Canberra residents have noticed that whenever the Chief Minister and his LDA/Directorate bureaucrats want to send in the bulldozers into an established suburb, that they use the same propaganda. They do this despite the fact that no-one believes the spin, which is not based on an honest translation of the residents’ aspirations as expressed time and time again.
In the latest version of information about the Dickson Parklands the spin yet again includes the generalised statement that “in 2010, Canberra got together to talk about the future of our city through Time to Talk: Canberra 2030. The discussion helped us better understand what Canberrans value about their city; what they want from it in the future as the population grows and ages; and the environmental resilience and economic diversity they expect.”
And there’s more: “Canberrans said that they want more housing choices, but want those choices built in a way that values and protects our garden suburbs. They also said they want urban growth focused on transport corridors and town and group centres, with more choice of affordable housing and diverse communities.”
As with so many of the LDA/Directorate proposals this then leads to statements such as: The government has therefore focused on these broad values to propose developments that could deliver:
- A mixed use precinct to build vibrancy and sense of community
- An active precinct to encourage greater surveillance and increased public safety
- Renewed spaces to increase the overall appeal of the area
- Connections across the site.
The government has trundled out yet again, the well tried argument that “neglected spaces will become active and vibrant and public safety and connections across the site improved.”
Residents are always on guard when this government uses the word ‘vibrant’.
Given that these criteria are being used in and around Dickson and other suburban areas, we thought it would be interesting to test these criteria on some other ‘neglected’ and ‘underutilised’ and ‘overlooked’ spaces.
On a beautiful sunny Sunday a couple of us went exploring to see other inner Canberra sites and then used the same set of points to justify the proposing of a residential development that could include a range of facilities.
It did not take us long to settle on a site that is very much under utilised, is close to the shops, has links through to public transport and would fit in with the aim to intensify the availability of residential opportunities in Canberra’s inner north.
In fact we have easily ticked all the boxes in the criteria that is rolled out each time by the chief minister, his LDA/directorate bureaucrats and the property council.
The site is composed of two sets of open spaces in the middle of Reid.
Our innovative proposal is that both the Dirrawan Gardens and the Gerrilong Gardens fit the criteria being used to justify infill developments in other parts of Canberra.
Both these open spaces are largely underused and would provide brilliant new opportunities for four sets of architecturally well-designed vibrant three storey residential units.
There is a precedent for this proposal, as there are already many apartments in Reid with a very popular complex, the Monterey Apartments, located on the edge of Reid opposite Glebe Park. The Monterey should be used a model for the architectural style for these new apartments.
There are some community facilities on the site, such as a childcare centre, a tennis court and a couple of sets of play equipment. All these could be incorporated into the new developments. The tennis court could be on the top of one of the four buildings along with other green roof/park amenities.
While it would be necessary to remove some established trees, careful planning should allow for a more than token number to be incorporated as part of the overall amenity of the new complexes – as is being proposed for the Dickson Parklands.
Given that the suburb has probably its fair share of our aging population, it is proposed that the major part of one of the four complexes be given over to a new aged persons residential complex.
Given the present land values and therefore the very high expected sale price (the LDA/economic directorate should love that), the government would be able to easily insist that the developers provide a more than generous supply of affordable housing.
The new residential units would provide close links to the business hub of Canberra and other cultural activities in Civic and the centre of Canberra, would have easy links to transport, and being within minutes of the Civic area, they would be a boost for local businesses. Therefore one would expect very vocal support from the business and property sectors.
The four complexes, if well designed with an appropriate amount of green court yards and green roofs, would provide the residents with the pleasure of belonging to a well-established suburb.
Given that property industry bosses, senior public sector employees and numerous land and planning agency chiefs have lived and continue to reside in and around Reid, I am sure that they will enthusiastically embrace the proposal for such a residential innovation for this established suburb.
If it has been good enough for these chiefs and the bureaucrats who live in these established areas to use such justifications for the enormous changes proposed for suburbs such as Dickson, I am sure they would not simply cry that such things should not happen in their back yard!
Surely, they will agree that such a development would be ever so vibrant!