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Public meeting calls for development pause, heritage listing of lake

By Ian Bushnell 18 September 2018 42

The 1963 master plan for Lake Burley Griffin. Photo: Supplied.

Community activists concerned at the direction of Canberra have called for pause in the approval of major projects, heritage listing of Lake Burley Griffin and a new design competition to guide the development of the National Capital in its second century.

Five resolutions from last week’s public meeting on planning and development in the ACT at a packed Albert Hall are to be sent to the Federal Minister for the National Capital and External Territories, the ACT Chief Minister, and the ACT Legislative Assembly.

Lake Burley Griffin Guardians convenor Juliet Ramsay said a key concern at the meeting was a lack of real community consultation about proposed developments.

“There hasn’t been enough people involved in the planning. What has happened is the Government has made decisions on planning then done a token consultation, then the development has started. It’s a huge concern,” she said.

The more than 400 people at the meeting convened by former Chief Minister Jon Stanhope heard a litany of complaints about the ACT’s planning authorities that must have had Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate head Ben Ponton’s ears burning as he sat through the night.

From the Griffin plan being nibbled away, to a piecemeal approach to planning, to a lack of enforcement of the Directorate’s own rules, to precinct codes being ignored, to the poor architecture and loss of heritage and green space, it was a telling indictment of the Labor Government’s record.

Ms Ramsay denied people were just resistant to change or concerned that the city was growing.

“People are concerned about the city changing but I don’t think we are generally concerned about good changes. Constitution Avenue has been tidied up and people appreciate that,” she said.

One resolution calls for ‘active and demonstrable community engagement on the vision and reshaping of Canberra’, from both Federal and ACT politicians, particularly on the ACT Government’s planning strategy refresh.

“We believe there needs to be a pause in the approval of further large-scale developments that will impact on the long-term form of the city until this community engagement is completed,” it says.

Another calls for both levels of government, under the National Capital Plan and the Territory Plan, to develop precinct codes, local area plans, heritage overlays/management plans,
environmental and character values for individual precincts that are both enforceable and enforced in future planning.

The meeting also called for the ACT and Australian Governments to support heritage listing for Lake Burley Griffin and its landscape setting, and to halt all plans to infill part of the lake and appropriate the foreshore for an apartment estate at West Basin.

Accusing Chief Minister Andrew Barr of having an appalling attitude to heritage, Ms Ramsay said the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians were desperately concerned about West Basin.

“It started as City to the Lake but now we don’t see City to the Lake at all but the development of the apartments is still on the books,” Ms Ramsay said.

“They are privatising that land and privatising the vistas. It’s such a strategic and important bit of land and has the potential to be wonderful.”

The final resolution, which came from the floor of the meeting, calls for the Australian and ACT Governments to undertake a new international design competition to guide planning for the second century of the Nation’s Capital.

Ms Ramsay acknowledged the ACT Government’s economic pressures, which would only be exacerbated by the cost of light rail, but said it needed other sources of income besides property rates and land sales.

“It can’t just go on selling land forever,” she said.

What’s Your opinion?


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42 Responses to
Public meeting calls for development pause, heritage listing of lake
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Jessie Barton 12:15 pm 22 Sep 18

Dannielle HooperPeter PoulakisChloe Hooper thoughts?

Queanbeyanite 5:31 pm 21 Sep 18

How do you think Mr Rattenbury is going to pay off the full $6 billion tramway if they don’t build multi million dollar apartments around the lake?

Mark_Dando 8:26 am 21 Sep 18

Contrary to the claims of Juliet Ramsay, the ACT government’s plans for West Basin aren’t ‘nibbling away’ at Walter Burley Griffin’s plan. Development of West Basin with a residential component is entirely in keeping with Griffin’s plan, which was undermined by the modernists who ran and advised the National Capital Development Commission in the 1960s and 70s. Griffin didn’t envisage the sterile, soulless landscape crisscrossed by freeways shown in the 1963 plan that illustrates this article. He did envisage people living, walking and catching trams along the main avenues. The ACT government’s plans for West Basin, along with other initiatives including light rail, are actually resurrecting Griffin’s legacy.

