Giulia Jones backs petition to save North Curtin Horse Paddock

Ian Bushnell 1 May 2020 29
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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29 Responses to Giulia Jones backs petition to save North Curtin Horse Paddock
Rod Bransgrove Rod Bransgrove 8:20 am 04 May 20

Must be an election year hey Giulia?

George Watling George Watling 12:08 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.

    JC JC 8:28 am 04 May 20

    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 Retro Capital Retro 9:47 pm 04 May 20

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

    chewy14 chewy14 10:38 pm 04 May 20

    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.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:19 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.

chewy14 chewy14 9:07 am 03 May 20

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.

    R R 9:50 pm 03 May 20

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

    You could clearly benefit

    chewy14 chewy14 10:42 pm 04 May 20

    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 Watling George Watling 8:36 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.

    JC JC 9:06 am 03 May 20

    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.

    Maya123 Maya123 12:30 pm 03 May 20

    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.

Stuart Roesler Stuart Roesler 7:46 pm 02 May 20

If you want to keep the green spaces dump the open horse paddocks used by a minority plant trees and create a real green space

Rainer Busacker Rainer Busacker 7:27 pm 02 May 20

I sincerely hope that this petition succeeds. If our population continues to grow, there is plenty of land in NSW. We need to keep our green spaces and corridors. We don't need to become a mega city or looking like the gold coast.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 12:35 pm 03 May 20

    And how do you propose Canberra not becoming bigger. Ban anyone else moving here, unless a resident moves out first? As for spreading over the border into NSW; what a horrible idea; unending urban spread, bulldozing farmland and native land for housing. Hours of commuting to work, as happens in some other places. The only way to stop this happening is if immigration to Australia is reduced, and I don't imagine the federal government doing this.

    Rainer Busacker Rainer Busacker 1:23 pm 03 May 20

    Julie Macklin you may have misunderstood, I appreciate Canberra and it's open spaces and would like to see them survive. If people want to live here, then they need to make decisions. Immigration has nothing to do with it. It's about retaining what we have, that makes Canberra great even though it is changing.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 2:03 pm 03 May 20

    Rainer Busacker Immigration has everything to do with it. The people need to be housed. Where do you suggest they live? Personally I would like the population to be stabilised, so that we don't need to lose green space, but that is just wishful thinking with the present polices. There will be more people and they need houses. It's better to have some infill than spread out further.

    Tom Porter Tom Porter 4:02 pm 03 May 20

    Rainer Busacker it is sadly looking more legoland every year. All the massive multistorey developments have already ruined the city.

    Rainer Busacker Rainer Busacker 7:45 pm 04 May 20

    Julie Macklin Canberra is expanding. I came here in 1974. Suburbs sprouted like mushrooms. 1/4 acre blocks were the norm then. Now we are down to half that and a proliferation of units. Developers , large and small, buying up the larger blocks to build dual occupancies or buying adjacent blocks to put up units. The scene is constantly changing. In our suburb we have both. Leased land between Stromlo and Holt is being developed to provide some relief for the housing shortage. I dont have difficulty in accepting that. All I and many others want is to leave plenty of green spaces readily accessible and within reach for recreation, and providing a buffer against air pollution. Imagin instead of a view of the Brindabellas, Black Mountain, My Taylor etc etc all you can see a skyline of apartment blocks. No thanks.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 9:21 pm 04 May 20

    Rainer Busacker I too arrived in 1974. I first lived in Civic. I don't remember a very exciting city. The biggest change I have noticed is since then is more traffic. If only more people would take public transport - in non-covid 19 times that is, walk and cycle this could be improved. Urban sprawl makes this problem worse. Most suburbs are not going to be replaced with high rise buildings any time soon; only areas around town centres. Very few people have a view which can be blocked. I have lived in six places in Canberra and the only one of them that had any more view than of the street outside, was actually my room in a multi storey building. In 1974 Canberra was exciting for me, but only because I was comparing it to the small country town (village) I came from. It actually wasn't that exciting when I think back, and today it is so much better with more facilities. Cafes etc. As for living on a quarter acre block, I'm not sure that was the case for many. That's over 1,000 sq. metres. I know such size blocks do exist in Canberra, but I doubt most are that big. I have always lived in inner suburbs (the old areas), and my house block sizes (I have lived in four different houses in three inner suburbs) have varied from about 450 to 650 sq metres. One might have been a bit bigger; but I doubt 1,000 sq metres. Anyway, few need 1,000 sq metres, except to build the biggest McMansion on it that they can, and then concrete the rest. (Sorry, being cynical, as I see that a waste of land.)

Ann Eldridge Ann Eldridge 6:08 pm 02 May 20

I do not think you will win that one, I reckon it is a done deal!

I am a Rabbit™ 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.

    JC JC 9:07 am 03 May 20

    Very well put.

    R R 9:52 pm 03 May 20

    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

    chewy14 chewy14 10:48 pm 04 May 20

    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.

russianafroman russianafroman 1:15 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.

    JC JC 1:20 pm 03 May 20

    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.

    R R 9:53 pm 03 May 20

    Who is actually listening?

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:49 pm 04 May 20

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

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