1 May 2020

Giulia Jones backs petition to save North Curtin Horse Paddock

| Ian Bushnell
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North Curtin Horse Paddocks

Liberal MLA Giulia Jones admits undoing the deal is unlikely but says the horse and local communities deserve to have their say and be heard.

A petition calling for the North Curtin Horse Paddock to be saved from being developed as a diplomatic estate for new embassies has attracted more than 200 supporters, including local Liberal MLA Giulia Jones.

Mrs Jones has also posted a video cover on Facebook of the Joni Mitchell classic Big Yellow Taxi with the revised chorus ”they paved paradise, put up an apartment block”. The video features photos from the paddocks, 70 per cent of which were transferred to the Commonwealth in a land swap deal with the ACT Government, which gained West Basin on Lake Burley Griffin in return.

The deal was done in March so the government could progress its plans for developing West Basin as part of its City to the Lake program. About 2,000 apartments have been mooted for the lakeside area below New Acton and west of Commonwealth Avenue.

Mrs Jones admits undoing the deal is unlikely but says the horseriding and local communities deserve to have their say and be heard.

”The biggest issue is a lack of consultation and an executive decision being made by the government to trade off the Curtin horse paddocks for West Basin so that they can build apartments,” she says.

The nature of the deal, which was made under the cover of the COVID-19 crisis and blindsided the ACT Equestrian Association, also raises questions about development decision making in the ACT and the future of other open spaces and horse paddocks.

”Those horse paddocks are a part of my electorate and people like them being there, and why was this decision made without discussing it with residents in Curtin?” she says.

”And can any open land be traded off for whatever Andrew Barr thinks is the next priority?”

Mrs Jones says the government is not being open about its development agenda and excluding ordinary Canberrans from the conversation.

”It’s about who you know, not what you know in Canberra now, and the normal people are being left out of the discussion,” she says.

The North Curtin deal also highlights the government’s bias towards apartments, and possible development along the light rail Stage 2 route on Yarra Glen, Mrs Jones says.

While the Canberra Liberals are calling for greater housing opportunities for Canberrans, she says the future of Canberra is not only infill.

If the horse paddocks were ever to be considered for housing there needs to be an open and transparent debate, ”not foisted on people as a fait accompli”.

But the horse trail network should be preserved because once lost it will never be replaced, Mrs Jones says.

”I am not saying we shouldn’t develop and we shouldn’t progress but where is the clear plan? And where is bringing the people along and where’s the vision of where we’re going to?” she says.

Mrs Jones says the COVID-19 crisis highlighted how well Canberra and its green spaces have protected its people from the virus.

“Until the crisis hit, none of us appreciated it quite as much as when having to go walking with our families to get our exercise. And suddenly we go, ‘gee, this is a well-organised city for this kind of difficult time'”, she says.

Mrs Jones may contribute to the National Capital Authority’s upcoming consultation on a draft amendment to the National Capital Plan, which will pave the way for its plans for the North Curtin Horse Paddocks.

It is expected to begin in mid-May and run for 30 business days. The NCA says it is considering how best to engage with the community during the COVID-19 restrictions.

The NCA says there are a number of countries interested in establishing new embassies in Curtin but it is not in a position to say which ones at this early stage.

It will be another two years before horse owners will have to move.

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George Watling12:08 am 04 May 20

The ACT Governments plans to set aside this area for embassies not for housing of any type. Its my understanding that anyone can go there but if that not true then the area should be opened for general recreational use too.
– Regarding the ecological status of the ‘paddocks’ they contain many native grasses and trees. They are part of the Mt. Taylor to Black Mt. wildlife corridor. The trees are roosting sites for Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos and nesting sites for Magpies and other nest building native birds. Kangaroos and Wallabys often graze there too.
– Regarding younger poorer people accessing housing. Canberra has an oversupply of apartments. There has been some significant downward price movements in that segment of the housing market recently and there are plenty of building blocks available in the Molonglo and new parts of Gungahlin.
Sounds like chewy14 could be hooked up with the property industry. Noting that the land is close to a ‘major transportation route in the middle of the city’ and that ‘it makes perfect sense for the area to be developed’ sounds like the type of comments you would hear from someone who knows how to make a pretty penny out of some ‘prime’ real-estate. Wah ha ha ha. Cha-ching $$$$. I wish people connected to the property/construction/real-estate industry would just come clean and confess that they don’t care about affordable housing. All they want is to get there hands on Canberra’s centrally located open spaces at a knock down price to make some mega bucks at rate payers expense. There is no way the industry would use that land to deliver afford able housing. It’s got river views and its right next door to Yarralumla and Curtin.

Is the NCA that wants to build on the Curtain horse paddocks, they are of course a Federal Government “agency”.

The ACT government wants to build on the carparks on West Basin and full part of the lake in to make more usable space.

Hence the land swap.

And you are right developers do want their hands on inner city space, so too the government as they don’t have to build as much infrastructure to support it and so too the people who choose to live in those apartments. You know there are many people these days who choose an apartment over a 1/4 acre block in north Cooma or East Yass.

