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Dickson shops a major disappointment

By Paul Costigan 18 February 2015 24

dickson shops

The proposal for the new Dickson supermarket site is the latest disappointment for residents in the way the ACT Government delivers on urban development within Canberra’s established suburbs.

In earlier discussions about Dickson, the consensus was that despite the centre having a special ambience, some visionary developments and upgrades were necessary to respond to the growing number of residents moving into the precinct.

Dickson residents and store holders actively participated in the development of a master plan for this shopping precinct. As things progressed, residents argued that the document seemed to be more a wish list and provided very little useful guidance details. It was also noted that the plan was not connected to any legislative processes and therefore may be ignored in future developments applications.

The first major initiative following the dubious master plan episode was the concept of the car park site being developed as a complex containing apartments, a supermarket and other smaller commercial outlets. Local residents initially responded positively to the idea of an alternative supermarket being built next to the present Woolworths. Residents appreciated that this was being guided by the ACT Government’s visionary policy to attract different supermarkets into Canberra, as competition to the dominance of the supermarket corporate duopoly.

However the proposal that was uploaded for comment over Christmas stunned many into silence. This proposal was just so wrong for Dickson. The shock was that if the development application was accepted, the present dominant supermarket corporations will have had their position enhanced rather than challenged. The proposal fails the government’s own supermarket competition policy.

Most astonishing was the lack of real attention to the many climate adaptation and sustainability issues. Disappointingly the Dickson proposal does not deliver 21st Century green infrastructure, landscape, solar, alternative energy, water re-use or climate change mitigation features. This should be no real surprise, as unfortunately the ACTPLA, despite all the available science, still requires a minimum form of greenwash within new developments.

Residents were invited to respond to the development application but were aware that at best they can only tinker around the edges. Given past experiences, the major aspects of this proposal will not be up for negotiations. For the planning authority to allow for major changes would signal that the whole process to date has been flawed. The agencies involved are not about to admit anything such as that. That is not within their nature.

Many people will blame the developers involved in these development applications. This is not quite right as developers do what they are allowed to do. The truth is the Dickson supermarket proposal is a consequence of the developers responding to the inadequacies within ACT Government’s development processes. To make matters more frustrating, residents are witnessing yet another proposal being progressed that seems to not deliver against the authority’s own requirements and various ACT Government policies.

Local residents have the perception of a culture within the ACT Government’s planning agencies that treats residents and their aspirations as hindrances to the needs of developments. This whole series of events has been a huge disappointment to residents and has increased the distrust of the ACT Government when it comes to planning and development.

Despite all of the above, residents wish to be engaged in decisions about their local urban areas. The dilemma for residents is to undertake arduous actions to bring about change or to stay silent and allow all these golden opportunities for improvements to pass by. Given that the ACT Government’s planning and development system is viewed as being hostile to the aspirations of the local residents, the option to remain silent would be the most peaceful choice and be less harmful to resident’s heath and welfare.

The culture within the ACT planning and development agencies desperately needs to change if Canberra is to be pleasing place to live and a 21st Century sustainable settlement.

The fault is very much with the elected ACT politicians and their lack of attention and transparency in dealing with urban issues.  I wonder whether the captain in charge has the right amount of visionary leadership on urban and climate issues.

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24 Responses to
Dickson shops a major disappointment
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rubaiyat 6:04 pm 14 May 15

Sorry got side tracked from what I originally meant to say.

Saving heritage was not a Labor value at all. They were largely on the side of the developers but saw an opportunity to also have a go at the Liberal’s supporters, the White Shoe Brigade (Southern Chapter).

The Labor Government in Canberra is “Green” only as far they are not Liberal, and therefore frothing at the mouth Anti-Green.

housebound 5:26 pm 22 Feb 15

Postal said :

Masquara said :

Andrew Barr’s disrespect for heritage is completely out of kilter with Labor values. Remember the green bans in Sydney? At the time, people were saying the iron lace terraces were rundown and cr*p architecture.

Andrew Barr is completely out of kilter with Labor values.

Andrew Barr is completely IN kilter with Labour values. Labour preselected him, Labour re-preselected him, Labour voters voted for him, Labour backed him in every decision – dogdy and otherwise – he’s made, Labour put him in as education minister, planning minister, treasurer and now chief minister. There’s nothing about Andrew Barr that’s in kilter with the values Labour we all think Labour has, but they’re probably values from times now long past.

