4 August 2020

Study to examine Ainslie Avenue development options

| Ian Bushnell
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Kanandra Court on Ainslie Avenue

Kanandra Court on Ainslie Avenue in Reid occupies a prime corner site. Photos: Michelle Kroll.

The redevelopment of Ainslie Avenue is a step closer with the ACT Government commissioning a feasibility study so it can consider development options for the key city corridor.

Purdon Planning has been contracted until 31 October to assess the five public housing sites sitting on prime city real estate for their highest use and best financial return to the Territory.

This includes weighing whether apartments or townhouses would be best and identifying opportunities for mixed-use development, as well as investigating what is allowable under the current RZ4 medium-density and restricted RZ5 high-density zonings.

Purdon is to look at the scale, height and built form of proposed buildings, taking into account the surrounding streets and dwellings, as well as the appropriate density of the sites.

It will look at the natural, built and social character of the area and its relationship to Civic and surrounding developments, as well as recently approved development applications for nearby sites.

Also to be considered are the heritage values of surrounding areas and the possible registration of all or part of Jerilderie Court and Kanangra Court.

In 2015, the ACT Heritage Council rejected listing Kanangra Court as a heritage site. It is made up of 118 bachelor flats in seven three-story buildings on the key corner of Ainslie Avenue and Limestone Avenue.

Public housing framed by Geocon construction

The rear of public housing on Ainslie Avenue in Reid is framed by the Geocon construction site on Cooyong Street, where public housing has made way for a string of mixed-use developments.

According to the contract, Purdon will also examine site services, road capacity, traffic and parking impacts; pedestrian activity, especially into Civic; design quality and amenity, the spaces between buildings and use of landscaping; and impacts on privacy, solar access and views into neighbouring developments.

It will do a tree assessment and identify any registered and regulated trees, as well as any culturally sensitive areas.

Purdon’s report should show the proposed form of development including height, scale, density, site layout, place and urban amenity and the desired future character of the area.

It will provide an estimate of unit numbers and advice on the type of and mix of dwellings, which will be used to decide whether to proceed with a Territory Plan Variation for all or some of the sites.

Purdon will also work with a financial consultant to develop recommendations on a delivery model for Housing ACT.

The planning context for each site is to be reviewed, covering the Territory and National Capital plans, City and Gateway Framework, Planning Strategy 2018 and heritage controls.

The five sites for investigation include Ainslie Flats (Block 22 Section 14 Ainslie), Braddon Court (Block 1 Section 55 Braddon), Jerilderie Court (Block 1 Section 9 Reid), Kanangra Court (Block 1 Section 9 Reid) and Reid Court (Block 1 Section 10 Reid).

A government spokesperson said any decision about the future of these sites would not be made until options were explored. These investigations were being undertaken with the view of keeping at least the current levels of social housing.

A report to the Minister for Housing, Yvette Berry, and the Minister for Urban Renewal, Mick Gentleman, should be submitted by the end of the year.

”My focus in the housing portfolio is to put tenants first and I asked that future consideration of these sites not occur until the needs of tenants could be sought and understood. I will not consider any redevelopment of the precinct until the government has worked with tenants on their needs,” Ms Berry said.

”The ACT Government is committed to renewing aging public housing through its $600 million Growing and Renewing Public Housing Program. This program is providing modern, energy efficient homes to replace old public housing while continuing to provide public housing options across the ACT, including in the city centre.”

The government has previously suggested that redevelopment could involve subdividing blocks for sale and a mix of private, public and affordable housing.

The Ainslie Avenue sites will be part of the next phase of the government’s public housing renewal program, which has already resulted in the sale of sites on Cooyong Street, Northbourne Avenue and the inner south for private development and the relocation of tenants to new properties in the suburbs.

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We moved from the south coast to Canberra as the public housing wait time there was too long. Still don’t have a job but at least we have a nice house cheap

Mike of Canberra8:00 pm 07 Aug 20

I see the so-called progressives are out in force to demand that the poor and presumably welfare-dependent have full and equal access to expensive real estate on Ainslie Avenue. Why exactly? Plenty of young couples work hard, go without and save assiduously for the great reward of eventually being able to buy something in far flung areas including Molonglo. The land in Ainslie is not only expensive but presumably would reap large rates revenues for the ACT Government to lavish on the welfare-dependent and others about whom the bleeding hearts of the left profess such heartfelt concern. Mind you, it doesn’t matter where you choose to build and/or buy in Canberra, Barr will ensure it’s as expensive as humanly possible, both to buy, build on and, eventually, pay rates on. He’s really got to go.

Yes, there should be public housing in the city. Some of these people have lived in the city for years and don’t want to go anywhere else. Yes, the land may be expensive, but so is the land on Lake Tuggeranong where another public housing development is to be built. Public Housing is suppose to be evenly distributed through all suburbs (including the city) so tenants can assimilate with the rest of the community. Why should the developers get their hands on the land to put up more high rises little boxes and make a fortune. Lets hope Ms Berry can keep her focus on putting the tenants first.

ChrisinTurner4:41 pm 06 Aug 20

Will the ABC Flats demolition be the example there mostly two-bedroom air-conditioned public housing apartments are replaced by mostly one-bedroom expensive apartments, which will probably leak.

Plenty of people who work for a living can’t afford to live in the city.
Public housing should not be on prime real estate.

ChrisinTurner4:46 pm 06 Aug 20

You assume that public housing is only for people who don’t work. In Singapore 80% of the population live in public housing.

Chrisin,
Well it’s good that we don’t live in Singapore then.

Public housing should be reserved for those who are truly incapable of existing in the private rental market.

Other people who need assistance can be subsidised through rental assistance payments.

The government owning a significant amount of public housing us a massive misallocation of resources in an unproductive area.

They should own much closer to zero.

There’s no way these sites should remain public housing and it makes sense for the ACT to get the best return on these prime inner city sites which are ideal for much higher densities.

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