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Planning strategy paves way for more infill, dual occupancy

By Ian Bushnell 5 December 2018 45

Chief Planner Ben Ponton and Planning and Land Management Minister Mick Gentleman at the launch of the new Planning Strategy on Mt Ainslie. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The densification of Canberra is set to gather pace with the great majority of new housing in the ACT to occur within existing suburbs as urban infill or through the carving up of large residential blocks for dual occupancy development. The ACT Government Planning Strategy Refresh released today says about 100,000 new homes will be needed between 2018 and 2041 to cater for a projected population of 589,000, equating to almost 12 new homes a day.

It outlines a ‘compact and efficient’ city, where urban spread will be limited and growth catered for through increased density around town and group centres and along major transport routes, with up to 70 per cent of new housing built within the existing urban footprint.

The only new greenfield areas in the strategy are in Canberra’s west.

As Chief Minister Andrew Barr has often argued, the strategy says the continuous greenfield expansion of Canberra is unsustainable.

“This growth pattern would not support a compact and efficient city. It would increase our travel times and decrease transport options, increase our ecological footprint and infrastructure servicing costs and would not support equitable access to services,’’ it says.

Planning and Land Management Minister Mick Gentleman believes the strategy, including the 70/30 housing split, strikes the right balance and is what the community has been asking for.

He rejected suggestions that essential bush character of Canberra will be compromised.

“The bush capital is here to stay, that’s what Canberrans want to see and that’s what we want to deliver as well,” he said.

Mr Gentleman said infill development was cheaper and would deliver more affordable and diverse housing choices for the community.

To suggestions that people seeking a detached house instead of an apartment or townhouse might cross the border, Mr Gentleman insisted there would be plenty of opportunity for people to reside the way they want to in the ACT.

The strategy is at pains to stress that while there will be increased density, care will be taken to retain the bush capital setting and access to green space.

It says that with climate change already impacting the city, Canberra will need to future-proof itself to mitigate the urban heat island effect with living infrastructure, such as increased tree coverage, parks and waterways, as well as green roofs and walls.

The risks of climate change will be incorporated into urban planning and design processes for major infrastructure projects and new estates, as well as ‘climate-wise’ guidelines being provided to developers, builders and tradespeople.

Chief Planner Ben Ponton that next year’s review of the Territory Plan would deal with the ‘nuts and bolts’ of where these key areas would be developed and would be seeking real outcomes.

“I have made it very clear both to the community and industry that what we’ll be looking for there is an outcomes-based plan,” he said. “What we’re hearing is that those high-quality public spaces are incredibly important  to people. And what we’ve seen all over the world is investment in those high quality public spaces  is critically important if we expect people to live in height in the city.”

Mr Ponton said the planning authority would be working with industry and the community on these measures, which would be a necessary requirement of infill development to ensure high-quality public spaces.

The strategy says there is potential for about 29,000 new homes in existing greenfield areas, sufficient until the second half of the 2030s.

It identifies new areas for urban development in the west of Canberra, beyond the Weston Creek and Molonglo districts, despite it being in the path of the devastating 2003 bushfires.

“This area appears to have few significant environmental and infrastructure constraints and is close to existing urban areas, providing good access to facilities, services and employment,’’ it says.

It rules out West Murrumbidgee, Western Greenway, Central Molonglo and other areas due to the ‘complexity of environmental, landscape and community values’.

The Kowen Plateau was also not considered due to significant infrastructure and sustainability issues related to its distance from urban Canberra.

But these areas may be re-examined in future reviews of the Planning Strategy.

The strategy foreshadows a major change to Canberra residential suburbs with the opening up of RZ1 and RZ2 zones to dual occupancy development, taking into account factors such as block sizes, appropriate residential densities, character and streetscape, access to public transport, house sizes, solar access and site access.

Expect more townhouses and unit development near local shops, while the Town Centres and transport corridors, particularly for light rail, will see more high-rise apartment blocks.

The strategy recommends an investigation of the City-Woden light rail route for potential urban intensification, as has occurred along the Northbourne Avenue corridor.

While this all points to a more crowded city, the strategy says infill could provide opportunities for walking and cycling, promoting a healthy lifestyle and contributing to liveability.

