Government to defy Assembly on Coombs Peninsula housing

Ian Bushnell 29 November 2019 19
Coombs Peninsula

Thirty homes are planned for Coombs Peninsula, between existing housing and the Molonglo River. Photo: ACT Conservation Council.

The ACT Government is pressing ahead with a land release at Coombs Peninsula near the Molonglo River despite the passing of a Legislative Assembly motion on Wednesday calling for it to be retained as open space and removed from the Suburban Land Agency’s program by June 2020.

The motion, moved by Liberal MLA Guilia Jones and amended by Green Caroline Le Couteur, came after a community petition from 559 residents and a Legislative Assembly Committee Report recommending that the area be put aside for environmental and recreational purposes.

The SLA has the land listed for 30 house sites in coming years but Coombs community members and the ACT Conservation Council have been fighting to keep the open space.

A Government spokesperson said the Coombs Peninsula has been allocated for residential development since plans for the region were released in 2008.

Numerous environmental and planning assessments over the last decade had found that the peninsula had low environmental value and should not be included in the Molonglo River Reserve.

“It’s baffling that the Opposition has supported this motion after indicating that they want to aggressively release more land in the ACT with no economic or conservation plan,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said not releasing the land for development would mean a $30 million hit to the ACT coffers and add to the Canberra Liberals blackhole of uncosted and unexplained promises.

The Government was ensuring Molonglo residents had access to open spaces and nature reserves.

“We have recently added an extra 35 hectares to the Molonglo River Reserve to bring it to a total of 1280 hectares that will restore the river landscape for our native plants and animals and provide recreational areas for Molonglo,” the spokesperson said. “Locals will be able to enjoy bird watching, fishing, picnicking, bushwalking, horse-riding and cycling in the new area of the reserve.”

Mrs Jones said it would be a brave Government to defy the will of the Assembly and not direct the SLA to remove the land from its release program.

”I will be writing to the chair of the Suburban Land Agency to find out if they plan to respect the vote of the Assembly,” she said.

She said Planning Minister Mick Gentleman had admitted that the houses could be built elsewhere, so the taxpayer would not be out of pocket.

There had been mixed messages about whether the land had always been slated for housing, and people who bought into Coombs were under the impression that it would remain a park, she said.

Mrs Jones said a small amount of nature park could make a huge amount of difference to residents, especially in the summer heat.

She said the Molonglo River reserve was not very wide and its trees were immature.

“It’s a young suburb and its trees are very small and this reserve means a lot to the people of Coombs,” she said.

On Tuesday Mr Gentleman tabled the Government’s formal response to the Committee in the Assembly, in which it rejected most of the Committee’s recommendations, saying that environmental impact assessments have been conducted and that the area, part of the former pine forest, is too degraded to restore its environmental values.

But the Conservation Council said this ignored arguments that ensuring the area was used as urban open space would support protection of the environmental values in the river corridor, allow better management of fire risk, and provide an urban open space area for residents in the Molonglo Valley.

Executive Director Helen Oakey said the Council has long held the view that the Coombs Peninsula, a small spit of land that extends north into the Molonglo River corridor, should be put aside for environmental purposes due to the impact that urban development and the management of fire risk would have on the habitat of the endangered pink-tailed worm-lizard.

“As more people live in higher-density suburbs, access to high-quality urban open space becomes more important, and the Coombs Peninsula has values that should be able to be enjoyed the whole community, not just a select few,” she said.

“Now that the Assembly has made such a clear recommendation to remove the Coombs Peninsula from the land release program by June 2020, the Conservation Council is keen to see the ACT Government respond to the community’s concerns,” Ms Oakey said.

Pink-tailed worm-lizard

The Conservation Council has been fighting to prevent housing because of impacts on the habitat of the endangered pink-tailed worm-lizard. Photo: File.

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19 Responses to Government to defy Assembly on Coombs Peninsula housing
Ursula Gamal Ursula Gamal 7:58 am 01 Dec 19

Not right. Already the native animals have nowhere to go.

Acton Acton 6:17 am 01 Dec 19

Yet another example of the Barr Labor government ignoring local residents and giving our recreational areas to property developers. This has been happening all over Canberra for years. It’s called densification.

Dory Johns Dory Johns 10:58 pm 30 Nov 19

They need to go at the next election.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:46 pm 30 Nov 19

“The SLA has the land listed for 30 house sites” …….. “not releasing the land for development would mean a $30 million hit to the ACT coffers”

So an average of one million bucks per block, opposite what used to be the Misery Hill Lookout – the spruik for this one should be entertaining.

Scott Applebee Scott Applebee 9:30 am 30 Nov 19

Has anyone seen the Chernobyl TV series? Looking at the scenes shot in Pripyat with all the high rise apartment buildings I only had one thought. It looks just like what the ACT government are doing in the Molongolo Valley.

We're no longer the bush capital comrades!

    Margaret Dudley Margaret Dudley 2:43 pm 30 Nov 19

    Scott Applebee I thought exactly the same thing - oh except that the Chernobyl apartment blocks had more green space around them

Nardia Kerin Nardia Kerin 6:56 am 30 Nov 19

Ron Barnes this might be the land works we were talking about.

Mal Briggs Mal Briggs 12:26 am 30 Nov 19

Sooo... Do we actually have a legislature?

If the government isn't beholden to votes in the chamber, does the Assembly actually serve a role?

Does the ACT government have any accountability?

Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 9:51 pm 29 Nov 19

So can someone tell me what the point of these overpaid local politicians is, if motions passed in ACT Assembly are not binding?

    Jim Jim Jim Jim 5:02 am 30 Nov 19

    Gabriel Spacca back in 90 or 92 Canberrans voted ‘no’ to having an ACT Government. Nothing is surprising why should democracy get in the way?

    James Forge James Forge 5:27 pm 30 Nov 19

    Jim Hosie It was the early 80's. Self government was foisted upon the people of the ACT in 1989.

    Jim Jim Jim Jim 5:59 pm 30 Nov 19

    James Forge thanks for the update

    Ron Norton Ron Norton 7:55 pm 05 Dec 19

    Yes by the Hawke Labor Government. Hawkie came out and said (virtually): "Well you're getting self government. I don't care what you want."

Ian McTaggart Ian McTaggart 7:32 pm 29 Nov 19

Such a great opportunity to be innovative and responsive to community needs and suggestions. Instead, more small blocks with oversized houses will be developed unless this madness is halted.

Rob Sanders Rob Sanders 4:43 pm 29 Nov 19

Chris Steel can answer to residents, yes?

Yogi Patches Yogi Patches 3:48 pm 29 Nov 19

Does nobody in the ACT look at the hellholes of Melbourne and Sydney and think "Nah, no overdevelopment for us thanks"?

    Jason Moore Jason Moore 3:56 pm 29 Nov 19

    Yogi Patches all of us - except those who own and work for the development companies.... One might include our Government in that group.... I am pretty sure we will be voting for a change in that Government very soon now...

Mat Barber Mat Barber 10:47 am 29 Nov 19

I'd hardly call that a peninsula, it's a small bend in the river

    Mirjam Herzog Mirjam Herzog 6:10 pm 29 Nov 19

    Mat Barber yep, but peninsula will be the official term as long as a developer has his eyes on it for some fancy project...

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