18 August 2017

Government scales back public housing proposals

| Ian Bushnell
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The Holder site for the proposed public housing development.

The ACT Government has scaled back the size of proposed public housing projects in Weston Creek and Molonglo in the face of community concerns about their impact on the local amenity and green space.

The Public Housing Renewal Taskforce has identified sites in Chapman, Holder and Wright and has been conducting public meetings to address community concerns.

The Holder proposal, opposite the Holder shops, had provoked the strongest criticism with residents concerned about overshadowing from the planned two two-storey blocks, the number of units and the loss of parkland.

A revised plan reduces the building to a single storey and the number of units from 30 to 18 and moves buildings on the north-east corner to reduce the impact on existing trees.

The Weston Creek Community Council said on its website that the Authority had assigned a landscape architect to survey the whole green area to supplement the original tree survey of the site, resulting in suggested areas of development which would not compromise either the integrity of the green space or its future use.

It said residents wanted the remaining Community Facility Zone land rezoned as public open space. Deputy Director-General, Sustainability and the Built Environment, Brett Phillips said that once the design for the public housing development was finalised, the ACT Government would need to consider whether to go ahead with re-zoning in the context of other strategic planning priorities.

In Chapman, the number of dwellings has been cut from 29 to 20 and re-designed in a semi-detached configuration to fit in with nearby houses.

Other changes for the site – bounded by Darwinia Terrace, Perry Drive and Kathner Street – included retention of significant trees, on-site parking, garages instead of carports and a minimum six-metre setback.


Residents were also concerned about bushfire risks and the management of public housing tenants.

The Taskforce said building materials would exceed minimum bushfire attack level (BAL) requirements and that the design took fire risks into account. It was also inquiring into the most appropriate location for a community fire unit.

It said Woden Community Services would arrange a meeting between members of the Chapman community and ACT Housing on tenancy concerns.

A development application is expected to be lodged by the end of the month.


Parking, traffic and size of the proposal were high on the list of concerns in Wright where the Taskforce presented a new design that reduced the height of the proposed building on Steve Irwin Avenue from three to two storeys, with a one storey element on Diesendorf Street, included on-site parking for residents and visitors,reduced the number of dwellings to 26, and removed access to the development from Diesendorf Street with access to be off Gornall Street only.

It also presented a design concept for future community facilities on the remainder of the block.

Mr Phillips said any changes in the number of dwellings to be constructed on Community Facility-zoned land would be addressed by the Taskforce taking up additional purchases of suitable properties from the private market through its Expression of Interest process.


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Sounds like a reasonable outcome, although I had thought that the size of public housing developments would be a little smaller. A small amount of public housing infill is needed in every suburb, Red Hill, Griffith and Forrest included

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