20 September 2005

Saving Verdon Street

| Integra
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Help needed in saving Verdon Street!

As per all of the inner suburbs of Canberra, we are being invaded by the developer/urban infill virus. If you have ever been in our street you will know that it is a beautiful tree lined street with many traditional red brick houses, grassy front lawns and beautiful street scape. To add to this we are a close knit group with a majority of the residents being families who all get along. This truely is a beautiful piece of Canberra, we have share christmas bbqs, fireworks nights, games of street cricket and soccer etc…

Due to all the recent developments in the area our little street has become a parking lot. A majority of the traffic is from the people who work in the nearby offices on Northbourne too cheap to pay for parking right outside their building (you are damaging the environment by driving learn to pay for parking like the rest of us). This has lead to our garbage not being collected on 3 occasions over the past few months because the garbo’s can’t fit the trucks into the street or when they do squeeze in they can’t get to the bins due to some ‘bright spark’ parking right in front of them.

Whilst this is bad enough we are now being invaded by a proposed development at the end of our street, who has kindly offered Verdon Street as vistor parking in its planning. On top of the extra noise, traffic and the impact the surrounding houses the proposed units are to be a complete eyesore.

We held a street meeting with the proposed developer last night to discuss the impact. He just said that he didn’t have to listen to any of our concerns as he was happy face us in the AAT. Where I am sure he will bring a lawyer and some paid off experts. We are seeking assistance from other ACT residents who have appealed developments in their area. We are have until next week to lodge our objections and we would love to get some assistance in if not stopping the development at least having our concerns regarding safety, parking, traffic, visual and financial impact on the other houses.

Thanks in advance..

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Zealot is a bit rich, there must be streets in Reid I never travel on and I admit to only a cursory knowledge of Campbell’s streets. Yes both suburbs have had some development, Turner, Braddon and now it looks like O’Connor have had whole streets bulldozed and redeveloped admittedly over a few years but the wholesale change has occured. Reid and Campbell being originally homes to wealthier white people with large blocks by and large have had the odd development but no the wholesale streetscape change. Yet from a planning point of view those large blocks should of been the first to be rezoned. Turner (the flat bits at any rate) had a lot of eastern european immigrants (look at what clubs established there) who are probably easier to buy out or bully away. Its not just $$ there is very obviously a choice that retired well connected senior military and public service people who live/d between Civic and Russell were not worth offending, those suburbs with non anglo less connected people were easier to develop. Perhaps its a relationship between wealth and access to political, business and legal leverage, but that does not make any argument that uses the word class wrong.

Back to Verdon St – its almost a logical extension of Macleay St which means that their is almost solid line of hi-rise development from Barry Drive to Macarthur Ave. Obviously Forbes street and all streets East of McCaughey/MacPherson are now likely to dissapear, drive through that area the number of single storey or duplex houses left is not very many accept for the heritage listed area behind sullivans creek and Haig park.

This debate is about who should really benefit from these wholesale changes, the community or the developers. The other issue, is given the leasehold system we have, why on earth wasn’t a better planning process built to start with.

Consultation in the ACT generally means dropping a leaflet to one street, or holding one meeting, advertised only in the back of the Chronicle.
Last nght was interesting (DRagway process meeting). Jon Stanhope has sent letters to everyone who wrote to him about it, saying that we would be represented by community representatives on a committe. The committee members last ngiht told us they could not actually take community feedback, but were chosen for their individual expertise.
So essentially there is no chance for consultation on this one. But you can be the govt will say there was.

For what it is worth, my comment above was in response to your initial posting, and not to your unnecessary and petulant second posting.

The fact is that providing carparks isn’t free. When land in central areas is given over to parking there is an opportunity cost in that the land can’t be sold for other purposes. As you note, much of the land in Civic that was previously for parking has been sold and is being developed. So charging for parking isn’t only some way of encouraging us all to take buses or walk, it also is a means of compensating for the benefits that the community would otherwise get from the land if it were used for other purposes – both through the financial proceeds of sales of prime land and also through the amenity that is brought from having real estate in the centre of town used for a purpose other than holding “immobile vehicles”. Additionally, I think the user pays principle is entirely appropriate here – rather than expecting someone to provide somewhere for cars to be left out of pure benevolence, it is appropriate that when someone needs to make use of such a facility they should have to pay for it.

Thumper: “Why should people who already pay taxes have to put more money into the government coffers just so they can go to work?”

Only in Canberra do people think they have a god-given right to free parking.