    Arjay 12:22 pm 21 Sep 18

    Juliet Ramsay and her Lake Gatekeepers are liars, plain and simple. They conjure up false imagery to scare ill-informed people away from a project that would objectively improve a tired, rundown space that no one actually uses. This whole West Basin “controversy” is a joke.

    chewy14 5:37 pm 21 Sep 18

    Yes,
    I particularly like how they claim it’s a valued public space when it’s mostly unused car parks.

    There’s homeless people living down there too but I doubt these “guardians’’ actually know this because I question how much they actually go there and utilise the space themselves.

Davinia Carson 8:14 am 21 Sep 18

Agreed. Hi Pen, come and do a walk with us and stay. Spring is in the air!

cannedbeeria 10:11 pm 20 Sep 18

“From the Griffin plan being nibbled away, to a piecemeal approach to planning, to a lack of enforcement of the Directorate’s own rules,”

Hear hear! We have seen some developments that clearly breach and are not in keeping at all, with the various territory plans and intents, being stalled and eventually passed despite overwhelming public opinion against them. And no amount of correspondence is even acknowledged, let alone addressed.

David2424 5:47 pm 20 Sep 18

Lake Burley Griffin Guardians are anti-development radicals. Their views are Canberra 1950, not Canberra 2050.

Canberrans are spoilt for natural space – Black Mountain, Mount Ainslie and Majura, Mount Stromlo, and the Brindabellas at our doorstep.

Lake Burley Griffin has over 40 kilometres of shoreline. Some of it beautiful, but much is under-utilised and not maintained. West Basin is weedy, out-of-use, and hemmed in by Parkes Way. Why would one choose to go to West Basin when Commonwealth Park is right beside it? Or for a more natural setting there’s Weston Park, Black Mountain Peninsula, or even Barrenjoey Peninsula by the arboretum.

Yet the Guardians object to development of a small portion of the lake at West Basin, an area closest to the city, and the development of which was a part of Walter Burley Griffin’s original plan for Canberra.

Walter Burley Griffin’s Canberra plan was derailed by post-WWII car-centred urban sprawl. Canberra has more than its fair share of sprawl. Many Canberrans and visitors alike deride it as a city ‘where you need a car’. That people increasingly wish to live in apartments, increase urban density around the lake, and live closer to work is a welcome counter-balance to more sprawl.

The government consults the population every three years at the election. The only consultation that matters. How much more consultation is needed?

Ann Kennedy 10:29 am 20 Sep 18

One for you Patsy?

Penny Moyes 3:12 pm 19 Sep 18

It would stop apartments being put up on the edge of the lake

    Mark Dando 8:21 am 20 Sep 18

    Why would you want to ban residential development? Including residential in the mix brings life to otherwise sterile environments, promotes public safety and gives people an incentive to maintain the public realm. You can see this at Kingston, where you can now walk safely at night between the Parliamentary Triangle and the Foreshore because there are always people around. Those of us who are local have a real interest in protecting the lake and the adjacent public spaces, including by picking up rubbish. West Basin as it currently exists is a wasteland of carparks and shabby public spaces. A mixed use development, including residential, with high quality amenities like the new Henry Rolland Park near the bridge is just what is needed.

Tramcar Trev 1:46 pm 19 Sep 18

What would heritage listing achieve? You need sensible planning options for the land around the lake...

chewy14 10:44 am 19 Sep 18

Considering the demographics of the attendees at the public meeting, surely they should be calling for the demolition of Scriviner dam and the restoration of the mighty Molonglo river through the Parliamentary triangle?

