28 March 2024

National planning change paves way for 300 homes at Yarralumla

| Ian Bushnell
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Forestry Place proposal – oval view. The oval will continue to be managed by the ACT Government. Image: Kann Finch.

A 300-home mixed-use development at the former Australian Forestry School in Yarralumla is a step closer after the National Capital Authority ticked off an amendment to the National Capital Plan.

Sydney developer Oakstand Property Group, on behalf of Gunyar Pty Ltd, which represents the Shepherd Foundation, proposes to build between 250 and 300 apartment units, a small boutique hotel, an aged care facility and commercial offices on the site (Block 7 Section 4 Yarralumla), to be known as Forestry Place.

Draft Amendment 97 will rezone the land from community facility to mixed-use and set out a range of conditions for the site, which this or any developer will have to meet.

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The NCA said the amendment allowed for residential, aged care, social housing, commercial accommodation, community facilities and ancillary commercial uses.

Up to 300 dwellings would be permitted on the site, including buildings of up to three storeys plus an attic, with 60 per cent of the site retained as open space and 45 per cent of that set aside for deep root planting.

Heritage buildings and structures, including the Australian Forestry School, the former Museum, store, tennis courts and Forestry House would be retained and adaptively reused.

The NCA said the majority of the new buildings must be located within the footprints of existing or recently demolished buildings. Their environmental performance would be critical, requiring high levels of natural light and cross ventilation.

They would also need to sit in the landscape according to its topography within the tree line.

The planning change comes after more than three years of consultation with the community and stakeholders, including the ACT Government.

Forestry Place masterplan

The Forestry Place masterplan shows how the development will be laid out. Image: Oakstand.

The NCA said this informed a range of controls in the final amendment, including maximum building heights, development footprint, landscape character, environmental performance, parking, access and movement.

Parking, access and movement must comply with ACT Government requirements, and development must ensure the site is prepared for electric vehicle infrastructure.

The oval was not subject to the amendment and would continue to be managed by the ACT Government.

Yarralumla residents would be able to walk through the grounds as the site develops.

The NCA would continue to have planning responsibility for the site, including approvals for proposed works, new buildings and landscape works such as tree removal and excavations.

Federal Minister for Territories Kristy McBain welcomed the amendment’s approval and the housing it would allow.

“This amendment is great news for the national capital because it opens up more land for housing supply in inner Canberra, encourages new commercial opportunities, and makes for better use of existing infrastructure on the site,” she said.

“Reimagining this much-loved part of Canberra will forge a pipeline of work that will support local job opportunities, stimulate the territory’s economy, and ensure the entire community can enjoy this space like never before.”

Federal Member for Canberra Alicia Payne said the amendment aimed to strike a balance between urban density and preserving the natural character of Yarralumla.

“I thank the local community for the extensive input into this amendment,” she said.

“There’s a strong focus on retaining and enhancing the natural character and landscape setting of the area, and in ensuring that community facilities, such as the oval, and heritage buildings, such as the Australian Forestry School and former museum, are safeguarded for future generations.”

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The 20 submissions raised issues, including concerns about parking and traffic, heritage values, landscape impacts, and building heights and setbacks.

The Yarralumla Residents Association called for the development to be scaled back so issues such as the underestimated traffic impacts could be alleviated.

It also said there was no long-term plan for managing the heritage areas.

In 2021, the NCA limited development on the site to three storeys plus an attic.

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Trish O'Connor5:20 pm 28 Mar 24

Traffic impact will be horrendous – with all the planned population coming to Molonglo Adelaide Ave with be at a standstill.

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