Greens feel the love in the 2030 consultation

johnboy 25 January 2011 2

After yesterday’s release of the 2030 consultation the Greens are letting the world know that it’s an affirmation of their policies.

“There was a really positive environmental and sustainability tone to many of the comments in the ‘Time to Talk’ report, which reflects a great desire for Canberra to improve it’s green credentials,” Greens Parliamentary Convenor, Meredith Hunter, said.

“The community is ahead of government, and it’s time for green words to turn into green deeds. Canberra has had time to talk, now it is time for the Government to walk the walk.

Greens Environment spokesperson, Shane Rattenbury, says the community is ready for the challenge of reducing emissions.

“This shows that the community is ready to start reducing our emissions, as we move towards a 40% emissions reduction target by 2020. It is now time for the Government to provide the right framework and levers to allow these changes to be made.

Greens Transport spokesperson, Amanda Bresnan, said that improving public transport is a major challenge for government.

“Public transport is of not just a concern to Canberrans who catch the bus every day. I think it’s about having a great city, which needs a regular and reliable system.

Caroline Le Couteur, Greens Planning, TAMS and waste spokesperson, identified areas in which the government can make ‘green options the easy options’.

“The community is ahead of the Government on sustainable planning. Smart planning and building makes having an efficient home easy, makes riding to work an option for more people and makes saving money part of reducing our footprint.

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2 Responses to Greens feel the love in the 2030 consultation
Ryoma Ryoma 10:14 am 05 Feb 11

It was interesting to read the Demographia report, but even though it stated that “most people prefer suburban housing”, I did not find a single link or quote supporting this. It is possible this conclusion was drawn simply by looking at many of these cities and saying “well, in aggregate there appear to be more single-storey houses being built, and therefore it must be more popular”.

Also, after reading through the biographies of the report’s authors, I am (somewhat) perturbed by the fact that one has worked at the Cato Institute (a right-wing think tank in the USA), another has been tied up with a Property Council, and the third, Joel Kotkin, makes his living preaching on these topics.

But, if I assume they are right (and possibly they have a point when it comes to urban growth boundaries), then I think we have a real problem. When we try to limit urban sprawl, and go to higher density, then we send the cost of housing through the roof (pardon the pun!). When we let suburbs sprawl all over the place, we get all sorts of hidden costs that show up over time – but are not included in the property prices.

Looking at another “expert” website, it includes a map ( showing where the highest levels of foreclosures are happening – and few are in the high-growth areas, but rather in exurban, single -storey housing. To be fair, I think this may have more to do with the concentration of “ninja” loans and people with less financial knowledge than it does with planning laws, etc.

This website has other articles stating that the hearts of some of America’s big cities (not all of them) which were suffering urban blight and “white flight” 30 years ago are now recovering, and that prices in some of these cities are holding up much better in the Great Recession than places with a predominance of single storey housing: (

For me, I think that the real issues are as follows:

1) The size of an average Canberran or Australian house is much bigger than it used to be, despite the fact that family sizes are smaller. And the finishes and layout are often more complex than they used to be. We live in the sorts of places that many of our grandparents would have considered quite luxurious. I am not saying this is bad, but it must have an impact on costs.

2) By the same token, we rarely see terrace housing built these days. The idea of building a set of houses in an identical fashion with shared walls to divide the fixed building costs over a number of houses seems to have gone out the window. This is allied to the idea of everyone having a unique, individual housing plan. Again, I’m not saying that’s bad, just that it too surely adds to costs.

3) At present we have a commercial vacancy rate in Canberra above 10%, and a residential vacancy rate below 1%. Changing our planning laws to make it easier to convert offices into apartments strikes me as a no-brainer to ease the pressure on housing here.

4) Our governments don’t seem capable of learning from their mistakes. Despite the fact that Gungahlin is full of houses that require residents to get in their cars to do something as simple as buying a litre of milk (because they are too far to walk to the lcoal shops), when they relased land at Wright, here was a golden opportunity to make a break with the past. They could have built a higher density suburb, and run light rail from there into Civic.

If it was planned properly from the word go, which means making allowance for a lot of parks and green space – maybe having the apartments face onto a large park outside their front doors, as parts of Carlton in Melbourne do, and maybe having a commercial area over the road from that, you could lift density without people feeling as though they were unable to spread out at all.

Finally, I agree with miz’s comment that the consultation was skewed. There was a token “young people” page, and it appears they visited Lanyon High School. I’m glad Lanyon got a visit, but what about all of the other schools?

I feel that if the ACT Government was serious about consultation, it would have run for 2 or 3 years, not two or three months. There should have been a TV/radio/billboard campaign for that long, and a concerted effort made to reach people directly – a mailout, a Facebook page, and so on. Then, after three years, nobody could say they didn’t have a chance to comment. As it is, people are busy – it takes time to write a submission, and to think about exactly how you want to express your opinions.
Does this government actually want to listen, or not?

miz miz 12:56 pm 26 Jan 11

This consultation was so skewed it wasn’t funny. I want greenness, but don’t want to be crammed into a povvie box with constant noise from neighbours and nowhere to grow my vegies. The only people who want inner city living are young childless people, and even they seek a home in the suburbs as soon as they are expecting.

I note the recent international report/survey naming Canberra as one of the most unaffordable places in the world to buy a home, and stating that most people actually want suburbia in preference to dense communities. Link below, and a summary indicating how wrong the ACT’s strategy is, for your edification.

From :

‘Over the past decade advocacy for “smart growth”, with restrictions on development on the edge of the urban fringe, has tended to drive up prices in many markets,
including those, like in Australia, where land remains relatively plentiful near major cities.

This approach needs to be separated from the well-justified desire to maintain parkland around large urban centers. Parkland, held for public use, does a great service by providing urbanites with what Frederick Law Olmstead described a “a specimen of God’s handwork”. But “smart growth” is not about sharing nature with the middle and working classes, but about limiting development along specific lines. The prevailing ideology seeks to limit “sprawl” — that is, extended, usually affordable middle class housing – in the name of creating dense “communities” built around transit lines. Large areas which could accommodate both parks and lower-density middle class housing are essentially walled off, often left only to those wealthy enough to afford
large estates and second homes.

More recently, this drive has been bolstered by claims, often specious, that high density development is better for the environment, and particularly in terms of limiting greenhouse gases. In the name of fighting climate change (aka global warming), planning advocates, politicians and their developer enablers seek to “cram” people into dense housing – even though most surveys show an overwhelming preference for less dense, single family houses.

Limits on the kind of residential living most people prefer — in the United States this covers about 80 percent of the population — naturally inflate the price of single family housing, particularly in desirable markets. As the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey shows, the price of housing relative to income has risen to as much as five years to nearly 10 years of gross annual median income for a median priced house in certain markets. In most cases, this has taken place in wherever strong growth controls have been imposed by local authorities. Little discussed have been the social and economic implications of such policies.

Although usually thought of as “progressive” in the English speaking world, the addiction to “smart growth” can more readily be seen as socially “regressive”.’ Worth a look.

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