Developer Hindmarsh’s plans for a parcel of land abutting the Red Hill Nature Reserve in Deakin have been dealt a blow with the release on Wednesday of the draft Integrated Plan for Red Hill Nature Reserve and Surrounds which says it should remain offices and open bushland.
The draft plan is the result of a 2017 Legislative Assembly motion aimed at concerns about Hindmarsh’s plans and the Federal Golf Club’s proposal for a retirement village, which the plan says could be built at the southern end of the course.
Hindmarsh had originally wanted to build 500 units on Section 66 on Kent Street but sought to include a massive storage facility on the 25 ha site and a zoning change from the current Transport and Services Zone TSZ2 to CZ5 mixed use when the Assembly required the integrated plan, prompting a moratorium on residential development.
But the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate backed objections, telling Hindmarsh the application required an Environment Impact Study, including referral to the Commonwealth, and should be lodged in the impact track. Hindmarsh has been reviewing its options.
Now the draft plan says the land is not suited to residential development and part of it should be included in the surrounding Deakin Office Park and the rest remain as open space.
It recommends that the land be rezoned from TSZ2 to partly Commercial CZ2 Business Zone to take in the Telstra building and the Deakin Offices, and partly PRZ1 Urban Open Space to reflect the ecological values of the site.
The outcome is a win for the Red Hill Regenerators, other groups and residents such as Jacky Fogerty, who have long argued the site contained critically endangered woodland and was an important habitat for threatened species.
There were also concerns about the proposal’s proximity to the old Deakin tip which the draft plan says the Government should cap.
The Federal Golf Club has fared better with the draft plan giving the thumbs up to a 125-unit retirement village at the southern end of the course, instead of the preferred northern site. But it says the range of uses permitted on the golf course should be limited under the existing PRZ2 Restricted Access Recreation Zone, and an 18-hole golf course and associated uses should be retained.
Access to the retirement village would be from Kitchener Street, and access to the golf club would still be via Gowrie Drive.
The plan seeks to protect the environment on the site, particularly at the interface with the Red Hill Nature Reserve, hollow-bearing trees, and where continuous corridors can be provided.
“This can be managed through careful location and design of the retirement village, the golf course greens and associated infrastructure,” it says.
But Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur, whose eventual amendment paved the way for the draft plan, said the Greens would only support development if the Golf Club was financially unsustainable without it, ecological areas were protected, tree loss was minimised, adjoining residents’ amenity was protected and the proposal was limited to a retirement village with the community on board.
“These planned developments have been a huge concern to local residents and environment groups,” she said. “The Greens don’t want to see inappropriate development, and we want to protect the important ecological values and amenity of the Red Hill nature reserve. We’re also concerned to ensure the Government properly includes and listens to the community throughout this process.”
She welcomed the rezoning recommendations for Section 66 and the intention to cap the former tip site.
Overall, the draft plan seeks to preserve the Red Hill area’s ecological values, retaining open space adjoining and links to the Red Hill Nature Reserve, and recommending buffers around the golf course and associated development.
It says Red Hill Nature Reserve should be managed along the lines of the Canberra Nature Park and the National Capital Plan, and the Residential RZ1 suburban zoning for residential blocks adjoining the Red Hill Nature Reserve should be retained.
On traffic, the plan says that key roads will need upgrades or need to be assessed for future upgrades in response to growing use.
The draft plan has been developed in response to a resolution of the Legislative Assembly of 25 October 2017, which called on the Government to:
- Not proceed with separate Territory Plan Variations for residential development for Section 66, Kent Street Deakin, the Federal Golf Course and for sites immediately adjacent to Red Hill Nature Reserve, and
- Only proceed with a joint Territory Plan Variation for sites after completion of an integrated plan for Red Hill Nature Reserve and surrounding residential areas.