It also recommends an overhaul of the ACT’s centres hierarchy policy, which Canberra appears to have outgrown.

Calling Civic the heart of Canberra, the strategy sees it developing as a true city centre, supporting the growth of commercial and residential developments and the City Renewal Authority’s initiatives to revitalise the city, while retaining green space and sunshine.

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42 Responses to
Planning strategy paves way for more infill, dual occupancy
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Wing Nut 9:10 pm 06 Dec 18

Well there you go. Apparently Canberra does have a planning strategy – not that you’d know.

bj_ACT 4:59 pm 06 Dec 18

The ACT Government has made money by selling off Public Housing properties, saved money by not building new Public Housing to meet population growth and increased Land Tax that has driven up Rent prices for vulnerable renters.

Just more signs of that this Governments drive for revenue, is being put ahead of its concerns for the well-being of the Territories citizens.

Jacqui Owen 11:04 am 06 Dec 18

The ACT is finite, it cannot grow for ever, this gov needs to face rhis now and look at other revenue. So lacking in innovation.

Warren Morris 10:45 am 06 Dec 18

Rebecca Parker

Time to submit your planning application for those 6 town houses on your block!!

Andrew Reisinger 10:25 am 06 Dec 18

Canberra will always be a gorgeous national capital city and is only getting better. “WE R CBR”!!

Belconnen is the most beautiful satellite city in the ACT and is only getting better. Go ACT!! 🤩🍾🥂☀️🌴😍

Justin Sevi 9:39 am 06 Dec 18

Quality of life in Canberra 👇

Steve Ulrich 5:11 am 06 Dec 18

Where is the job growth coming from? Or is that 100,000 extra students from interstate and overseas?

Gilavon 8:16 pm 05 Dec 18

What is the infatuation with Civic being the focal point? Who cares about the city centre? None of my interests, of any kind are located there. The real estate “industry” bangs on and on about convenience of restaurants, shopping and a beautiful, trendoid lifestyle. So what?! They have no meaningful attraction to sell.

They can bang on about sustainability and global warning as much as they like but have no answer to the fact that planet Earth is still re-warming from the last ice age and has another 5,000 years or so to reach peak warming. Welcome to slums and ghetto’s.

Karl Varnsen 7:56 pm 05 Dec 18

Nice, we’re finally maturing and becoming a real city, enough with the small town mentality already. We are not a country town! :)

Harper Pirsig 7:44 pm 05 Dec 18

Wouldn’t it be nice for the environment if both Canberra’s and Australia’s population stopped growing? Can’t technology overcome the economic and ageing imperatives for continued population growth?

    Peter Mackay 5:04 am 06 Dec 18

    Spot on. No matter how efficient cities are, if we have to build the equivalent Australia-wide of a new city the size of Canberra every year to cater for population growth, the environment is going to suffer.

    “Infill” is just a word for “filling up the green bits and open spaces”. Every time we lose a park, we lose some quality of life. Every time a new multistory blocks out another bit of the view of trees and mountains, the city loses a bit of joy.

    Canberra is turning into just another city.

Sas Keen 7:23 pm 05 Dec 18

What about the increased betterment tax,? I understand that's stopping a lot of infill development.

Veronika Sain 6:53 pm 05 Dec 18

As soon as we got self government I knew city planning would be the first to go in order to make enough money to sustain it. Surprised we don’t have rentable roadside billboards yet.

They do realise it’s been proven that high rises contribute to more greenhouse gasses due to higher electricity etc usage right? And you can hardly describe the Belconnen town centre as being consistent with a “bush capital” plan.

    Andrew Hope 7:03 pm 05 Dec 18

    Do you have any evidence for the assertion apartments contribute more to electricity usage?

    Daniel Königs 7:08 pm 05 Dec 18

    This is actually the stupidest thing I’ve ever read.

    Tony Mikinos 7:21 pm 05 Dec 18

    Andrew Hope There's a very interesting (and surprising) conversation about just that topic on The Conversation

    Tony Mikinos 7:22 pm 05 Dec 18

    http://theconversation.com/the-carbon-devil-in-the-detail-on-urban-density-4226

    Jube Mann 11:05 pm 05 Dec 18

    Tell me how you think Canberra would have developed if self govt didn't happen? If they did things you didn't like, could you vote against them? I suppose you think the urban sprawl would go unabated until there was no land left. Good for the carbon situation then with all the increased travel and more roads. So i agree, your comment was the stupidest thing i read.

