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So, what sort of city is it we want to be living in?

johnboy 28 September 2009 24

Zed Seselja is hoping the public can give him some good ideas for urban planning.

This has been prompted by the Institute of Architects calling for an end to greenfields development in the ACT in favour of more high rise work (which incidentally means more work for architects).

Zed knows that family values votes flourish in suburban backyards so is in favour of building more of those as well as more infill.

    “I disagree with the calls to stop greenfield development. This development is an extremely important aspect of residential growth in the territory and the Canberra Liberals would like to see a structured roll out of greenfield land continue.

    “We want to encourage Canberra families to take up the opportunity to purchase their own home. In conjunction with this, there is also the need to have a cohesive intergraded planning structure that also encourages higher density living in and around major centres and transport corridors.

The Canberra Times this day informs us that rents in Canberra are rising again (although apparently still down on last year). The median weekly rent for a unit is $395, or around $21k per year. Effectively meaning that a pre-tax income of around $80, would be needed to call it affordable.

Personally I think infill has been a great success so far, bringing a greater vibrancy to the areas that have been lucky enough to enjoy it.

Putting more people near the fun bits of town? Who’d have thought that would be a winner?

Urban infill

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24 Responses to So, what sort of city is it we want to be living in?
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Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 9:58 am 17 Jul 09

ScrappyKat said :

In filing in Hackett and Watson would mean putting housing on the green belts that run through the suburbs.

Or in your back yards!

ScrappyKat ScrappyKat 9:39 am 17 Jul 09

In filing in Hackett and Watson would mean putting housing on the green belts that run through the suburbs.

the planning insider the planning insider 3:10 pm 16 Jul 09

The planning rules should be changed back to the situation which existed before Variation 200 which allowed for development of existing blocks over 800 sqm for dual occ and above 1400 sqm for multi-unit development.

sepi sepi 7:51 pm 12 Jul 09

People in high rises live as if in hotels, and thus use power without any thought about it.

Apartments tend to just have just ducted heating and cooling, where the occupant sets a dial near the front door and never thinks about it. Noone bothers closing curtains to keep the sun out etc.

And garbage disposal is shocking – things are hurled down a chute – including books/doonas etc, as well as compostibles.

I could easily believe high rise dwellers use plenty of power.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 6:09 pm 12 Jul 09

arescarti42 said :

What you say about suburbia is interesting Al, nothing that i really doubt, but a point of view I’ve not often come across. At the very least, public transport is certainly easier to deploy to areas of high density, and higher density settlements tend to have lower energy requirements (especially for transport).

I guess it is a bit unusual to question long-accepted mantra that “sprawl” is bad”, but it’s been a position developed over some years and responding to the strong rejection by people in Gungahlin of blocks that are now heading beyond 400 down to as little as 200 sqm.

This is aided by solid research showing that (seemingly counter-intuitively) high rise, and medium density housing are actually MORE energy/greenhouse intensive than detached housing. Couple this with the fact that GCC has actively campaigned for higher density development around the Gungahlin town centre, as opposed to the relentless sprawl of town houses right up to the very town centre core, which the LDA was dishing up to us.

I have always been a strong believer in the satellite city concept that kicked off Canberra’s design so well. It is to the eternal shame of planners and governments past and present that so much that is good about this approach has been unravelled by their poor decisions.

But all of this can be remedied substantially if we just get high-speed public transport links running between the town centres, and remake the public transport system instead of this current stupidity where every single route has to run all the way into Civic.

And this all goes back to the original quote (see #5) that with the right PT, there is absolutely nothing wrong with suburbia.

Massive yards Kobez? No – we’re talking about that endangered species, the moderate sized block between 500 and 700 sqm. With careful design and room choice you can maintain a back yard with these sizes, even without putting all your bedrooms on a second storey.

2604 – agree. Miz – thanks – but why do these things come up when you desperately need a haircut…?

