Proposed new residential planning rules to ensure a minimum level tree coverage and green spaces are a step in the right direction but do not go far enough to protect Canberra fully from its warming climate, according to the ACT Greens.
The government released Draft Territory Plan Variation 369 – Living Infrastructure in Residential Zones for public comment in response to Canberra’s Living Infrastructure Plan, which committed it to targets of a 30 per cent tree canopy cover and 30 per cent surface permeability by 2045. At present, Canberra’s overall tree canopy sits at 19 per cent.
But the Greens say their analysis of DV369 indicates it will not achieve these targets, with the tree canopy requirement for multi-unit developments only 15 per cent.
ACT Greens planning spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur warned Canberra risked a loss of livability and amenity as the climate warmed, saying the CSIRO’s heat island map showed new suburbs were hotter than older ones because there were not enough trees.
Older suburbs were also at risk from knockdown rebuilds, whether single dwellings or multi-unit developments.
Ms Le Couteur said DV369, which applied only to residential land, should cover the entire built environment to include business, commercial and industrial areas.
“It needs to cover all of Canberra,” she said.
Ms Le Coutier also criticised the zone-by-zone approach taken by the government, saying the 30 per cent tree canopy requirement should be part of the estate development code.
“The government’s proposed planning rules are not good enough to ensure a suitable future tree canopy. They aren’t consistent with the tree canopy targets. We’re calling for improvements to ensure Canberra has sufficient trees in the future,” Ms Le Couteur said.
Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury is concerned that without a higher level for multi-unit sites, heat islands will be generated.
“Those large density sites need to allow more space for trees on the ground or incorporate green building features such as living walls or roofs that can be important in breaking down that heat effect,” he told ABC Radio.
“It’s important we get these targets in place because Canberra’s future is a hotter, dryer future.”
Ms Le Couteur said the government needed to provide more detail about how green walls and roofs would be treated under the Living Infrastructure Plan, so developers could more easily comply with the requirements.
The Greens will be making a submission and Ms Le Couteur is confident of achieving a better outcome than that proposed.