16 June 2021

Final plan means win-win for Red Hill Nature Reserve and Federal Golf Club

| Ian Bushnell
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Jacky Fogerty

Local resident Jacky Fogerty on the Deakin site that will now be incorporated into the Red Hill Nature Reserve instead of being developed. Photo: File.

The Federal Golf Club will retain its 18 holes and be able to proceed with plans for a retirement village at the southern end of the course. At the same time, the Red Hill Nature Reserve will be expanded with the finalisation of the Integrated Plan for the area requested by the Legislative Assembly.

A range of community organisations have endorsed the Plan, which will guide the future Red Hill Nature Reserve and surrounds, including the golf club.

The Plan is the result of community pressure over perceived development threats to the Reserve and concerns about a loss of green space and degradation of the area’s ecological values.

The Assembly called for an Integrated Plan in 2017, and a draft Plan was released in late 2019 for extensive consultation.

The final result means sensitive bird and animal habitats in and around the Reserve will be protected, other high-value areas may be added to it, and green links and corridors in the urban open space network will be maintained.

The old Deakin tip land will be capped and incorporated into the Reserve, formalising the buffer between it and Section 66, where Blocks 2 (Telstra exchange) and 6 (Deakin offices) will be rezoned for commercial use.

Development will be limited in the northern part of the golf course, ruling out other clubs or motels. However, in the more degraded south, the Plan allows for a 125-bed retirement village, which the club argues is vital to its continued economic viability.

The Plan calls for a 50-metre buffer around the golf course and the retirement village adjacent to existing development and for key ecological values on the site to be protected, particularly hollow-bearing trees, the interface with the Nature Reserve, and where continuous ecological corridors can be provided.

Map of Red Hill Plan

The Integrated Plan map for Red Hill Nature Reserve and Surrounds. Image: ACT Government.

Access to the retirement village will be via Kitchener Street, access to the golf club will still be from Gowrie Drive, but there will be no public access road between the retirement village and the golf club.

Future development of the land should not result in a net loss of canopy coverage or should provide at least 30 per cent canopy coverage, whichever is greater.

The Plan also identifies various potential road upgrades in response to increased traffic and safety needs, including additional traffic predicted on Kitchener Drive from development within the Canberra hospital precinct.

Adjoining land currently zoned residential in the surrounding established suburbs of Deakin, Hughes and Garran and the areas shown in the plan study area will stay at RZ1.

Federal Golf Course

On the green at Federal Golf Course. The club will be able to proceed with plans for a retirement village. Photo: File.

Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman said the Integrated Plan was a result of extensive planning work and collaboration with the community.

“We received 929 pieces of feedback with the majority of submissions supportive of the plan, which several local community organisations have also endorsed,” he said.

“The plan provides a clear direction for the Federal Golf Course site and will help retain the 18-hole golf course while protecting valued green space and adding new ecological opportunities.”

New development such as the low impact retirement village would require traffic upgrades and ecological protections and be assessed by the independent planning and land authority, Mr Gentleman said.

The Territory Plan will now need to be varied to allow the plan to be implemented.

The final plan and community representations are available on the Planning website.

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I hope they ensure a decent intersection upgrade onto Kitchener Street. Feel sorry for the houses backing onto that beautiful stretch of bush.

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