Anyway, the issue here isn’t paid or free parking, it is just (non-)availability of *any* parking.

tempestas you are deluded if you think campbell and reid were avoided by developers. the ex-guvvie i used to live in was demolished and replaced with 4 townhouses!

still zealots have to bring class into everything, when its really $$ that rules.

interesting that with all the comments here over parking not one person has commented on the fact that efficient public transport in the form of light rail would alleviate much of the parking shortfall.

Cheers Simto..

It turns out I’ve actually parked a street further back in Bagpt Street(the parking in Verdon Street is 3 hours only). So I apologse for the error there.

And, since it’s not a bin-collection day today, I’m not blocking anyone’s bins. I know – I’ve checked (yet again, couldn’t get a park in my building when arriving at 8AM today).

I am aware of some underutilized parking that’s about another five minutes walk away from my office (over the other side of O’Connor Oval, for example). And if parking was made illegal in that street, I’d probably end up using it.

Which doesn’t change your underlying point, which is that, yes, developers should have to consider and pay for the local impact of their buildings – which includes providing sufficient parking. Giving them a freebie like that is not what I’d call a particularly good planning process. But it’s not necessarily a good idea to chuck out gratuitous insults at people who are victims of exactly the same thing that’s screwing you guys (i.e. lack of provided parking with new buildings).


Now I can’t help from a legal aspect, and if you can’t get it stopped you just might want to make it difficult for the developer so that he might think twice about building in a similar location again. You mentioned that sometimes the garbage truck can’t get down the street for the parked cars. I would suggest that much larger trucks will have to get down the street to deliver building material for the development. Maybe a few strategically, legally parked cars at the start of the street could make it annoying for the developer to get material to the site. Also developers are notorious for cutting corners, so make sure they are staying within noise and safety restrictions. A safety inspection for two can really delay development. And development delays cost money.

Also I suggest getting your hands on a few of those orange road marking cones. A friend had the same parking/bin collection problem as you and used orange cones to mark out a spot in front of his house to great effect. The people parking in your street are most likely too lazy to move them.

Simto – You are totally wrong about the parking situation and ACT roads agree. They have indicated to us several designated parking areas in the region that are under utilised, perhaps you may wish to call them for directions?

Or start clock watching your parking unless you like making $68 (or whatever it is) donations to the Government.

As for slashing your tyres I don’t agree with that but if our bins don’t get emptied again because of you may find you have some extra luggage to take home with you on garbage day. We pay our rates like everyone else to have our garbage taken and to have access to our street.

As for you saying it is legal so live with it. It is legal because we live there and we get legitimate visitors who would like be able to park near our houses, not 3 blocks away to come over for a coffee and piece of cake!

Thanks to all the positive comments, we know that development is inevitable but consultation and reasonable options for development should be considered and these people just want to make it about $ and lawyers.

We are not wingers but people who want just want to maintain an equitable level of safety, access and lifestyle that valued when we moved here.

Yet again thanks to all positive comments!

Inner south (my suburb) residents have a certain activist to thank who had the foresight to archive a pledge from our Planning Minister before the election that the proposed infill wouldn’t happen. We’re keeping that in the ammo locker. Oh, and we also think Corbell’s Dad lives in our suburb.

Future changes in the pipeline will change the law so you cannot object and delay development

Thank you STR.

It’s all part of the utopian vision to get us on buses and riding cycles in those green bike lanes.

Not in my backyard.

Unless the development is in breach of planning regulations or guidelines you dont have a leg to stand on…. perhaps you should have thought about that at the last election and put people in the Assembly who were prepared to fix the planning problems in this town.

Not another bloody development in the Inner North that is a) ugly, b) over priced c) shoddily built and d) destroys the amenity of those living in the street. Wait that is the planning acceptance criteria.

I accept that over time land use changes and once suburbs need to change density etc, but why o why does it have to involve scummy developers making massive profits. Its a shame the developers are allowed to hide behind their shelf companies, if they had to put their name and address on this signs then the whole street could go and park at their place for a couple of days.

There are still serious planning and development issues in Canberra that must be fixed, we have heaps of land but house prices are beyond first home-buyers unless you live in the two car 30-40 minute commute, at least Sydney has geography as an excuse.

Maybe we need to look at the existing open spaces and see what we can use that land for, and maybe we need extra special rates for suburbs that developers live in.

Hate to point out the obvious, but Reid and Campbell are just as close as Turner and O’Connor yet as they were orginally not working class the developers have not been as active. Lets get the Govt to bulldoze all those lawyers and property developers homes in Reid and turn that into Medium density highrise. You could have a view of the lake and it would make Civic look more like a city.

