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Holder residents unite to fight for green space

By Charlotte Harper - 27 March 2017 11

Holder residents Bill Salter and Jodie Beitzell. Photo: Charlotte Harper

‘They should’ve known that if there was green space near the property, it was likely to be redeveloped at some point.’

Such was the reaction of one Canberran I spoke to about the predicament of Holder residents who have learnt this month that 39,634 sq m of parkland (incorporating the current offices of PANDSI) off Stapylton Street adjacent to their homes is set to be developed as a block of up to 30 public housing townhouses.

See our video interview with Holder residents about the development here:

The RiotACT has learnt that one man who bought six months ago chose a home in Stapylton Street specifically because of its proximity to this open green space.

Call me naive, but surely unless there is a sign marking out space as set for future development, it would be a safe assumption for a househunter to make that the park near their potential home is likely to be around for a while. If that situation changes, you’d expect to receive notification at least a few months out and to be given an opportunity to have your say on whether such plans go ahead.

The ACT Government’s actions in Holder are making me look at the green spaces in my own suburb differently, that’s for sure. Some have signs noting they are slated for future development, and that’s fine. Others are used by dog walkers, runners and families heading to the playground, and like most fellow residents, I imagine, I had thought they’d always be around.

Just yesterday afternoon I walked (well, jogged as they scooted and ran) with my own children and dog to a nearby playground and celebrated with my youngest when he found a cockatoo feather, joined in as they did their “exercises” on the grass and ran around the oval (it’s a pretty sad excuse for an oval given the bumpy lawn is more of a collection of trip hazards than a playing surface, but that’s another story).

Spaces like this offer amenity (and oxygen) for us all, providing a leafy outlook for passers by and for residents who are not so easily able to get out and about. They’re part of the reason for Canberra’s Bush Capital tagline, and contribute to the quality of life that drew many of us to live here in the first place.

While I recognise that urban infill is necessary, perhaps there should be a cap on the development of green space in each of Canberra’s suburbs to ensure the ratio of development to parkland remains in balance. Certainly, there should be clear signage to indicate the Government’s plans for relevant sites.

On the plus side, what’s left of the green space at Holder will provide all of those green space benefits to the residents who will live in the new public townhouses, but that’s little consolation to the members of the newly formed Holder Community Action Group right now.

The action group’s members have four main concerns about the proposed public housing development:

  • The lack of consultation (some residents have received a Government flyer alerting them to the housing development, some haven’t, and the first flyers only appeared in mid-March, with the development application scheduled to be lodged in April).
  • A lack of services for the incoming public housing residents, with limited access to public transport and government services, including public schools, in the area.
  • The fact that up to 30 homes will be lumped together, rather than distributed evenly around the suburb “salt and pepper” style. “It’s more a case of the salt shaker tipped over,” says resident Jodie Beitzel.
  • The loss of green space for residents. “This is very important space to Holder residents,” Dr Beitzel says. “It’s well used and loved by locals. Kids come to the playground, people walk their dogs, people go walking generally, it’s really important space at the heart of our community that will be destroyed by this development.”

The issue will be up for discussion at a Weston Creek Community Council meeting this Wednesday, March 29, at the Raiders Club in Weston at 7.30pm.

The council has used a message on its website to urge residents to attend to discuss the Holder plan as well as proposed public housing developments at Wright and Chapman.

“There is much for the community to be concerned about,” the post reads.

“The Holder site directly abuts existing housing on two sides and comes very close to housing on a third side with access planned off a bend in Stapylton Street. As the site is constricted and also has considerable fall in one area it is puzzling as to why this site has been chosen.

“The Chapman site is in a designated bushfire prone zone. According to the Bushfire Management Plan it is not permissible to ‘concentrate members of the community at high risk from bushfire in declared bushfire prone areas’ The site has been previously rejected as a site for an aged care facility.

“The site in Wright is within an area which already has a number of townhouses so the up to 32 townhouses proposed will increase this density.”

A spokeswoman for the ACT Minister for Housing told the RiotACT on Friday that upcoming consultation sessions would provide an opportunity for the community to be involved in decision-making about the make-up and appearance of the development. She noted that the Government had flagged the need to move public housing tenants currently based in apartments on Northbourne Avenue to new sites across Canberra prior to the election.

Members of the Public Housing Renewal Taskforce will attend a public drop-in information session at the Weston Creek Community Centre to provide more detail and answer questions on Saturday, April 8, from 11am till 1pm. The centre is at Parkinson St, Weston. Adjacent to Cooleman Court.

