital features of a successful suburb should not be left to be dealt with as residual issues from a predetermined housing target.”

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Mr Steel said the point of the consultation was to hear from the community at the earliest opportunity about the preferred built form, urban and landscape design, and design quality before the North Curtin site is released and development occurs.

He said a future subdivision plan would show roads, utilities, subdivisions of lots and any other approved uses.

But the council claims the Yoursay survey (which closes on 11 June) is designed to skew the results towards support for the government’s proposal.

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Better Planning2:52 pm 23 May 24

Has anyone noticed the map on page 29 in Volume 4 of the District Strategies that shows in yellow the high suitability of current housing for medium density?

See https://www.planning.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/2324693/district-strategies-2023-volume-4-background-material.pdf

Incidental Tourist10:29 am 23 May 24

It is already an election issue. If Greens and Labor retain power then given “the outcome based planning approach” and the proposed tramline the high density development in Curtin is certain. But high density does not mean cheap housing. Quite opposite. Only expensive housing will fund tram through highest land price, rates and land tax. Also tram is part of high density infrastructure. Tram going through “new precinct around open space and community facilities” simply doesn’t make sense.

Especially when the new houses are designed without parking, what the ACT government desires, there will soon be slums at the door of the Lodge, as it were.

HiddenDragon8:28 pm 22 May 24

The more relevant election to this plan is surely the next federal election, not the next ACT election, with the two major drivers of ACT population growth – APS employment and international student numbers – in the crosshairs of the federal Liberals’ policies.

Government planners counting on 1300 dwellings in North Curtin to help fund light rail Stage 2B, and developers seeing this as another very nice earner in the pipeline might be wise to reflect on what happened in this part of the world after the 1996 election and, for those with very long memories, the 1975 election – years after the Whitlam boom came to a sudden end, there were still hundreds of long-term vacant dwellings on the market.

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