PS: I believe that so much of the drive to smaller blocks here is driven by the fact that the ACT Government is utterly reliant on selling off the family silver to make budgets add up, and there is only so much land before they are up against the NSW border. There is something inherently unsustainable about the current ACT border placements.

miz miz 12:42 pm 12 Jul 09

Noise is a serious and growing issue when more people live in high and medium density:

http://www.science.org.au/nova/072/072key.htm

I love being able to escape into the peace and quiet of my suburban block, and I suspect lots of Canberrans feel likewise.

I think the Institute of Architects are talking thru their a*se – and my bet is they are all wealthy enough themselves to be able to live in a spacious block, so this kind of policy wouldn’t actually affect them.

(Sounds similar to the UK immigration policy of the 1960s, which – racial issues aside – politicians thought was ‘wonderful’ – but then, THEY were totally unaffected by the radical changes and consequent social upheaval their decision made on [for example] the East End of London, because THEY lived in [for example] St Johns Wood or Hampstead).

And they had better not touch the green belt areas that are so Bush Capital Canberra. The Stateline program suggested the horse paddocks in Deakin as a prime candidate. Hands off!
PS Al, you were very good!

Cobrico Cobrico 9:32 am 11 Jul 09

Land development is the great wealth-maker throughout Australian history, and Canberra is no different. It’s traditionally supported by influence behind closed doors (i.e. mates), donations to political parties, and precious little consideration for what the future might look like. So in Canberra we have a wierd city where quality public transport is unaffordable, where residential development is miles and miles away from the city centre, where cars are king, where subsidies masquerade as policy, where vested interests and their puppets appear more interested in green issues or land issues or trade union issues and nobody appears to take an overall view. Like most State Governments, the ACT Governments of all colours are invariably overcome by vested interests of the day. Nothing will change in this town until land developers can make more money in urban infill than in greenfields and we are probably 25 years away from that, so the architects will just have to be patient in the interim.

2604 2604 1:02 am 11 Jul 09

There needs to be more high-density housing in the town centres. Real high-density housing, too – high-quality, multi-story apartment blocks, with apartments that go up to a house-sized 150-200m2 and therefore present a real alternative to a home in the suburbs. What we have at the moment in most town centres is more like medium-density housing – townhouses, basically, most of which have small front and back yards. The apartments that do exist are mostly only suitable for singles or couples – they are usually 90m2 or less, and have stuff-all storage space.

The trade-off for more high-density housing in town centres could then be slightly larger blocks of 6-700m2 in what would be smaller suburbs overall.

Slightly off-topic, but if the ACT Government wants to avoid building endless roads and encourage the use of public transport, it should stop centralising office buildings in Civic, and (to a lesser extent) Woden. Zone for more office buildings in Belconnen, Tuggers and (especially) Gungahlin. Canberra was conceived as a series of town-centres; the idea was that people would live, work, shop, and attend school in the one town centre. Buses would run from the suburbs of each town centre to a concentration point (an interchange), where the limited number of people working outside the town centre in which they lived would then get a trunk route to the other town centres.

Now, we just have endless cars pouring out of Gungahlin, Belco and Tuggers, into Civic. Most people can get a bus from their home to their local town centre in about 10-15 minutes, but the extra time involved in getting from there into Civic makes public transport unviable for most.

GardeningGirl GardeningGirl 12:49 am 11 Jul 09

kobez_outlaw said :

Let the rest of us enjoy some higher density living in the places which are receiving very high growth.

Not disagreeing with people having the “right to choose to have no yard if that suits their lifestyle”. But there is very little being offered, and not at a reasonable price, for people who want to build again and take advantage of the new technologies and materials that were not available when larger blocks were the norm. It shouldn’t have to be a choice between a nice new home with all the latest environmentally friendly features OR a garden big enough for a dog, a veggie patch, a real clothesline and a bit of privacy from the neighbours.

