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Seeking a new future for Canberra planning

By Paul Costigan - 26 February 2015 3

planning dickson

The Canberra heritage lobby is engaged in a public stoush with the government as a result of the heritage ruling to hang onto one of the Northbourne Towers. I disagree with the heritage decision, as my view is that these towers are not worth fighting for.

However, I share the concern that we will most likely have a bland-box building plonked onto this valued site. This is the gateway to Canberra and we should have expected that a breathtaking concept would be in place not just for this site, but for this location as part of a new design vision for the whole Northbourne Avenue corridor. We wish!

Residents and local groups in Canberra are constantly forced to deal with ad hoc development proposals that are devastating our cherished suburban environments. The concept that our government should encourage development within a framework of enhancing the urban character and matching the aspirations of residents remains ‘pie in the sky’—and something not likely to happen under the present planning regimes.

The biodiversity of the inner suburbs is being reduced and nothing is being seriously proposed to address climate adaptation, solar, water re-use and energy issues within urban developments. Developers would have to be extremely generous to include such measures given the absence of such requirements. The recent Dickson supermarket development proposal was an outcome of this situation and ACTPLA’s laissez-faire approaches to aesthetics and sustainable settlements.

Despite the efforts by community councils, residents groups and many individuals, by the time they see the development application, all that remains is the opportunity to tinker with fine details. The core of these proposals has been locked in though previous agreements. It is so frustrating.

Sadly our politicians have a history of not taking residents seriously on planning issues. The default position remains to leave these decisions to the ‘professionals’ within the planning and development agencies. There is an ever-increasing gap between the policy spin by local politicians on urban and environmental issues and the devastating outcomes delivered into suburbs thanks to the ACT Government’s ineffectual planning regulations.

Given the nature of this city, Canberra should be showing the world how to deal with climate change through its urban development policy implementation. The present ACTPLA, with the blessing of ACT politicians, has become removed from the every day realities of delivering sustainable and engaging settlements across Canberra. The ACT Government’s planning infrastructure urgently requires a complete change to become relevant to residents, to the issues of the 21st Century and to delivering a liveable, sustainable and aesthetically welcoming urban environments for future generations.

Given the response from politicians is that we must leave such matters to the ‘planning professionals’, then maybe it is time that residents are given the opportunity every four years to vote the government planning and development executives in or out of office.

The coming months will be interesting. How will the government deal with residents’ rejection of the Dickson supermarket proposal? And I do suspect that when it comes to the forecasted proposal to dump residential towers on Section 72, the Dickson Parklands, that ACT politicians will have a fight on their hands as part of the next local elections.

What’s Your opinion?


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3 Responses to
Seeking a new future for Canberra planning
rommeldog56 10:49 pm 03 Mar 15

With the watering down/abolution of environmental considerations in the new infill buildings along the tran corridore and in that vacinity. The proposed new building in Dickson is a case in point. I wonder how that sits with Shane Rattenbury, Greens MLA and a Minister in the ACT Labor Government ?

Surely the ACT Greens would not support that ? I would have thought that such an issue should have caused Rattenbury to withdraw support for at least the redevelopment proposals.

Just goes to demonstrate that the ACT Greens should never have accepted a Ministerial position in the ACT Labor Gov’t. They have lost the green credentials and identity – big time. Will be interesting to see how the voters see that in the next ACT election.

rommeldog56 7:37 pm 01 Mar 15

rubaiyat said :

Considering how things get “passed” everywhere else, what makes you think things are any different here.

No decisions made down the Commonwealth Club over a good red, between “mates”?

Look how blatant the salacious and corrupt dealings in Wollongong were and no-one ever went to jail over it, and did any stinking, ugly building ever get demolished after they found out how they got approved?

I dont know much about the happenings in Wollongong. But what has happened elsewhere should not be allowed to happen in the ACT. Just because things happen elsewhere, is not an excuse for those to happen here.

In relation to what the ACT Labor/Greens Govt is proposing or has passed re planning along the light rail corridore, as I recall it includes :

1) Abolution of residents rights to appeal.
2) No or minimal environmental/green considerations (see new building proposal at Dickson for a taste of whats to come).
3) Severe reduction in the time available to the Legislative Assembly to scrutinise propsals.

Have ACT residents ever been involved in the overall redevelopment of Canberra – away from the Griffin plan to – to what. True, there is some public consultations on individual proposals – but what about the whole city plan ? Or is it just infill and more infill now ?

With the uncapping of the $ amount of donations to ACT political parties recently announced (and widely condemned), it will be interesting to see post discolsure of those, which developers or tram consortia donate how much to which political ACT partiers – and when.

rubaiyat 4:33 am 01 Mar 15

Considering how things get “passed” everywhere else, what makes you think things are any different here.

No decisions made down the Commonwealth Club over a good red, between “mates”?

Look how blatant the salacious and corrupt dealings in Wollongong were and no-one ever went to jail over it, and did any stinking, ugly building ever get demolished after they found out how they got approved?

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