To receive ACT Government updates on the Holder site, including about the development application process, readers should email housingrenewal@act.gov.au and include “Holder S21” in the subject heading.

Residents can contact the Holder Community Action Group via email, hcag.contact@gmail.com, and find them on Facebook (Holder Community Action Group) and Twitter: @HolderAction.

What do you think about the Government’s plan for public housing at Holder? Is it an appropriate use of the site? Is the size of the development acceptable? Should there be a cap on development of green space in Canberra suburbs?


What do you think of the ACT Government plan to build 30 public housing townhouses on parkland at Holder?

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11 Responses to
Holder residents unite to fight for green space
1
DeadlySchnauzer 1:18 pm
27 Mar 17
#

So actually this area in Holder was clearly ripe for redevelopment. Any check of allhomes or ACTmapi shows that it has always been zoned as CFZ, one of the uses of which is for public housing (supportive housing). See http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/ni/2008-27/copy/110366/pdf/2008-27.pdf

So in fact all the government is doing is building public housing in a CFZ zone that was already zoned for such a thing.

Having said that I can totally sympathize with the lack of consultation, and also for people buying homes in the area that see a lot of unused open space not knowing that it is actually zoned CFZ (certainly a real estate agent would never reveal that)

2
chewy14 3:07 pm
27 Mar 17
#

Anyone that buys a house next to “open space” that is zoned for development really has no one to blame but themselves if that land is then developed with an allowed development type.

It’s literally a one minute check on the territory plan.

That may not mean that consultation has been appropriate here but people cannot expect these areas to remain empty forever simply because they are now.

3
JC 4:46 pm
27 Mar 17
#

Lack of consultation? In what form exactly do they want to be consulted.

Development applications are an opportunity for concern residents to voice their concerns about the proposal, and the government has draw the communities attention to the forthcoming process through leaflets and when the application is made via a sign on the block concerned.

Considering there is no plan to change the use of the block, as pointed out above it has been zoned for this purpose for a long time (presumably back to NCDC days), what more exactly do they want or expect?

4
bj_ACT 5:57 pm
27 Mar 17
#

In this instance I have to agree with the people who say that this land has long been zoned for Public Housing and residents should not be shocked that the Government has done this.

It’s a fair bit different to the Greenway/Lake Tuggeranong Public Housing issue where the ACT Government suddenly changed Open Parkland Leisure Zoning into Public Housing zoning right next to long time Townhouse developments in Greenway (which in this case will have an unexpected negative effect on their housing values)

http://www.economicdevelopment.act.gov.au/have-your-say/community_engagement/Previous_Projects/greenway-block-2-section-28

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/tuggeranong-residents-add-voices-to-concerns-about-plans-to-relocate-public-housing-tenants-20151205-glgfuh.html

5
Kristine 7:23 pm
27 Mar 17
#

The site in Wright is the only block of land zoned for community facilities in the whole suburb. The suburb is tightly packed with houses, townhouses and apartments and there are no facilities. Filling that site with even more housing is madness. What happened to the promises made to residents in new suburbs that facilities would be developed ‘over time’? Seems like the residents of Wright will miss out because there will be no space for anything other than housing.

6
Paul Costigan 8:39 pm
27 Mar 17
#

Are there any more ways that ACT Planning/development could go about upsetting local residents?

Of course the planning/development bureaucrats and their followers can say it is all within their rules – those that they approve, make complex (so no normal people can understand them) and then alter at will to suit the planners.

It is also does not help for the Minister involved – who has already failed to insist on public housing among the new Northbourne developments – despite previous statements to the contrary – she says that movement of public housing from Northbourne was part of their platform at the elections.

No dispute – but that does not justify these questionable processes and possibly even more questionable siting of large groups of public housing in these suburbs. How about the one for Chapman to be in a fire zone!

Public housing has a mixed history in Canberra – some very good (could name several) – but way too many very bad – think Melba Flats, Lyons Court and the list goes on.

No wonder residents get worried when all they get, if they were lucky, was a pamphlet that was thin on information – and delivered at short notice – and it is explained that the real consultations will be in response to a DA process – and best of luck with that!

Public housing is so important! It must not be subject to a quick fix due to the rush to get people away from Northbourne.