Capital Retro9:47 pm 04 May 20

Nice Freudian slip there JC. Yes, it it certainly is the final curtain for the Curtin horse paddocks.

Nope, not hooked up with the property industry and have no financial interests anywhere near the area.

Claiming that there are ecological values being preserved on these horse paddocks is laughable.

Honestly, wallabies and kangaroos eat the grass? You know we’re culling them because there are too many kangaroos causing ecological degradation to our actually set aside bush reserves right?

And river views? What? Do you even know the land area you’re talking about? Its nowhere near the lake.
You can’t see the river/lake unless you were many stories high which wouldn’t be achievable on this site, the area that will be set aside for housing backs on to Adelaide avenue.

And sorry, considering that the ACT has had one of the absolute tightest rental markets for the last few years, there isn’t yet an oversupply of apartments, although with the construction boom that has occurred things were evening out.

This is an area that is only utilised by a handful of privileged horse owners, it isn’t bushland, it isn’t truly green space.

What i wish is that those who oppose clearly sensible developments like this would state up front how they don’t care about future generations being able to access reasonably affordable housing that is close to employment hubs and transport corridors. They bought for nothing decades ago and now want to lock up the inner city areas for their own benefit.

HiddenDragon6:19 pm 03 May 20

Given the choice between the architectural smorgasbord of a new diplomatic precinct, or eventual development of medium/high-density housing – with all the traffic delights which that entails – this is probably the better option for Curtin residents (unless they can find some endangered moths or lizards in a hurry).

If the ACT Liberals manage to fall over the line in October, currently silent Labor/Green MLAs will doubtless be outraged by this deal within weeks of the Territory election result having been decided.

This area isn’t free open public space or bushland, it’s horse paddocks only utilised by a few privileged horse owners.

It should not exist so close to such a major transportation route in the middle of the city and it makes perfect sense for the area to be developed.

The people who don’t want this area to be developed (and the areas exchanged in the land swap) are basically saying that younger, poorer people accessing housing is less important than people getting a central city area to ride their horses.

How disappointing that you’ve not visited this marvellous beautiful place and enjoyed the beautiful flora and fauna and wilderness

You could clearly benefit

Hmm, can’t see where I’ve said I’ve never visited the area, in fact I used to live right next to it, so your assertions are just flat wrong.

And wilderness? Clearly this is an attempted joke right?

George Watling8:36 pm 02 May 20

This issue here is the importance of having open spaces in a garden city no matter what they are being used for at any one time. If they were to be built on that would be the end of that. Giulia is right. One of the most beautiful things about Canberra, thanks to the Burley Griffin’s designs and the foresight of Canberra’s founders, is having open spaces in a modern vibrant decentralised city. Having open spaces only a few kilometres from the city centre is something every city should have. We don’t need to stuff people and buildings into every corner of a landscape. Its uncivilised and unhealthy. Look at what has happened with Covid-19 in high density environments like New York and Wuhan. Look what happened with the Black Plague in the confines of medieval towns that had people living cheek by jowl. We have known for centuries that high density living is bad for our health no matter what the developers, real-estate agents, movies, and TV shows tell us.

It’s ironic that you mention the Griffins, because oddly what the current government is doing is actually closer to their plan compared to what has been built.

In particular having development on West Basin and with the basin being smaller.

I also don’t see wide open spaces in the Griffin plan either. They have formal parklands.

Then again very little of the Griffin plan has actually been built and organisations like the NCDC that came later have paid little respect for that original design. Though it does get trotted to defend maintaining the status quo.

I have read that Walter Burley Griffin’s design was for about 25,000 people, up to about 75,000 if necessary. We moved on from that design decades ago.

I am a Rabbit™1:32 pm 02 May 20

Only in Canberra are people entitled enough to think that inner-city public land should be used as a horse paddock… If you’re wealthy enough to pay for the ongoing costs of a horse, than pay the damn fees to have it agisted through a private business – don’t look to the taxpayers to subside your expensive hobby.

This is unfair
Where else in the world can you see horses 2km from the nation’s parliament or across from the Royal Mint or Governor General’s
It is beautiful, and it is part of Canberra and Australia’s identity and bush heritage . Man from Snowy River. Light Horse Brigade. Etc

Why do we care if you can see horses a few kilometres from parliament? How is that of value to our society as a whole?

What you’re actually saying is that you value the horses using this land over younger poorer people being able to live in reasonable proximity to employment hubs and transport corridors.

That these people should suffer so that well off people can enjoy even more publically funded privileges.

russianafroman1:15 pm 02 May 20

Another pull in attempt to increase relevancy, just like what Coe has been doing. Liberals couldn’t care less about a paddock.

Yup. Find a potential issue create a wedge and make some noise.

And like you I am sure they don’t give too hoots about the land, no about schools or anything else. They want to win the upcoming election by getting people to vote against the current government rather than giving reasons to vote for the opposition.

Who is actually listening?

Capital Retro9:49 pm 04 May 20

At least the Liberals don’t have to paint this paddock green though.

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