Southwell Park in Lyneham will remain as it is but building heights on a key area of the Federal Highway will increase as a result of changes made to the City and Gateway Urban Design Framework after the recent consultation on the proposed amendment to the National Capital Plan.
Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories, Sussan Ley has approved Amendment 91 – City and Gateway Urban Design Provisions, which is required to give legal effect to key principles of the framework, developed collaboratively between the NCA and ACT Government and finalised in 2018.
Ms Ley said the National Capital Authority received strong community feedback with over 60 comments submitted in response to the Draft Amendment, including from the property industry which was concerned that the Framework would be too prescriptive.
In response to community concerns about the future of open space, there will be no changes to existing arrangements at Southwell Park, with the proposed height limit of 18 metres for community facilities being removed from the final amendment.
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The NCA has listened to the property industry, which had said the proposed Amendment, including a reduction in building heights from 18m to 12m between Panton Street/Barton Highway and Flemington Road/Phillip Avenue, had undermined certainty for many landowners within the corridor.
Building heights for the western side of the Federal Highway between the Barton Highway and Flemington Road near Kamberra have been changed from 12 metres to a mix of 12 metres closest to the highway, and up to 18 metres at the rear of sites in this area to retain the symmetrical design of the framework and to provide opportunity for innovative developments in the future.
On the other side of the Highway, building heights of 18m and 12m will remain, to the chagrin of some Downer residents.
Building heights up to 48m at the intersection of Macarthur/Wakefield Avenues with Northbourne Avenue remain unchanged, but there has been a re-arrangement of these heights. The requirement for an open space plaza at the Macarthur intersection remains, although the required dimensions of the space have been varied.
The changes also ease building design requirements, including a reduction to the apartment balcony and room sizes and the distances between rooms and balconies, depending on the number of storeys.
Flexibility has also been added where blocks have a frontage of less than 35 metres to Northbourne Avenue, to enable reduced separation distances where reasonable levels of visual and acoustic privacy are allowed and there are suitable areas for soft landscaping and deep root planting.
Concerns about impacts on Sullivans Creek mean development must help enhance it as a multi-functional creek corridor that enhances environmental values, improves ecological connectivity and wildlife, and integrates Aboriginal heritage and culture into its design.
The amendment now says the naturalisation of Sullivans Creek must be explored by proponents as a way of improving stormwater management of the waterway, and enhancing ecological values, as well as public access through development sites being provided.
The provisions relating to the role of the Design Review Panel have been redrafted to strengthen and clarify its role.
ACT property Council CEO Adina Cirson said the NCA had listened to all stakeholders’ concerns and had struck the right balance in its changes to the draft amendment.
“We do believe a good compromise has been struck that meets the needs of existing landowners and the community, and the city by making sure we’ve got the density required in a transport corridor,” she said.
She welcomed the design requirement changes as many in the industry feared the draft requirements would result in unintended and poorer design outcomes.
Ms Cirson said the NCA had recognised that existing landowners were well advanced in their planning and business decisions, with some about to commence construction.
“We didn’t want to see projects that were suddenly unviable in the corridor that were very far advanced,” she said.
Ms Cirson said there was a need for increased density in Canberra and and the question for the community and the private sector was how they worked together to get the outcome they wanted.
“That’s the quest we need to discuss when were looking Stage 2 light rail down to Woden,” she said.
“We need to do the strategic planning work now for Stage 2 not after the fact, which how we got into this problem in the first place with the Northbourne Corridor.”