Canberra’s horse community has slammed the developer of the proposed aged care village on the edge of Weston Creek and Yarralumla for its lack of consultation over the $143 million project.
The ACT Equestrian Association says LDK Healthcare has acted as if it does not have any neighbours in submitting a Works Approval for the project to the National Capital Authority without speaking to those who might be impacted by the development.
ACTEA president Christine Lawrence said the association had not heard from anyone about the proposal and accused LDK of a blinkered approach to the development.
“We’re quite concerned about it. The people in the horse paddocks are concerned because the only access to the outside world on their horse is right along that property boundary, and horses don’t mix really well with large machinery and noise, and nobody has talked to them about how that might impact on them,” she said.
LDK proposes to build 55 single-storey two to three-bedroom villas/townhouses and 261 one to three-bedroom units across four buildings up to five storeys high, plus facilities.
The ACTEA’s submission to the NCA lists Equestrian Park, which regularly hosts events, the Yarralumla Horse Paddocks, the Canberra Lakes Pony Club, two bridle paths, campsites and the Betty Cornhill Gardens, part of the Canberra Organic Gardeners Group, as neighbours whose activities stand to be affected or disrupted by works on the site, including remediation of contaminated land, and the completed development itself.
While the ACTEA accepts that an aged care facility is probably the best use of the site and the design is sympathetic, it has criticised LDK for barely recognising these neighbours.
The ACTEA, in particular, has been making submissions on the site since 2008 and regrets that the NCA has allowed the site to be a dump and not made any attempt to maintain the integrity of the area as an equestrian precinct as early planners intended.
The submission says horse owners are concerned that the contaminated land and stockpile of soil on the site poses a threat to the paddocks due to run-off and sediment from remediation and earthworks.
There is also concern about dust, particularly the potential for loose asbestos when the north-westerly winds blow towards Equestrian Park.
The submission also cites the impacts of construction works on horses, the proposed industrial style of fencing, traffic management at the shared access from Cotter road where trucks and horse floats will be coming and going, a proposed dog park next to a jumps course, and little mention of the significant trees in nearby historic arboreta.
It fears for the safety of horses and people on the nearby bridle paths and National Bicentennial Trail campsite, and during the many events that usually take place during the year.
While LDK has played down the lighting, Ms Lawrence said the village would be lit up like a Christmas tree compared to its surroundings, with lights on in the multi-storey buildings and street lighting that will affect event campers trying to get a good night’s sleep before a competition.
Ms Lawrence said the only word from LDK had been when it approached the paddocks manager, Sport and Recreation, last year to use parts of neighbouring land as a bushfire abatement zone, which “did not go down well”.
“All our concerns are really to do with the development on the site and their complete lack of any kind of recognition that they have neighbours and they might want to be good neighbours rather than neighbours from hell, which it could end up being,” she said.
“We have international standard equestrian events over two days and we really don’t need thumping great big bulldozers moving contaminated waste around without any indication that they are worried about it escaping from their site.”
Ms Lawrence said LDK would have to respond to the Works Approval submissions, which should be the point there is a conversation.
LDK Seniors’ Living CEO Byron Cannon has said previously that the company has always been open to discussion with any community group, but previous proponents have already engaged extensively with the community and the NCA, and much of that feedback had been taken onboard.
LDK’s purchase of the 5.4-hectare site is conditional on the approval of the development.