Postal 11:24 pm 21 Feb 15

Masquara said :

Andrew Barr’s disrespect for heritage is completely out of kilter with Labor values. Remember the green bans in Sydney? At the time, people were saying the iron lace terraces were rundown and cr*p architecture.

Andrew Barr is completely out of kilter with Labor values.

rommeldog56 5:23 pm 21 Feb 15

Postal said :

So who benefits from this plan? The community, or developers? It’s time for an ACT ICAC!

The Labor party in the ACT has had such a good run since the inception of self-government that it is becoming the most lazy, indulgent government in Australia. And now the removal of the cap on political donations – LOL.

Who said we have to have Big Canberra foisted upon us? What do we really want Canberra to look like, what do we want this community to be? It is our community after all, isn’t it?

Don’t just complain – campaign! Melbourne has a great tradition of successful campaigns against inappropriate developments. Start a new party, rattle what has become a bunch of MLAs who feel so comfortable they will never lose their seats that they think they can do whatever they like and the rest of us can participate in their fake community consultations and suck it down.

With this government I consistently get the feeling that Canberra – the town, the bush capital, the open space which allows room for beauty and contemplation, the garden city vision which won the Griffins the design competition, the heritage, the community – is being neglected in favour of random, chaotic, money-driven development and the selling off of all available assets.

What about the people who need public housing and need to participate in society? The people use public transport and deserve to sit at a bus stop which has been cleaned this decade? The people who need to visit an ACT Government shopfront but can’t afford to take time off work to travel to one and wait in the queue all afternoon? The culture of ideas, knowledge, innovation which comes from fostering spaces like libraries, funded be open long enough that you can visit before work, and linger until after dark?

The national capital and Australia’s largest inland city has a public transport system with no ticket top-up machines, no paper timetables, impossible information, inadequate service frequency, and bus interchanges that look like abandoned psychiatric hospitals. The streets aren’t being cleaned. In Tuggeranong there is a fountain with no water in it, benches which haven’t been maintained since they were installed 30 years ago, and a pond near a residential area which has ongoing odour issues. The roads are in disrepair. There aren’t enough hospital beds. There are no beautiful features in Civic or anywhere else for that matter. No beautiful garden beds or inspiring use of space to lift the spirit (cramming as many sculptures as possible into a mall does not count), and no longer any concept that this might be necessary, here in the city where policy decisions regarding Australia are being made.

And while government assets and all available land are being sold off to developers for high rise luxury apartments and other fripperies, there are an ever-growing number of people sleeping on the streets. What does it say about this town that we now have the wealthiest households in Australia (28 per cent wealthier than the national average according to the ABS) along with the second highest rate of homelessness?

What is Canberra for anymore? Is it just a kind of terra nullius to be sold off to the highest bidder? Where is the imagination, the spirit, the will to create an inspiring city filled with the crackle of ideas and the coming together of communities in vibrant spaces?

And where is that ACT ICAC?

Well said. The ACT labor/greens Gov’t really is in decay now. Just far too long in power that they have clearly become legends in their own minds, have lost sight of the labor roots and values & clearly are not listening to ratepayers/voters anymore.

Just think of what the nearly m$500 from the asset sales could do for a rapid bus transit system, heavily subsidising solar panels on roofs so at least during daylight there wouldn’t be the drain on ACTEWAGLs power supply no wait – that would mean less “profit” for ACTEWAGL & so less dividend return to the ACT Gov’t wouldnt it !!!), for hospitals, roads, grass cutting, retiring debt, putting towards the ACT public Service b$4 unfunded superannuation liability, etc, Hell – they may not even feel the need to selI our street lights and then lease them back forever ! It’s all about this ACT Gov’ts fiscal priorities – which seem to me to be all screwed up & self serving.

Even the new Labor MLA for Gunners – Megan Fitzharris (sp ?) has started a petition for road duplications in Gunners ! Isn’t getting a b$1 loss making tram good enough Ms Fitzharris ? You are petitioning your own party ! The look is terrible/greedy IMHO. If this is the way “business” is now being done in the ACT Labor Party, then where are the Tuggers Labor MLAs starting similar petitions ? There is much road duplication needed in Tuggers too – where is your “petition” Mr Gentleman & other Tuggers Labor MLAs. Or will you once again sit idely back and let Ms Fitzharris promote the needs of Gunners at the expense infrastructure needs of Tuggers and elsewhere ?

Even Rattenburry is now doing battle publicly with Corbell over the uncapping of political donations ! It really is a Gov’t in decay now.

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