27 September 2005

Seven Story Simon at it Again

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The CT has this story on Simon Corbell redesigning Canberra and its busways (again).

Comments and submissions will close on October 17. The preliminary assessment is available at public libraries, the ACT Planning Authority, and on its web site, www.actpla.act.gov.au

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I’m not talking about “priority lanes” I’m talking about busways and they’re just a much a sign as light rail is.

A busway gives you certainty of destination, but it also gives you the ability to go somewhere after the busway ends rather than having to wait for a connecting bus, which you’d have to do with light rail.

Now I like light rail becuause I’d rather catch light rail than buses, but it is more expensive (both to set up and to maintain) and if a busway is what the government can afford now I think it’s a prety good solution. Plus the vast majority of busway infrastructure would be needed for a future light rail anyway.

areaman – even the govts own reports and its consultants stated that light rail attracts more passengers. this is also the experience of all cities in which lightrail has been installed.

the govt are only planning this one busway from belco to civic. the gungahlin to civic is a ‘priority lane’. so i cant see how a priority lane for buses will convince developers to build when the government could decide to route the buses via woop woop west at a whim. when the light rail tracks are laid, thats a sign of permanence that buses just dont have.

travel on lightrail attracts passengers for all sorts of reasons. its a more comfortable less jarring experience than buses. it is higher capacity, more room. with the rails telling you where youre going you have certainty. action buses meander all over the place.

the busway is a public funding sinkhole. lightrail is an investment.

Cheers Chris; good work.

Why is it we cannot have a discussion without it turning to light rail? The idea does have it’s merits (much like the busway), but as I have stated before I can see the Gov’t issuing us all with jet-packs before we have a light rail network.

Wow, kick arse discussion guys (honestly) – I’m impressed.

I’ll just say one thing about keeping unemployment figures low bonfire – much easier just to redefine what unemployment is. Anyone working more than 1 hr a week was removed from these stats relatively early in the Howard reign.

Bonfire, just to go through your list when comparing to a busway (not that I’m a huge basway fan, I’d rather light rail as well, but let’s not try and paint a one sided argument):

it provides a guide for development both residential and business – so would a busway

it lessens the requirement for two car households – no more than good busses

it can carry far higher capacity than buses.

it reduces the requirement for inner city carparking (which in canberra is dirt cheap compared to other cities) – so would a busway

it takes buses off the main intertown roads – so would a busway

it will attract far higher passenger figures than buses – impossible to prove

some excellent comments and analysis on act development.

while light rail is initially more expensive to construct, it has advantages:

it provides a guide for development both residential and business.

it lessens the requirement for two car households.

it can carry far higher capacity than buses.

it reduces the requirement for inner city carparking (which in canberra is dirt cheap compared to other cities).

it takes buses off the main intertown roads.

it will attract far higher passenger figures than buses.


No I’m not with Stats. However, I’m a great disciple of ABS, as it provides a foundation for all analysis of public policy. Of course, stats should never be used on their own – they all need some interpretation and placing in context.

For the ACT data, the official demography site is http://www.cmd.act.gov.au/demography/2004to2014/index.htm. It’s worth browsing just for the fun of it. The Land Development Agency has an activity monitor showing developments across the Territory at http://www.lda.act.gov.au/news_publications/publications.html.

Chris S – Just taking a punt, but you work at ABS don’t you? Not being facetious, it’s interesting to have the numbers in front of us. Thanks for taking the time for that essay, although if not ABS figures I wold be curious to know where they have come from…

Stick with me guys, particularly those of you interested in population stats.

The very rationale behind documents such as the Spatial Plan are badly flawed, as the planners have taken a population scenario which is not only improbable, but defies all logic at a time of water shortages and other social phenomena such as blended families, ageing, sea changing, etc. The planners have used some spurious population figures of up to 460,000 in the ACT by 2032, when the ACT demographer says that this would be around 389,000. The higher, fanciful figure (hoped for, no doubt, by the developer/growth lobby) is a very high-end projection by the ABS that was out of date at the time the Spatial Plan was written and using such a scenario flies in the face of all commonsense and any prudent analysis. I recently had a re-look at the various demographic/building stats, which show some interesting disconnects. Canberra’s population in 2002 was 322,000 (325,100 as at 31/3/2005), and is projected to grow to 389,000 by 2032, and 398,000 by 2050, and then start to decline. There is a current growth rate of 0.4% (national average is 1.1%) and is falling inexorably – see Canberra Times of 23 September 2005 for confirmation of these figures).