I mean they were clearly all well and truly alive when it was built after all.

    cannedbeeria 10:03 pm 20 Sep 18

    Firstly, Chewie, I was not at the meeting, but I do remember when the lake wasn’t there, and I for one, was very much in favour of the lake being built.
    Hence I am not so favourable to the idea of filling it in. Seems a waste of effort.
    Why would you say that people who are experienced in Canberra’s history, would want to demolish the dam and dry up the lake? Bit presumptuous wasn’t it?

    chewy14 8:52 am 21 Sep 18

    Cannedbeeria,
    It’s a joke.

    These people are completely anti development yet don’t acknowledge the fact that their precious lake only exists because of development.

    It’s massively ironic.

David Murn 10:35 am 19 Sep 18

Seriously, why bother with any design rules anymore? The government has shown that design/planning rules count for nothing when developers flash a wad of cash. If government won't even respect the rights of the first town planner, what makes anyone think they'll respect the rights and ideas of the next town planner?

Justin Watson 8:16 am 19 Sep 18

Protect certain parts of the lake, but everywhere I go around the world, the way to get the lake/river etc as a focal point of the city and to maximise use is to have more cafes/restaurants/leisure facilities. The City 2 the Lake plan was a good idea, until they decided the land bridge was too expensive to build. Yes apartments only is a bad idea, but until people put forward ideas of where people can live, rather than a dream ideology of everyone living in the suburbs on a 1000sqm blocks, apartments will continue to be built, because people need somewhere to live.

Sue Ellen 6:59 am 19 Sep 18

Has anyone stood at the little park near the Causeway and looked towards the lake through the concrete jungle y that is the Kingston Foreshore Development? So awful. So sad.

Paul South 11:59 pm 18 Sep 18

If thats what it takes to keep the bland pathetic excuses of architecture being errected by the labour partys mates. Then yes list it .

Paula Barnett 10:50 pm 18 Sep 18

Agree. With all the infill going on we need to be preserving open space. No more building poorly landscaped sterile apartment blocks and creating traffic and parking problems....

Bill Jackson 10:43 pm 18 Sep 18

Why isn't it Lake Walter Griffin or Lake Walter Burley Griffin? Why just his middle name?

Tim Cole 10:39 pm 18 Sep 18

Nah. It should be filled back in with exclusive riverfront apartments along the banks of the Molonglo.

Chris Tony 10:10 pm 18 Sep 18

I don't know how any one can be opposed to developing West basin. It's all carparks right now, development will draw people to the lake so people can actually enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Heritage listing the whole lake is a terrible idea and will severely effect the progress of the city

    Chele Forest 10:39 pm 18 Sep 18

    F*** "the progress of the city". The charm of canberra has been killed by all this 'progress'.

    Chris Tony 12:08 am 19 Sep 18

    Chele Forest can't stay a small country town forever. Gotta grow up some time. The focus should be on doing it right, not on trying to stop it

    Chele Forest 3:23 am 19 Sep 18

    The fact that the charm of canberra has been killed is evidence that 'growing up' has been done pitifully.

Kate McMahon 10:01 pm 18 Sep 18

But also, Canberra needs all kinds of urban renewal, the Lake projects are good maybe and may not really hurt the values but I think right now we should focus all the available moneys on really crappy places like Woden town centre. And get the tram done! Do it right, go across Commonwealth Ave bridge, through kingo to Wodes, connect down to the south, to Condor or Cooma or some bird 🦅 ofprey name. Then connect all the satellite ‘towns’, maybe even Quangers 😮. Totes Grifff plans🤗

    Kate McMahon 10:11 pm 18 Sep 18

    Satellite towns are Tuggers, Gungahlin, prob also includes Mitchell-Fyshwick Connection (which BTW was a band name my boyfriend 20 yrs ago was considering ~ happily he went w Caution Horses due to the availability of signage 😊). The other towns are Coolo, the City, Jamo, Belco, and now probably Majura Park. There may be another city emerging to our north, but I refuse to accept it, too much change for a cardigan wearer 😳😊

Leigh Thwaite 9:52 pm 18 Sep 18

I like the idea of careful planning involving the community and restrictions on massive apartment buildings going up around the lake. Keep it green, for fitness, and heritage, not for the developers. That’s my 2c

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