Is Canberra in financial strife as a result of the light rail project?
Recent big-ticket cancellations like that of the planned convention centre, confusion about whether a new sports stadium will be built and then the Government’s initial refusal to fund SHOUT a trifling $110,000 raise concerns that the ‘progressive’ development of our city is stalling.
And it’s not just the fact that there have been adjustments to expenditure. Our Government is looking to increase its income via land sale profits by a smart – some might say sneaky – manoeuvre.
Changes to the Territory Plan some years ago altered the definition of ‘supportive’ housing – homes for aged or disabled residents – to include the broader term ‘social housing’, which meant that land previously set aside for the aged or disabled could now be used for general public housing.
The Government pays nothing for this land, which means it can move all public housing tenants, i.e. those in ‘social housing’, from prime land sites along Northbourne Avenue, and then sell it off to developers for a handsome profit.
Residents of suburbs in which this unexpected community land switch is occurring such as Holder and Chapman have protested at the lack of prior consultation, but the Government says the sites are not negotiable. This is a worrying development because the Government’s action could be repeated all over Canberra, again without appeal.
Perhaps as a sign of future expansion into the suburbs is the recently announced first ‘urban renewal precinct’, which will be developed at the minister’s discretion, along the Northbourne Avenue corridor. It incorporates far more than that valuable strip, taking in land from Flemington Road down to and including Civic, parts of Dickson, Braddon, Turner and the ANU.
How many moveable public facilities exist in this broad area is unknown but again, it affords our Government the opportunity to relocate its tenants to free land elsewhere and sell off in-demand central sites to developers.
The loss of community facility land from Canberra’s suburbs will include open recreation space, which whether formalised or not has long been accepted as such by local communities. For the relocated public housing tenants, access to shops probably not as convenient as the current Northbourne Avenue sites, however, the extra custom will be welcomed by the suburban shopkeepers.
The ACT Government would also see the potential of extra Labor votes in more marginal electorates too. On balance however, the suburbs lose. More pepper than salt methinks.
Flushed from its October 2016 election victory there is arrogance in the ACT Government which has the potential to fatally damage the Bush Capital image.
The Manuka Oval saga is not over, a stoush is ahead at the Italo-Australian site in Forrest, Yarralumla shows pretty pictures of the brickworks (interest declared) not the outside development and skyscraper-like proposals are floated for town centres.
Cutting back on expenditure, relocating public tenants, selling off prime real estate … How much is the tram really costing?