In 2002, we had 126,300 households, which is projected to grow to 173,500 by 2032, peak in 2052 (the number of households then is not projected), and again decline after that. (Note, I have taken these figures direct from the demographer’s report, but different figures are quoted in the Spatial Plan – I haven’t tracked down why the differences, but I suspect some selective quoting by ACTPLA).

Therefore, the housing growth over the next 30 years is 1,573 pa on average, being 1,900-2,000 each year over the next few years, and dropping to less than 600 new homes each year by 2032. The LDA puts out great reports on the various building projects – there are currently 4,380 dwellings in the Builders Pipeline (ie those that are approved and many are under construction); the Developers Pipeline has 1,492 sites (these are areas like East O’Malley where servicing has commenced or been completed, and where builders are yet to lodge DAs), with another 500 or so sites each year being redeveloped privately; and the Planners Pipeline, which shows 783 DAs lodged but no building application, and a further 2,396 multi-unit proposals.

If we add all building projects up (9,551), there is enough building activity to satisfy all Canberra’s needs until 2009.

The bottom line is that Canberra has been over-producing for quite some time, generally at the behest of the development lobby, and there is a looming glut in the short-term, at a time when the government’s own demographics show that population growth is in decline. The implications of all this is that rather than having a paced development program, consisting of a reasonable mix of infill, renewal, brownfields, and greenfields developments, there will be disconnects between the various sources of sites.

That’s why we’re seeing so much high-rise development, and seven-storey Simon is right behind it. That’s also why urban infill is causing such a ruckus – developer’s find it cheap and easy, and under this pro-development anti-resident regime, it gets the green light every time.

Just as an aside, I note in the last City News (“Shitty” News, as called by one of your subscribers), the developer’s mouthpiece, Catherine Carter of the PCA says: “A target of 500,000 people by 2030 is not unreasonable given the dynamic nature of Canberra’s economy.” What drivel from the development lobby – that would require the current annual rate of increase to rise from 0.4% (and falling) to 2.2%. Fat chance, Catherine!


Good points, Bonfire. Why is this Govt so anti light rail?

public infrastructure supports building industry while private construction starts to wane. its a pump prime economic tactic. like a govt employing extra staff to keep unemployment numbers low.

of course there is nothing wrong with public infrastructure projects, as long as they are sane. a 100 million dollar busway, is not to me, sane.

for that price you would get the first link of a lightrail network.

swings and roundabouts.

Thumper, Che et al: I think it take longer than a year to get to having tower cranes and big holes in the ground (even with call in powers) so I don’t think majority government can be the cause.

Maybe Simon wants to go down in history for changing the face of Canberra from “Bush Capital” to “Highrise Capital”?

The problem is, don’t we already have a glut of apartments/office space here?

Smackbang, that’s cause you don’t read the appropriately misplaced comma:

Mr Corbell said the $12million project would include a significant offset from the sale of land, (comma) and developments by the private sector.

Significant offset from the sale of land ?

That reads the end of schools in the area known as Belconnen to me

maybe the majority govt has something to do with it

they can anything they like and no one can tell them otherwise

Getting back on the ball; I have also noticed an increase in development. Can anyone explain this? Maybe it’s just that we haven’t been paying attention, but many recent articles point to this as well. Without linking to each and every one of them there was a photo of all the cranes over the city, the sky plaza articles, the Belconnen construction, now back to the busways….

Seems to be a lot happening, or maybe we’re just stepping forward from a long period of inaction. Any thoughts?

Gyrocopters? If everyone rode a Camel to work, we wouldn’t need a busway.

Gyrocopters Simon. We need Gyrocopters.

The way I read this comment:
Mr Corbell said the $12million project would include a significant offset from the sale of land and developments by the private sector.
Is that it will be offset by the sale of land and developments in that immediate vicinity, so it has nothing to do with the sale of some paddock in west Belconnen.

Mr Corbell said the $12million project would include a significant offset from the sale of land and developments by the private sector. = waiting on proceeds from the sale of school property

Funds for the design of that busway had been approved. He expected that by the end of this financial year the Government would be able to make a decision on whether to provide the $80million to $100million for the construction, which would take about18 months. = waiting on proceeds from the sale of school property

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