I say lets make it a law that developers must give their home address on all their planning docs, see how they like their amenity being changed.

Vic Bitterman8:41 pm 20 Sep 05

Damn Nimbys. Whingers the lot of them.

The developers lobby controls planning in the ACT by it’s influence over the major political parties and thus the planning authority. The Parking Guidelines are a joke, a cost to be avoided as it affects the bottom line. Future changes in the pipeline will change the law so you cannot object and delay development. LAPACs were a hinderence to development so they were abolished.
Get committed people organised and learn the rules so you can save your street and community.

Hm, just had a look at my street directory, and, what do you know, I’m one of those people parking in Verdon street (or the street just back from it) on a fairly regular basis.

There IS no pay parking in the immediate area. And, like it or lump it, parking in your street is free (except on Fridays, when there are restrictions clearly marked).

The building I work in does have parking provided – however, this carpark fills up fairly rapidly (last week, it was full by a quarter to eight AM). There isn’t any pay parking particularly close to our building – yes, I suppose I could go and park over in Dickson or Civic, but that seems kinda counter-productive to the idea of parking somewhere near where I work. So, oddly enough, people aren’t parking in front of your house because it’s too cheap. They’re parking becuase, get this, it’s legal. If it isn’t legal, you can get a car towed.

People who suggest random tyre slashing – how’s about I come around to your car next time it’s legally parked and slash your tyres?

This one is for northside residents concerned about the Dragway proposal for behind Mt MAjura. You would probably meet a few usefull people. downer Community Association seemed to have the most success against S Corbell in the past. Newspaper coverage is always good – why not ring the Crhonicle one day for a photo opp when the parking is really bad? Even better if you can geta disabled person who can’t get in their driveway etc.

Che’s suggestion is a good one. It would make an excellent media stunt. Make sure you issue press releases to all the media outlets and and have some kiddies around looking forlorn.

Hire security and block off the street and only allow residents in

Bonfire – it is a residential but according to the developer they do not need to provide vistor parking and only need to provide on space per unit (regardless of one or two bedroom).

nails in the car tyres of the folk who know they should not park there. easy as. or drop a steamer on each bonnet. not as safe as legal action, but alot more satisfying

Dear Integra,

To a large extent, you are on your own. There is a Community Council for North Canberra (http://www.nthcanberracc.org.au/), and it may be worth your while contacting the Downer Community Association (http://www.nthcanberracc.org.au/Downer.htm) as they have dealt with DAs in A10 areas in North Canberra in the past.

Forget about ACTPLA being any sort of assistance – they are firmly in the developer’s court. Likewise with Corbell – not only is he pro-development and anti-resident, he has firmly closed his mind (and heart) to the needs and wishes of ordinary Canberrans. My view is that Corbell’s sole achievement as Planning Minister is that he has managed to make Brendan Smyth look like a planning genius.

It is worth contacting Deb Foskey’s office, as the Greens are expressing concern over the random destruction of community values in A10 areas; however, with a majority government, there is not much they can do. Vicki Dunne used to, and Zed Seselja sort of does, criticise Corbell over the so-called “Garden City variation” which allows this sort of development in core areas. However, the Libs were no better when they were in government.

You may want to consider establishing your own neighbourhood group – a great example of a single-issue pressure group is the Karralika Action Group (see http://www.kag.org.au). They had great success in shutting down a proposed “refurbishment” of Karralika which was really a major development in disguise and gave Corbell quite a bloody nose. KAG’s longer-term success is yet to be seen.

Best of luck!

Is the development residential or commercial ? If its residential i think you will find they have to provide parking.

other avenues you might want to try are:
-The Environmental Defenders Office, as they may take on this cause at no/low cost to you or others
-The ACT Law Society also have a scheme called the Pro Bono Clearing House which means that if you meet some basic requirements they will put you in touch with a lawyer/firm who will provide you with some lawyerly help (just be aware that Pro Bono does not mean free, it means they won’t charge you for their time, there may be admin fees if they have to submit any paperwork etc) but will usually meet with you free for the first time to listen to what you have to say
-Could always go for paid legal advice

I’m sure there are some other paths to follow tho

Samuel – it is in O’Connor near the crossing to get to St Joseph’s.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart3:31 pm 20 Sep 05

I could look it up in a map, but I’m too lazy, where is Verdon Street?

Start slashing some tyres. That might solve your carparking woes.

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