23 October 2017

New Dickson community housing proposal includes second Common Ground project

| Ian Bushnell
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Good news for Dickson as Government announces new public and community housing scheme.

The ACT Government has announced new public and community housing will be built in the heart of Dickson but the size and shape of the developments will be subject to extensive consultation with the North Canberra community, and nearby businesses and service providers.

Planning Minister Mick Gentleman said the Section 72 site that lies between the Dickson pool and the Majura playing fields would include the ACT’s second Common Ground community housing project.

Along with Blocks 6 and 25, which the Government bought in 2012, Section 72 was large enough to combine a mix of uses, including community facilities and private homes, in addition to the planned social housing.

Mr Gentleman said the site was within walking distance of Dickson shops, the pool and the first stage of light rail.

“This is such a versatile site and a fantastic opportunity for the community to help shape urban renewal in Dickson,” he said.

“The ACT Government has committed to deliver new public housing and a new Common Ground project within Section 72, providing new homes on the light rail corridor and close to services,” Mr Gentleman said.

But it was too early to say how many people would be accommodated, or to provide any timeline for the proposal.

Mr Gentleman said the proposal hinged on community support and the Government would be working with the community and stakeholders to explore options for the future of the site, both in terms of land use and design.

He said the Government would initially run four to six workshops with stakeholders, followed by more detailed events that provided more technical information including 3D representations of what the site could like look.

“There are some really exciting opportunities for this site. It would be a great place to live and we’d like to hear from residents, businesses in the area and community service providers currently within Section 72 about how we should use the rest of the site,” he said.

The Minister said that if the consultation supported the proposal a variation of the Territory Plan would be required as the land was currently zoned for community facility and leisure.

Common Ground involves a partnership between community groups, the private sector and the Government that offers a supported and inclusive community for homeless individuals and families, as well as low-income earners.

Minister for Housing and Suburban Development Yvette Berry said that a second Common Ground, after its success in Gungahlin, would deliver a key 2016 Labor election commitment.

“Alongside the planning conversation, I will be bringing together the views of the Common Ground board and the housing and homelessness sector and also drawing on consultations around the recent housing summit to decide on the best model for this Common Ground,” Minister Berry said.

“The nature of this facility, the different needs of people who live there and the way services are provided will also influence more detailed building design and consultation.

“The amazing community response to Common Ground 1 in Gungahlin was one of the keys to its success and I’m sure that will be repeated in Dickson.”

Mr Gentleman urged community groups and service providers in the area, such as the Salvation Army, to take part in the consultation.

He said there would not be any immediate changes to these services.

The ACT Auditor-General’s recently announced investigation of a complex land swap deal between the Government and the Dickson Tradies Club in late 2014 that could cast a shadow over the proposal, as the deal included Block 6 and Block 25.

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Paul Costigan3:25 pm 23 Oct 17

The issues around the proposals for the Dickson Parklands site (section 72) are many and complicated.
The community has time and time again stated their desire to do something wonderful on this community site – but that no more should happen until there is a master planning.
As for the Minister wanting to start consultations – there have been numerous consultations already – and they always come to the point that we need master planning.
More social housing and aged care facilities are definitely required across all of Canberra as well as in the inner north – everyone agrees. This site and others in the surrounding areas have the potential to serve all sorts of purposes – and locals have stated that – but the next step should be planning for the use of the site in the context of the surrounding suburbs.
We need to be wary of this government’s use of ‘technical amendments’.

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