Power problems short circuit plan for Lawson Two development

Ian Bushnell 17 March 2021 23
Lawson 2 site

The 43ha Lawson 2 site on Lake Gininderra. Images: Suburban Land Agency.

The development of the Lawson Two housing estate in Belconnen is in doubt after the Suburban Land Agency (SLA) failed to find buyers for the eight residential and one mixed-use blocks.

The sticking point is an electricity substation on the site that presents technical and planning challenges for any developer, and makes for a risky proposition.

Lawson Two is envisaged as medium to high-density community and the 43ha site on the shores of Lake Ginninderra was released to the market via a two-stage tender process in 2018.

But SLA CEO John Dietz recently told the Legislative Assembly’s Planning and City Services Committee that the agency was reviewing its options after the tender had failed.

He said an initial design solution proved too costly for interested developers, and a technical answer had not yet been found.

“We were very open for industry to come up with a technical solution that they could provide and we wouldn’t pretend to suggest that we have all the answers and therefore working with industry, we might come up with something that we haven’t quite thought of – at the moment we haven’t,” he told the committee.

He said all three options of returning to the market, the SLA developing the land itself or a joint venture development were all on the table.

The SLA would be looking at ways to to reduce or share the risks associated with developing the site.


“If there is an opportunity for government to investigate build-to-rent options or affordable options, then they’re things that we would investigate in this second process and perhaps by sharing the risk between different areas that have the ability to mitigate the risks through a joint venture then maybe we can find a solution,” he told the committee.

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An SLA spokesperson said the substation’s location in the middle of the site made the land technically challenging and the market has been unable to accurately cost infrastructure works and planning challenges.

It was also too costly to relocate the substation.

“Over the next few months the SLA is reviewing the viability of all three major options based on current market advice and will present options to the SLA Board and [Housing] Minister [Yvette] Berry,” the spokesperson said.

Lawson Two, adjacent to the Lawson One residential estate, was marketed as being within walking distance to schools, the University of Canberra, GIO Stadium and Calvary Hospital and an opportunity for multi-unit development.

The site can have a maximum of 940 dwellings over nine blocks with building heights up to six storeys.

It would also include 80 affordable dwellings, 20 community dwellings and 24 public housing dwellings.

The Lawson Two masterplan dedicates one hectare of the site to creating community hubs, including a proposed village centre, neighbourhood playground and community garden. Two blocks are zoned for community facilities.

Under the tender, successful purchasers were responsible for the construction of civil infrastructure and surrounding landscaping.

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23 Responses to Power problems short circuit plan for Lawson Two development
Michael Ballat Michael Ballat 8:30 pm 20 Mar 21

Toxic waste dumps are difficult to move even in a boom.

Martin Ross Martin Ross 7:03 am 20 Mar 21

Here’s a solution- bugger off somewhere else and leave that part alone. They seem to forget all the land south of William hovell dr is empty

Adam Sturgeon Adam Sturgeon 8:39 pm 19 Mar 21

Since I have an interest in electrical substations, my first thought is “perfect”

Sam De Rota Sam De Rota 4:42 pm 19 Mar 21

Jesse since Lawson 1 is so good they decided to try make a Lawson 2

Matthew James Evans Matthew James Evans 7:18 am 19 Mar 21

Baydn Kynaston What about Lawson?

Lawson already exists

There is one Lawson, yes

But what about second Lawson?

Joshua F. Johnson Joshua F. Johnson 11:25 pm 18 Mar 21

Is that the one with asbestos and all that other carcinogens in the soil. Why not have an area that’s untouched. You don’t even need to turn it into open parkland.

    Danny Williams Danny Williams 1:03 pm 19 Mar 21

    Joshua F. Johnson It's within sight of a water feature - of course the Labor-Green government wants to cash-in and sell the land to developers instead of leaving it as green space or recreational land for all to use. No money in that.

    Joshua F. Johnson Joshua F. Johnson 1:19 pm 19 Mar 21

    Also in sight of power sub station

Chris Quinn Chris Quinn 10:03 pm 18 Mar 21

Not enough growth and overdevelopment, probably asking to much for their land anyway

    Adam Sturgeon Adam Sturgeon 8:45 pm 19 Mar 21

    Chris Quinn You know they could probably put public-housing there, if the land values are low enough, Or if worse comes to worse they could even put A hospital there, then you have babies born under the high voltage lines

Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 9:41 pm 18 Mar 21

What? These people are really going to leave this land without whacking square concrete blocks everywhere? And they call themselves developers.

harcm harcm 6:46 pm 18 Mar 21

It’s as if the government has only just noticed that the substation exists. They had an idea, drew some pretty coloured plans and were then surprised that no-one wants to take on the difficulty and expense of working around the existing infrastructure. I suggest they give up. Plant some more trees, put in some paths to link the existing suburb to Belconnen and the University of Canberra and let people enjoy the lake foreshore.

Tan Choi Heng Tan Choi Heng 4:49 pm 18 Mar 21

Electrical substation, overhead transmission lines and land values.

Corey Karl Corey Karl 4:23 pm 18 Mar 21

Only fit about 1000 dwellings..... come on people you aren’t trying hard enough, surely you could fit twice that number in that space, even with the substation there !!! How nice would it be, gently falling asleep to the gentle hum of a massive sub station right on your doorstep ?? Sign me up 🤣🤣

    Adam Sturgeon Adam Sturgeon 8:43 pm 19 Mar 21

    Corey Karl Hey, I actually find it peaceful thank you, But only when kids aren’t throwing long chains onto the electrical high-voltage stuff hearing a big WOOMMMPHH At 4 am in the morning seeing a bright flash isn’t The greatest thing to wake up to

Shawn Mulgrue Shawn Mulgrue 3:45 pm 18 Mar 21

Did they get rid of the contaminated soil?

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 4:22 pm 18 Mar 21

    Shawn Mulgrue that part is not on the old defence land so no contamination issues.

    David Green David Green 5:42 pm 18 Mar 21

    Shawn Mulgrue some of the old suburbs are still contaminated with arsenic and asbestos

Brad Fraser Brad Fraser 3:43 pm 18 Mar 21

I wonder how they manage to solve complex problems like this in larger cities? Nudge..nudge..no need to reinvent the wheel!

Briohny Conway Briohny Conway 3:42 pm 18 Mar 21

Plant lots of trees and make it a recreational reserve.

nobody nobody 2:41 pm 18 Mar 21

It’s not just the substation, there is also a couple of whopping transmission towers and lines. One tower looks like it is right in the middle of one of the high density blocks, and the high voltage lines run over the area designated for 6 story buildings. Plus there’s currently a dam where the Community Facility block is drawn.

bj_ACT bj_ACT 1:57 pm 18 Mar 21

Both Wanniassa and Lyons have power stations around 100m from the nearest houses so I’m sure there must be some sort of solution possible. I reckon plenty of low income people would happily live in higher density dwellings in this great location not far from the Uni and Belco, as long as there’s a reasonable setback from the electricity substation.

Time to rezone, replan and reduce the expectations on the land value.

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