Are these the best plans that they could come up with? Especially as there were years of awareness of these moves – and I mean years – as I heard about these moves many years ago – to relocate the public housing tenants.

I have looked at several public housing estates overseas – we have a long way to go in getting this right. Nothing I have heard or read so far demonstrates that this bureaucracy has learnt any lessons on how to undertake community engagement and to honestly deal with residents. Very sad state of affairs – and so unnecessary – when there is so much that could be good about this. Who is the Minister responsible? – who takes the responsibility for working with residents this way?

7
bigred 6:59 am
28 Mar 17
#

Really? The Barr Government is developing public housing on land it already owns and is zoned for that purpose to replace public housing it flogged off for record prices? I would suggest everyone ave a real good look at any green space nearby.

Personally, I don’t see a problem with this development. Holder shops are nearby, ACTION regularly services stops that can be seen over the shoulders of the opponents pictured. It is geographically closer to Canberra Hospital than Northbourne Avenue. There is no street crime to speak of. What have I missed?

8
JC 12:01 pm
28 Mar 17
#

Paul Costigan said :

Are there any more ways that ACT Planning/development could go about upsetting local residents?

Of course the planning/development bureaucrats and their followers can say it is all within their rules – those that they approve, make complex (so no normal people can understand them) and then alter at will to suit the planners.

It is also does not help for the Minister involved – who has already failed to insist on public housing among the new Northbourne developments – despite previous statements to the contrary – she says that movement of public housing from Northbourne was part of their platform at the elections.

No dispute – but that does not justify these questionable processes and possibly even more questionable siting of large groups of public housing in these suburbs. How about the one for Chapman to be in a fire zone!

Public housing has a mixed history in Canberra – some very good (could name several) – but way too many very bad – think Melba Flats, Lyons Court and the list goes on.

No wonder residents get worried when all they get, if they were lucky, was a pamphlet that was thin on information – and delivered at short notice – and it is explained that the real consultations will be in response to a DA process – and best of luck with that!

Public housing is so important! It must not be subject to a quick fix due to the rush to get people away from Northbourne.

Are these the best plans that they could come up with? Especially as there were years of awareness of these moves – and I mean years – as I heard about these moves many years ago – to relocate the public housing tenants.

I have looked at several public housing estates overseas – we have a long way to go in getting this right. Nothing I have heard or read so far demonstrates that this bureaucracy has learnt any lessons on how to undertake community engagement and to honestly deal with residents. Very sad state of affairs – and so unnecessary – when there is so much that could be good about this. Who is the Minister responsible? – who takes the responsibility for working with residents this way?

I put it to you that any change would upset a subset of local residents. And besides last time I looked the role of government and planning was to do what is good for the common good not pander to minority groups.

In this case sell older properties and build new seems like something that will benifit the territory as a whole.

9
bringontheevidence 2:27 pm
28 Mar 17
#

This is simply a case of selfish residents not wanting ‘the wrong type of people’ moving into their suburb. Anyone with an ounce of sense would have checked the zoning of blocks nearby when they bought their property so they should be very well aware of what is/isn’t able to be built.

Guaranteed that there would be few, if any, complaints if the land and current buildings were being replaced with a school, childcare centre or church.

10
Ezy 11:25 am
30 Mar 17
#

The meeting was cancelled last night due to the space made available for the meeting note being able to accomodate the vocal crowd.

From the Weston Creek Community Council Facebook page: “The Public Housing Renewal Taskforce’s plans to take over and build on ‘Community Facilities’ zoned land in Holder, Chapman and Wright have drawn one of our biggest crowds ever. In fact the venue is over capacity and we’re having to turn people away. Such is the community’s anger at the Taskforce’s plans and the gross lack of consultation.
UPDATE: due to the overwhelming numbers, including an overflow queue stretching to the venue car park, we’ve had to cancel the meeting and reschedule it to a much larger venue. Watch this space for details.”

11
crackerpants 1:08 pm
03 Apr 17
#

Another update:

The meeting last week – which had to be rescheduled because the turn out exceeded fire safety regulations – was called primarily on the basis that residents had not been consulted.

The Government has taken the opportunity to refuse to appear at the rescheduled meeting, citing fears of verbal abuse.

What do you do when someone accuses you of being non-consultative? Be even more non-consultative of course!! That’ll fix ’em. If residents were concerned before, they’ll be bloody cranky now.

http://www.wccc.com.au/no-to-wccc-meeting-on-public-housing-in-holder-chapman-wright/

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