YapYapYap YapYapYap 12:24 am 11 Jul 09

kobez_outlaw said :

-1.
The issue is a bit deeper than meeting the demand of a few locals who want massive gardens for their kids to frolick in. The demand for these type of people has easily been met as most suburbs in Tuggeranong, Woden and Belconnen has massive gardens and are very leafy.
There is a lot of demand for higher density living in Canberra as it is the logical and environmental solution. This is not just the case for residential development in Canberra, but also commercial. Think about how much land/damage we’ll be saving if we build a 100 meter tower in Civic rather than a 4 storey building which stretches over hundreds of meters of land in Barton.
If you want your typical suburban dream move to Tuggeranong as areas such as Wanniassa have had negative growth and there are plenty of houses to choose from. Let the rest of us enjoy some higher density living in the places which are receiving very high growth. :)[/quote

I follow that line of thought.

kobez_outlaw kobez_outlaw 12:03 am 11 Jul 09

-1.
The issue is a bit deeper than meeting the demand of a few locals who want massive gardens for their kids to frolick in. The demand for these type of people has easily been met as most suburbs in Tuggeranong, Woden and Belconnen has massive gardens and are very leafy.
There is a lot of demand for higher density living in Canberra as it is the logical and environmental solution. This is not just the case for residential development in Canberra, but also commercial. Think about how much land/damage we’ll be saving if we build a 100 meter tower in Civic rather than a 4 storey building which stretches over hundreds of meters of land in Barton.
If you want your typical suburban dream move to Tuggeranong as areas such as Wanniassa have had negative growth and there are plenty of houses to choose from. Let the rest of us enjoy some higher density living in the places which are receiving very high growth. 🙂

arescarti42 arescarti42 11:58 pm 10 Jul 09

Australianliberalist said :

They should be at least 700sqm so as to allow for a back yard. It is not resonable to expect families to live in units or houses with no yards. You will pay the price on a social level at a latter date if you ignore this need.

Hmmm, families in a lot of other countries make do with significantly less than 400m^2 blocks. Perhaps small blocks aren’t such an unreasonable thing if there is adequate community facilities (i.e. parks, ovals, etc.).

What you say about suburbia is interesting Al, nothing that i really doubt, but a point of view I’ve not often come across. At the very least, public transport is certainly easier to deploy to areas of high density, and higher density settlements tend to have lower energy requirements (especially for transport).

Some interesting graphs:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Petrol_use_urban_density.svg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Revised_petrol_use_urban_density.JP

Another point is the water requirement for suburban developments compared to higher density developments in a dry city like Canberra. I seem to remember that Australians have just about the highest per capita water usage in the world, and I’d be willing to bet a lot of that is due to watering suburban gardens in comparatively (to the rest of the world) arid areas.

GardeningGirl GardeningGirl 11:47 pm 10 Jul 09

Gungahlin Al said :

There are broader social and environmental aspects to this issue than just greenhouse too. People have a right to choose to have a yard for their kids to play in or to grow some food in, just as much as people have a right to choose to have no yard if that suits their lifestyle.

The RAIA is proposing a halt to all detached dwelling development. Instead they should be defending peoples’ right to choose, and calling on the ACT Government to ensure demand is met and exceeded, and greater choice is made available.

We also need to put the sword to this myth that “the market” is demanding smaller blocks. Ever shrinking blocks are all the ACT Government is making available to Canberra – either through their own development arm, or through the concept plans and development plans they are mandating on private developers.

+1

YapYapYap YapYapYap 11:32 pm 10 Jul 09

How did this get boosted on WIN news as “Zed has an original idea”?

What Zed wants is whatever his Croatian (and other) builder/developer mates want.

kobez_outlaw kobez_outlaw 10:13 pm 10 Jul 09

What we need is high density living in Civic more than anything. Height restrictions shouldn’t be so strict, we need possibly up to 100m highrises in Civic and maybe a height limit of 10 storeys in Braddon. High rises in Woden and Belconnen are all well and good but there is not much point in continuously sprawling Canberra’s population all over the place. All this urban sprawl the government creates has greatly affected our CBD, thus our image and tourism goes down the toilet. It would be nice for tourists to come here and have fun in our city aswell as be interested in the great things we have here, atm its unfortunate to say that most outsiders find Canberra to be dull.

Massive backyards and parks are great for outer suburbia, but in the central areas it should be all about High density living!!!!!!!

mred mred 10:10 pm 10 Jul 09

Canberra is big enough already. Something close to 45km from top to bottom.

