18 March 2017

Rueing the changing landscape of the inner south

| Roger Allnutt
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new apartments corner of Arthurs Circle and Ducane

Why are the local government and developers so keen to destroy the traditional landscape of the inner south (and other areas of Canberra)?

I have been fortunate to live in the inner south for over 32 years and have a real attachment to the area. I have become used to seeing attractive tree lined streets and houses that complement neighbouring properties. I also enjoy the spacious and well-maintained gardens.

I am of an ‘older’ age group and appreciate the landscape of the inner south and want it maintained. Over time many houses have become dated and need major repair or replacement. Clearly, changes will occur, but the rampant intrusion by unsympathetic changes is destroying the character of the area.

In the past five years or so there has been a trend to replace this older stock with multi-apartment style buildings, sometimes taking up the area previously housing two homes. In some cases like the Ambassador in Deakin (which replaced the old Embassy Motel) the new building is quite simpatico with the surrounding area.

new apartments corner of Empire Circcuit and Bougainville

New RZ2 zoning near shopping centres has added to the proliferation of these larger, overwhelming apartment complexes, although fortunately in the inner south the very high rise (ie 10-12 story and more complexes now springing up in other parts of Canberra) have so far been avoided.

Another concern is the dearth of architectural merit in many of these developments, which usually appear incongruous and confronting within the landscape of the area. Some have large, overpowering entrances or are crammed so close to neighbouring houses as to block out light and amenity for those properties. Gardens are almost non-existent. So much for Walter Burley Griffin’s ‘garden city’ concept.

It appears to many older residents that the aim of the ACT Government is to ‘force’ them to downsize, so opening up opportunities for further ‘infill’. The incredible rates now charged in the inner south and the foreshadowed further increases each year will exacerbate this “push”. As the main source of revenue for the government is through land sales and property transfer fees, the pressure to infill the area will continue unabated.

I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but some of the recent developments in the inner south are quite ugly. The impact on neighbouring properties is totally ignored. I find the present development next to St Christopher’s Cathedral to be singularly unattractive – the trees on the Franklin St side will totally block out the light for units facing the street. There are plenty of other examples.

part of new complex next to St Christophers

Which developments do you find unattractive?

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While I live on the Northside now, I lived in the inner south for years, and I can see myself moving back there one day.

If I do, it’ll probably be into a low-rise apartment just like this.

They’re certainly not all to my taste, but some of them are, and given they all seem to be selling, they must be to someone’s.

It’s certainly true there aren’t many places where 10-12 stories would work very well.

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