    Veronika Sain 11:10 pm 05 Dec 18

    Here’s just one of many studies https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2017/jun/high-rise-buildings-much-more-energy-intensive-low-rise

    Julie Macklin 12:21 am 06 Dec 18

    Veronika Sain Have you factored into your statement the extra fuel people way out on the fringes use to get to work, whereas people living closer to work in denser areas might not even need a car? Then those on the fringes need to drive further, not just to work, but to shops, etc. How far is your suburban utopia going to spread. Cooma? Yass? Further? Then as fuel increases more, your ideal city will produce poverty on the fringes. Plus destroy farming land and bushland. And the population will continue to increase (little the ACT government can do about this, except plan for it) while the Federal Government doesn't take population serious. https://theconversation.com/driven-to-despair-in-australias-outer-suburbs-1435

    Veronika Sain 2:45 am 06 Dec 18

    https://www.domain.com.au/news/highdensity-living-worse-for-environment-than-suburban-sprawl-new-study-shows-20171031-gzcdkw/

    Julie Macklin 11:03 am 06 Dec 18

    So what is your answer? Build continuously over farms (then where does our food come from? But hey, I guess we can import it! Or will food be available to import?) and destroy the bushland. You didn't answer my previous question, so it appears you don't mind if the suburbs spread all the way to Yass, Cooma and beyond.

Veceslav Stanuga 6:40 pm 05 Dec 18

This premier is ripping the heart out of Canberra and selling it off just for his personal show of power with no consultation with the occupants of this great city , I’m still amazed that he wants a direct flight from China, this will bring in the corruption and increase in house affordability to further divide the equatable living standards that we enjoy right now , Barr will be remembered for his destruction of the Canberra unity of spirit

    Trace Hawker 6:49 pm 05 Dec 18

    Jenni O'Neill he's not even a Chief Minister... I think Mein Fuher is more suiting his title and his side kick Comrade Rattenbury. 😜

    Daniel Königs 7:06 pm 05 Dec 18

    Veceslav Stanuga what heart? 10 years ago the city was surface level car parks, car yards, tire warehouses and government housing flats!

    Veceslav Stanuga 7:59 pm 05 Dec 18

    Thank you for the correction, Its unfortunate that we have no instrument to show our disdain for what he is doing , the Liberals unfortunately will be away for a long time before they have any presence to take over from this irresponsible power tripping Minister. I think he feels invincible as there are no threats to his position , maybe they might roll him like the lids did to theirs, can’t see any other way

    Justin Sevi 9:32 am 06 Dec 18

    Rates were cheap though..

John McAvoy 6:13 pm 05 Dec 18

Any one want to hazard a guess where this concept came from. Type in mouse hotel in google. Good luck Canberra.

Jessica Brisbane 6:05 pm 05 Dec 18

Any mention of affordability in the plan?

bj_ACT 5:38 pm 05 Dec 18

How can Minister Gentleman bang on about Urban Infill at the same time as he goes into a $260 million dollar partnership with Corkhill Brothers to build a new Suburb of houses that straddles across the ACT and NSW borders.

Proper evidence based urban planning and design has completely eroded under the various ACT Governments since 2000.

    JC 6:18 pm 05 Dec 18

    It’s about the mix.

    As he is quoted as saying in the article.

    “Planning and Land Management Minister Mick Gentleman believes the strategy, including the 70/30 housing split, strikes the right balance and is what the community has been asking for.“

    And frankly hard to argue with it. Land in the ACT is finite.

    chewy14 10:12 pm 05 Dec 18

    Not saying it’s wrong but it’s actually quite easy to argue with it.

    There are vast swathes of untouched developable Greenfield land in the ACT, the government is simply making an active choice not to develop them (at this time).

    It’s a bit rich to purposely push people into infill apartments by offering little alternative and then turn around and claim you’re just giving the community what they’re asking for.

    The vast majority of people when surveyed still want to live in single detached dwellings, the current offerings are simply limited and extremely high cost.

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