I’m all for urban in fill, but not on vacant land / open spaces. We should develop the already residential zoned and ageing developments of the past.

farnarkler farnarkler 9:12 pm 10 Jul 09

Civic could do with a lot more high density units. Apart from the ones across from DJs, there isn’t much in the center of the city. If more were put up, ie redeveloping the block that Blades, Centrepoint, Roger Bartholomews, etc is in, Civic might become a bit livelier at nights in the middle of the week.

Australianliberalist Australianliberalist 7:26 pm 10 Jul 09

I am in support of high density development around areas that have strong infrastructure such as Woden, Gungahlin etc especially to support the many young single people in the ACT but we still need suburban development that allows for family homes and green areas for children to meet and play. I have noticed more recently developed blocks being around 400sqm but this is not sufficient. They should be at least 700sqm so as to allow for a back yard. It is not resonable to expect families to live in units or houses with no yards. You will pay the price on a social level at a latter date if you ignore this need.

54-11 54-11 6:10 pm 10 Jul 09

I like your comments, Al.

This whole debate seems to ignore that there are different forms of infill.

Where there is intensification around town centres, and it is done sympathetically to the existing environmnet, then most people seem to accept reasonable levels of density. A good example is the Woden Town Centre, where most people who responded to the various issues were happy with what was being proposed.

Unfortunately, ACTPLA played really dirty by not disclosing at the time that the ugly hi-rise was being considered by them, and eventually built.

The second issue is intensification within suburbs, which the govt is trying to control through the A10 policies. Where blocks are of certain size and within a certain distance of the local shopping centre, then some development is allowed.

The problem with many of these is that the blocks were never designed for these developments, and inappropriate solar orientation and other design elements result. Ugly block buildings within areas of traditional housing style is one example, and each incursion becomes an opportunity for developers to push the boundaries even further.

My bigest beef with ACTPLA is that they allow developers to step outside the various rules regarding setbacks, heights, etc. What happens then is that developers say that the development next door encroaches by x-amount, so my development should be allowed to encroach by even more.

The result is planning chaos and hence residents getting concerned about more and more inappropriate developments within suburbs and town centres.

If ACTPLA and developers treated existing residents with more respect, then some of these problems would disappear.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 3:02 pm 10 Jul 09

It is not a black or white either or argument, as the RAIA people are making out.
Griffith Uni’s Professor Brendan Gleeson summed it up well at one of ACTPLA’s Sustainable Futures workshops a couple of months ago:

“It’s a rather self-defeating exercise to try to asphalt your way out of congestion.”
“We’ve talked ourselves out of the idea that we can provide public transport to areas of low density, and it’s simply not true.”

I’ve been interviewed for ABC Stateline tonight on this.

A study by Energy Australia in 2005 put the sword to the myth that people living in detached housing are bigger greenhouse offenders than those in high-rise – and it directly contradicts the claims made by RAIA.

And this is backed up by ACF figures showing just 12% of average household emissions are due to construction, and 10% due to transport. Suburbia is not the bogey man that people are making out.

There are broader social and environmental aspects to this issue than just greenhouse too. People have a right to choose to have a yard for their kids to play in or to grow some food in, just as much as people have a right to choose to have no yard if that suits their lifestyle.

The RAIA is proposing a halt to all detached dwelling development. Instead they should be defending peoples’ right to choose, and calling on the ACT Government to ensure demand is met and exceeded, and greater choice is made available.

We also need to put the sword to this myth that “the market” is demanding smaller blocks. Ever shrinking blocks are all the ACT Government is making available to Canberra – either through their own development arm, or through the concept plans and development plans they are mandating on private developers.

The ACT Government kept land supply on a drip-feed for years, driving up prices to fill their coffers. There is still so much unmet demand, that people are being forced to take what they can get. If you were to ask buyers of these 300 and 400 square metre blocks if they would have preferred a bigger block with a yard, I’d guarantee most would say yes.

And that’s what Gungahlin residents are telling us in GCC. They are sick of the ever shrinking blocks we are being forced into, and they are sick of being treated like some social experiment.

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